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Safeway Stores and People with Disabilities

  • Synopsis: Published: 2012-03-05 (Revised/Updated 2016-09-24) - Safeway supermarkets have grown to become an advocate and supporter of people with disability and one we should be proud of and support - Wendy Taormina-Weiss.
Safeway

Safeway - A Fortune 100 company and is also one of the largest food and drug retailers in North America. The company has 1,761 stores in America and Canada; it supports people with disabilities, health and human service, education, and other programs to include both breast cancer and prostate cancer research programs.

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Quote: "People with disabilities, seniors, or anyone else for that matter, can all shop online at Safeway and have their purchases delivered in some areas."

Safeway supermarkets experienced a rough introduction to the realm of serving Citizens with Disabilities, but the chain of stores has grown to become an advocate and supporter, one we should be proud of and support.

Safeway supermarkets experienced a rough introduction to the realm of serving Citizens with Disabilities, but the chain of stores has grown to become an advocate and supporter, one we should be proud of and support.

The Safeway of 1995

July of 1995 found Safeway, which had 800 stores at the time, resolving a complaint filed with the Department of Justice alleging the supermarket chain had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Wisconsin resident who filed the complaint claimed entrances to the stores were surrounded by poles or security bollards which prevented wheelchair users from wheeling shopping carts into store parking lots. The complaint effected Safeway stores in 16 states; Safeway changed its perspectives towards People with Disabilities as a population in our favor permanently.

The Safeway of 2007

The supermarket quickly learned something a number of employers in America have discovered - People with Disabilities make exceptional employees. In fact, by April of 2007, Safeway was honored for its record of supporting employment of people with disabilities at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. that was hosted by the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR). In attendance were members of America's leadership to include Senator Robert Dole, Senator Christopher Dodd, Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, and Congressman John Tierney. Directors of vocational rehabilitation agencies from across America were also present at this ceremony.

Safeway Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Burd stated at the ceremony, "We appreciate the recognition and are proud of our longstanding partnership with the vocational rehabilitation agencies, which continue to be a valuable hiring resource. These are among our most productive employees, and we intend to build on this important program as a way of raising awareness and supporting people with disabilities."

As a corporation, Safeway now employs almost 10,000 people with disabilities in stores and the facilities to support them throughout America and Canada. Safeway hires people with a number of sensory, physical, and developmental disabilities through the CSAVR network of agencies in America. The company has also become a long-time supporter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Easter Seals, raising $100 million dollars for these two organizations over the last 20 years.

CSAVR President Butch McMillan, in relation to Safeway's employment of people with disabilities said, "We commend Safeway for its proactive efforts to provide real and lasting employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The company has an extraordinary record of creating job opportunities for people with various physical and developmental disabilities."

The same month of April in 2007 found Safeway launching a month-long campaign to raise funding for programs that were community-based with the goal of assisting people who experience physical and developmental disabilities. The company planned to raise $5 million for Easter Seals, an organization that is dedicated to helping people with developmental disabilities, autism, physical disabilities, and other special needs.

The Safeway of 2008

Safeway's fundraising efforts did not simply stop. May of 2008 found the company continuing to be one of the top corporations in North America supporting programs and services for people with disabilities. The company gave $9 million in donations to Special Olympics and Easter Seals to fund a wide-range of activities such as:

  • Job training
  • Physical development
  • Programs to support autism
  • Funding community disability centers

Easter Seals President and CEO James E. Williams, Jr. stated, "We continue to be inspired by Safeway's remarkable fundraising skills and their commitment to people with disabilities. This kind of extraordinary level of support will continue to enhance our ability to support a wide range of services to assist children and adults with disabilities."

Safeway has dedicated the month of April to rallying both employees and its customers to support a number of organizations for people with disabilities. Among these organizations are Special Olympics, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and Augie's Quest. Over time Safeway, its employees and customers have raised in excess of $100 million dollars for these organizations.

The Safeway of 2011

April of 2011 found Safeway working with Rebuilding Together, America's leading nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of affordable home ownership. Rebuilding Together rehabilitates homes and community centers, and during the month of April, 2011 Safeway and Rebuilding Together pursued this goal in ten cities as a part of Safeway's annual Disabilities Campaign. The Disabilities Campaign is an awareness campaign that supports organizations that provide services and outreach to people with disabilities.

As experts in home modifications for people with disabilities, Rebuilding Together's modifications commonly include things such as grab bars, new hand rails, wheelchair ramps, and widened doorways for wheelchair access.

The year 2011 was the second year that Safeway and Rebuilding Together partnered to make homes and community centers accessible for people with disabilities. Affiliates of Rebuilding Together receive funding from The Safeway Foundation for the projects it pursues. Employees of Safeway volunteer hundreds of hours of their time to complete work on projects. In 2011, projects were completed in the following cities:

  • Dallas, TX
  • Chicago, IL
  • Denver, CO
  • Seattle, WA
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Portland, OR
  • Berkeley, CA
  • San Diego, CA
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Silver Spring, MD

Larree Renda is the Executive Vice President of Safeway, as well as the Chair of The Safeway Foundation. Larree had nothing but praise for Rebuilding Together's commitment to helping people with disabilities to live more independent lives. She said, "We applaud Rebuilding Together's mission of giving people with disabilities full access and mobility inside and outside of their homes. The organization is a perfect fit for Safeway and The Safeway Foundation because one of our core areas of our key pillars of giving is supporting people with disabilities."

A Wonderful Change in Perspectives

The change in Safeway's perspectives towards people with disabilities since the year 1995 is nothing short of spectacular. The company has become a true advocate for us, and its efforts are greatly appreciated. But what about access to the stores themselves

Out front of the local Safeway store in my neighborhood, which is truly a neighborhood, middle-sized store, there are 8 disability parking places. There are 4 doors into the store, and in front of those doors is a flat entrance with raised ADA, 'bumps,' designed to assist people who are blind or hearing impaired. Inside the door to the right, just next to the shopping carts, are some electric scooters with shopping baskets that people with physical disabilities can use.

The restroom in my local Safeway store is fully ADA accessible; plain and simple. Need something off of the top shelf? The people who work at this store are absolutely wonderful; they won't hesitate for a moment to grab it for you. Many of the people who work at this store are people with disabilities, and Paul is a senior who will always ask you if you need help out with your purchases. The people who work at this Safeway know me and always call me by name. They always ask me if they can help me find something, or if I need assistance with anything.

People with disabilities, seniors, or anyone else for that matter, can all shop online at Safeway and have their purchases delivered in some areas. Hopefully, Safeway will expand their online shopping and delivery services with the understanding that some people with disabilities or seniors find themselves unable to physically go to one of their stores. In my opinion, Safeway went from a corporation that was unaware of disability issues to a corporation that has embraced America's largest minority population with open arms.

Related Information:

  1. Safeway's Housing Support for People with Disabilities - Rebuilding Together has partnered with Safeway to make homes and community centers more accessible.
  2. Safeway's People with Disabilities Campaign - Easter Seals critical autism early intervention, inclusive child care and employment services.
  3. Safeway, Easter Seals and Special Olympics Launch Fundraising Campaign for Disabilities - Safeway Easter Seals and Special Olympics launch the grocery retailers annual fundraising campaign for people with disabilities.


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