By Stephanie Bostaph, Communications Specialist, Disability.gov
Some people have a gift for making others smile, and customers at a local grocery store in Virginia know that Pete Scampavia is one of them. His upbeat personality and contagious laugh are staples on the checkout line where he bags groceries for customers. Shoppers know they can expect some good old fashioned humor, too. For instance, Pete occasionally asks his favorite elderly customers if they are old enough to purchase alcohol, and he is a master at telling funny jokes.
Pete is proud of the fact that his job as a courtesy clerk has a wide range of responsibilities, which include helping shoppers locate items, taking groceries to their vehicles, retrieving shopping carts, cleaning up spills and completing other tasks to help the store run smoothly. “Just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you can’t get a job,” says Pete, who learned about his part-time position through a friend, applied and was hired at the age of 16. “You just have to work hard.”
Diagnosed with Costello Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects many systems in the body, Pete only alters his work routine during the winter. Since he occasionally has issues with balance, Pete has to avoid icy surfaces. Instead he focuses on working harder inside the store.
When he is not on the clock, Pete attends the Mason LIFE Program, a post-secondary program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities at George Mason University in Virginia. Although Pete is studying a variety of subjects, he eventually wants to be a school assistant and a disability advocate.
Earlier this year, Pete completed his Eagle Scout project with help from members of his Boy Scout troop and the Arc of Northern Virginia. The award-winning video, “Don’t Bully – Be a Friend,” addresses the issue of bullying and stresses the importance of building friendships. Pete’s project was recognized by the National Capital Area Council as Eagle Project of the Year and was nominated for the 2011 Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award. He also received recognition for his work through the PACER Center’s National Bullying Prevention Center and Arlington Public Schools.
Although Pete continues to work toward his academic and career goals, he doesn’t plan to leave his job anytime soon. So local customers can always count on ending their shopping trip with the enthusiastic “Have a nice day!” that has become Pete’s signature trademark.