Saying Goodbye to Marla

Popular worker with Down syndrome leaves Lake Grove Albertsons after 23 years
Dec 10, 2018 10:00 AM ET
Article

Originally posted on Lake Oswego Review

By Corey Buchanan

Albertsons hosted the party for Marla, a Lake Oswego resident with Down syndrome who has worked at the store for 23 years and become a beloved member of the community.

"All the customers know her," Dean said. "We're going to miss her. She's a part of the community. She went to school here in this neighborhood, worked here in this neighborhood. She's just very well known here."

Marla, 45, graduated from Lake Oswego High in 1993 and attended Portland Community College's culinary arts program. Afterward, her mother, Jane Kleinheinz, expected her to work at a restaurant cleaning tables and dishes.

"This worked a lot better, because she was with people all the time," Jane said.

In 1996, Jane visited the Lake Grove Albertsons and spoke with then-store manager John Janko, asking if he would hire an individual with Down syndrome. Janko told the Kleinheinzes to fill out an application.

One week later, Marla had a new job.

"I've always been an (advocate) for kids with special needs. I went to school with them, knew a bunch of them. They were great people," Janko said. "I wanted to give her a break."

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