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Jose Quintero, Desert Dispatch
BEST Opportunities job developer Michele Burnett, left, and CEO Karin Etheridge presented their first-ever Barstow Business of the Year award on Monday to Sancho's Tacos and Cantina owner Alex Perez.

Sancho's Tacos and Cantina gets award from disabled adults organization


BARSTOW • Sancho’s Tacos and Cantina was presented with the first-ever Barstow Business of the Year award from BEST Opportunities Inc. on Monday.

The local nonprofit’s CEO Karin Etheridge and job developer Michele Burnett presented the award to Alex Perez, Sancho’s Tacos and Cantina owner, for giving adults with developmental disabilities a chance to work — something Etheridge says doesn’t happen very often.

“We wanted to give Mr. Perez this award as our appreciation,” Etheridge said. “He doesn’t just interview a disabled individual, but he has hired two and still has one of our employees. This is very hard to find.”

Burnett said Perez sees a persons “ability, not a disability.”

BEST has provided employment and life skills to adults with developmental disabilities sin 1981, Etheridge said.

According to Etheridge, about half of their roughly 150 clients are enrolled in an adult development center program, which caters to individuals who are not yet ready for employment. Burnett coaches the other half and works to find them contracted or full-time employment jobs.

According to Burnett, Perez has interviewed approximately five BEST clients this year, has hired three and has since kept one employee.

“She’s an excellent employee, she is a bartender, a prep-cook, she really does everything,” Perez said of his employee hired through BEST. “The award means a lot to me, but hiring people with potential and seeing them succeed in the workplace is more important than anything else. I’m going to interview another BEST client on Tuesday for a prep cook position.”

Etheridge said it is the opportunity for their clients to interview and potentially be hired that means a lot to the nonprofit.

“In the business we’re in it’s hard to find opportunities,” Etheridge said. “All we ask is they give them a chance. Once (clients) start working ... it changes their self-esteem.”

For more information about the nonprofit organization, visit BEST Opportunities at 120 Cal Avenue or call 760-256-1030.

Jose Quintero can be reached at 760-256-4122 or

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