October 10, 2018
National Disability Employment Awareness Month #NDEAM
This week, the Employment First Committee at Merakey is sharing individuals’ personal stories, along with stories from other people with disabilities who have and continue to make valuable contributions to the world.
Chris has been working at Pardee’s Route 240 Restaurant in Cherry Tree Pennsylvania for the past eight years. Chris is a valued member of the team at Pardee’s and he has a range of job responsibilities. In the winter months, Chris ensures the patrons remain safe by shoveling snow and putting salt at the entrance of the building.
Chris truly loves his job stating, “Everybody there is nice to me and I really like my boss and her husband”. Over the years, Chris has maintained a great rapport with the patrons of the restaurant, especially the morning coffee drinkers. On the days Chris isn’t working, he enjoys sitting with the coffee drinkers and conversing about hunting and fishing.
When asked about his dream job Chris responded, “I want to open my own business working on small engines”. With the help of his support team, Chris is in the initial stages of starting up his own business with great vision for his future. He hopes to have his own small business up and running by April 2019.
The Golden Arches of McDonald’s are a common sight in most towns and cities. McDonald’s offers the convenience of fast food to those with busy lifestyles, and in Slippery Rock, a place to hang out between classes. Many people would not find the McDonald’s in Slippery Rock much different from any other McDonald’s. There is the same aroma of frying meat; the same sound of French fries sizzling and bubbling in hot grease; the same long lines of customers waiting to fill their bellies. However, to James, the McDonald’s in Slippery Rock is special. This McDonald’s offers James freedom, possibility, and purpose.
James has worked at the McDonald’s in Slippery Rock for almost three years. He started by working two days a week as a dishwasher, but through his initiative and hard work, he earned a promotion to Maintenance Manager, which included a raise. In addition to washing dishes, James now helps unload the delivery trucks, mops the floors, cleans tables, and delivers food to cars when the drive-thru is busy.
Brian Dickens, James’s supervisor said, “James has good attention to detail”. James may be busy with his job duties, but he will take the time to exchange a quick greeting with familiar customers or friends before he returns to his tasks.
James saves the money he earns, so he can go on vacation to places like Disney World and Universal Studios. Capitalizing on his skill for detail and using his earnings from work for supplies, James draws intricate worlds and creatures. Some pieces of his artwork have been displayed and auctioned off for charity. He gives other pieces to his friends. “I like getting a paycheck, so I can get things that I want,“ James explained. “I can keep making my art and go to really cool places.”
Currently, James works from 9 AM- 2 PM, four days a week. He is satisfied with the job he does and the freedom employment brings.
“We have to hustle,” James said, “But that’s ok, because I like to be busy.” According to James, “Everyone is super friendly here, kind of like family."