The Wendy’s restaurant at 5902 Wattsburg Road, Erie, has been named the 2017 “We Are Worth It” Western Region Community Employer of the Year. The award, sponsored by PAR (Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disabilities), honors community employers who have demonstrated innovative leadership and supportive hiring practices for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism. Melissa Love, director of EHCA’s Life Sharing program, nominated Wendy’s for the award.
When LC came into EHCA’s Life Sharing program, he spoke very little and would not make eye contact with anyone. After several years, he began to settle into his new home and community. LC was asked if he wanted to have a job. He said he would, and soon he was assigned a job coach. The job coach helped him apply for a job at the Wendy’s restaurant near his home. Little did LC know that his life would soon change forever.
The Wendy’s manager who hired LC, Kate Deross, had worked with people with disabilities in the past, so she didn’t hesitate to welcome him. LC was diligent about showing up for work. His tasks consisted of wiping tables and chairs and sometimes refilling the condiment packets. Eventually LC learned so much that he no longer needed his job coach’s guidance. He continued to work side by side with the rest of the Wendy’s crew. Customers frequently complimented him by name on satisfaction surveys.
LC has been a Wendy’s employee for more than 10 years now. The new manager, Joe Brine, knows what a difference LC makes for restaurant staff and patrons. He greets customers with a warm hello and a wide smile, often holding the door open for them or helping them carry their trays. The young man who started out cleaning tables has advanced to working at the drive-thru window helping to prepare orders.
LC has received numerous awards from Wendy’s, including being named Employee of the Month twice. He proudly wears his Wendy’s hat adorned with pins representing his accomplishments and his years of service. Wendy’s has provided LC not only job experience and a paycheck but also friendship and a sense of purpose. And that’s a winning recipe!
The award was presented at the “We Are Worth It” Awards Ceremony in the state capitol rotunda on Monday, October 23, during the Annual PAR Solutions Conference in Harrisburg.