When Kierel first started at Community Involvement Programs, he had just graduated from his transition program and was looking forward to being more active in his community and to find paid work. Although he was excited for a change, Kierel’s transition from school into our program wasn’t an easy one. Kie struggled with staying with staff and staying focused on his tasks but was determined to find work. After many different types of jobs over the span of 6 years, Kie has finally found himself working in a stable position, 5 days a week where he is happy and proud of his work.
Since 2012, Kie has worked as a dishwasher at Panera Bread and has been very successful. At first, Kie had a hard time communicating with his coworkers because he is deaf, but slowly has taught many of his team members signs, which has led to increased productivity, better teamwork and respect among the team.
Specifically over the last year, Kie has flourished in his position. Through patience and hard work with his manager, Kie has taken it upon himself to create and learn new tasks that benefit the team. In addition to washing all the lunch dishes, Kie helps out the floor staff by bussing tables, re-filling the coffee, tea, and juice carafes and wiping down tables. Through his hard work, Kie is now a role model for new staff and his fellow employees; he has truly evolved from just having a ‘job’, to having a long-standing position that is fun to go to.
Kie’s manager, Joel is now encouraging him to have a goal to learn food prep and how to make sandwiches. Kie is always eager to push his boundaries and continue educating himself and others. He loves his job, but we are excited to see what successes Kie will have in the future.
Author and Photo credits: Meg Lee, Employment Consultant and Melissa Rosewall