The first was on display as the second was recently recognized when supervisor Cindy Flesher presented him with a plaque marking his 20th anniversary with Friendship Food Mart in Wakeman.
According to Flesher, a 23-year employee at Friendship, the store’s owner was contacted by staff from the Huron County Board of Developmental Disabilities/Christie Lane (HCBDD) in March 1997 to ask if there were a job Chris might do there and a position was created for him; stocking shelves, cleaning up the parking lot, doing dishes and a list of other duties that has expanded over the years.
“The nice thing with Chris is that we don’t have to tell him what to do,” Flesher said. “He just does it. He’s busy all day long, and is very good at incorporating other jobs into his regular daily routine. Whenever I ask Chris to do anything extra, his answer is always ‘anytime.’ He’s just a great guy.”
Job follow-along is provided by Glenda Foster of CLI (Community, Life and Innovation), a non-profit business which formerly operated as a sheltered workshop under HCBDD. “I check in with Chris and Cindy at least once a month,” Foster said. “Whenever I stop at Friendship, Chris is hustling and on task, never just standing around. He takes a lot of personal responsibility for his job; he’s just an all-around good employee.”
When Chris isn’t working three days a week at Friendship, he can be found on Wednesdays and Fridays at Sirna and Sons Produce in Norwalk where he has become an important member of the crew since he started there in May 2015. His jobs include baling cardboard, emptying trash, cleaning floors and ensuring that the parking lot and grounds near the building are kept tidy.
Supervisor Jason Zendejas said, “Chris is always smiling, works hard, and does what he’s supposed to do without being told to do it. He’s always ready to help people out. When Chris is working, people around him are just in a better mood.”
The Sirna position was secured by Mike Rey, HCBDD’s community employment job developer, who echoed Flesher, Foster and Zendejas in praising Chris’s sense of responsibility and independence on the job. “No one ever has to follow Chris around at work, or stay on him to get the job done. He has a great work ethic; the kind that you don’t always see,” said Rey.
And what are Chris’s favorite things about his jobs at Friendship and Sirna?
“Helping people out and keeping busy,” he said, with that ever-present smile. “I’m a hard worker.”