Life and Work Connections

Olive Garden Hires Kathy

March 14, 2013

In January we profiled Kathy along with two other L&WC service recipients, who job-shadowed at the Olive Garden Restaurant on National Disability Mentoring Day.  “Our restaurants support the Day by either hosting lunch for up to 10 individuals with disabilities and DMD coordinators, teaching them about different team member roles at the restaurant, delivering complimentary meals to support a DMD activity or by hosting one to three individuals with disabilities to participate in a job-shadowing activity,” said Tara Gray with Olive Garden’s media relations.

Kathy had been preparing for and seeking employment since last year.  She is now on the Olive Garden payroll as a part-time employee, and considers her vocational goal realized.  “After this original job-shadowing experience,” says Community Skills Specialist Martha Echols, “I made arrangements with the Olive Garden manager, Brian Heiberger, for Kathy to job-shadow as a dishwasher.  She did so on several occasions.  Brian then asked if Kathy could job-shadow  on  a weekend to see if she’d be a good fit to work the busy weekend shifts.  This type of ’working interview’ was ideal for Kathy as she has strong work skills but has difficulty communicating with employers during traditional interviews.”  Kathy’s performance on the weekend was a success, and Brian hired her the next week. 

“She now works Saturday and Sunday shifts and extra shifts as needed,” says Martha.  “Olive Garden staff has been providing great support while she is learning her job, and ensuring she is learning to do her job correctly.  She also receives skills training in order to learn how to use her debit card, pay her bills, manage her checking account and paychecks!”