Spotlight: Jordan and Ryan at Wendy’s
It is a new era for supported work programs. More and more individuals are being transitioned to customized work settings away from in-center production. Jordan and Ryan are two of the pioneers in this regard, beginning work in late 2017 as independent hires with the Wendy’s South restaurant in Rochester.
Jordan Holt is originally from Oronoco, went to school in Pine Island, and moved to Rochester about two years ago. After graduation from high school, he enrolled in college but came to the realization that his career might take a slightly different path.
Seeing the happy, mild-manned Jordan of today one would never guess that he has battled, and continues to battle, bipolar disorder. Like many with the condition, he likely was affected most of his life but wasn’t diagnosed until his symptoms became more pronounced in adolescence.
When he first came to ABC he was skeptical about his ability to keep a job. After a few months he saw that not only was he able to hold down a job, he was able to thrive. When his Coordinator, Miranda Williamson, informed him of the Wendy’s opportunity in November of 2017, Jordan was quick to jump at that chance. He was hired the same day he interviewed. “I always wanted a position in the food industry,” Jordan explained. “I love the customers and the people I work with.”
Jordan lives independently and recently moved into an apartment on his own. When not working, he enjoys playing basketball and reading. He also loves working with kids and is currently considering mentoring with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program.
Ryan Anwiler is originally from Grand Rapids, Minnesota, he moved to Rochester about five years ago and started work at ABC about the same time. His primary responsibilities at Wendy’s include greeting customers and cleaning the dining area. Recently he has started branching out to other areas, including food preparation.
His job has helped bolster his self-confidence, problem-solving skills and overall independence. He now lives in his own apartment close to family. Ryan is particularly grateful for the supports provided by Jennifer Talamantes, his ABC Coordinator and Ryan’s “favorite person” in the organization. When not working, Ryan enjoys visiting with family and friends, watching TV and playing video games.
Sarah Timmerman, ABC’s Director of Program Innovation, recalls how the Wendy’s opportunity came about. “I received a call from Kevin Sullivan, General Manager at Wendy’s South. At that time, he had one position open that he felt would be a very good fit for an individual who works at ABC. He was passionate about hiring individuals with disabilities.”
Jordan interviewed with Kevin and was hired the same day. He started work in the dining room cleaning tables and the floors and greeting customers. He wanted to learn more, so it wasn’t long before Kevin provided training on fry preparation. Kevin explained, “He picked it up very quick. He has a photographic memory – anything you tell him he remembers. He is the first line for customer orders in the drive-through. He loves that position and we get lots of compliments from the customers about how likable and professional he is.”
Ryan started shortly after Jordan. “Ryan has also been awesome – he’s opening up and talking to people more and more every day. He takes so much pride in his work. One day we had a construction group come in tracking mud. I was working the register and focused on getting the orders for these guys and it turns out Ryan was behind them mopping up the whole time,” Kevin recalled.
He added, “Everybody loves Jordan and Ryan and treats them like family. They are just about the most reliable employees we have. They come every day no matter what. They’re just incredible – we love having them here.”
Sarah shares the same sentiments from an ABC perspective. “The experience so far has been phenomenal. Both Jordan and Ryan have had opportunities to expand their skills with this job, with support of Kevin and ABC staff. Kevin provides a lot of natural supports. ABC staff check-in on both of them at least a couple times a month and additional supports are provided if/when needed based on Kevin’s communications/feedback. Kevin treats both of them exactly like he would any other employee, which is exactly how it should be.”
Ryan explained his strategy for dealing with those who doubt his ability as “just do it.” Jordan’s advice is similar, “I’ve never heard the words ‘I can’t’ in any of the jobs I have done. You’ll never know what you can or can’t do without trying.”