Saturday, February 25, 2012

Employee celebrates twenty years with employer. Oh yeah, he rocks his extra chromosome.

Employee with Down Syndrome celebrates twenty years with employer, Burger king.  How many employees reach that milestone?

For some, working at a Burger King may be just a summer job. But for David Moon, it’s the key to his independence.
Moon, who has Down syndrome, got his job through the supported employment program at New Horizons, a program that helps people with disabilities find jobs. Moon cleans tables, picks up trash, mops and carries trays for customers. On Wednesday, he’ll celebrate 20 years of working for Burger King.
“I love my job,” he said.
    Gail Staley, Moon’s older sister, said her brother is a “people person” who is dedicated to his job.
    “He helps out, opens doors, carries trays for young mothers,” she said. “Most folks are really friendly to him.”
    Moon, 53, started work at the Burger King on Macon Road, working alongside a trainer until he’d learned the job. He moved to the restaurant on Gentian Boulevard -- which is designed to look like a train station -- after it opened in 1999.
    Lisa Spaeth, a division manager at the restaurant, has known David for about 14 years. She said he always asks for help if he needs it and has regular customers he likes to chat with.
    “David has his favorites that he likes to come and talk to,” she said. “If he’s not here, they always want to know where David’s at.”
    Moon likes to have fun -- he always wants to have a party at Christmas, Spaeth said, and likes to tease her sometimes. “He tries to marry me off to every man he sees,” said Spaeth, who is already married. “I’ll be sitting with a co-worker and he’ll say, ‘You need to marry her.’”
    He has a good memory for some things, like birthdays. He reminds Spaeth of her best friend’s birthday every year. And he’s never forgotten the celebration the restaurant had for his 10th anniversary. He got a gold watch and a hand shake from Marvin Schuster, who operates more than 60 Burger King restaurants through Schuster Enterprises.
    “He’s talked about that ever since,” Spaeth said. “It doesn’t take much to make him happy. I’ve learned a lot from him.”
    When he’s not at work, Moon likes to paint and go bowling. He saves his money and during his two weeks of vacation every year, goes on a trip to Tennessee, Florida or to visit his brother in Spokane, Wash.
    Staley said the supported employment program has helped her brother and other people with disabilities.
    “It gives them independence,” she said. “It’s something that makes life important to them.”
    As for Moon, he’s not ready to retire yet.
    “Maybe after 25 years,” he said.

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    Be gentle.

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