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Employment program allows clients to shine

CCI’s employment program provides

jobs for clients who are ‘lovin’ it’

One Swansea McDonald’s has two notable personalities. They’re always smiling, always happy to be at work, and they work hard. And they have Down’s syndrome and autism, which doesn’t stop them one bit.

Julia Enloe and Scott Strong are clients at Community Connections Inc. and participate in the employment program. In Massachusetts, only one third of eligible adults with an intellectual disability are employed. Community Connections operates on the belief that everyone who wants to be employed is employable in jobs in the community with competitive wages. They currently have more than 160 clients employed in jobs in the community.

Julia, 22, who is diagnosed with autism, has worked at the McDonald’s on Grand Army of the Republic Highway for nearly a year. She got help starting the job from Community Connections employment specialist Kylie Munoz.

As the employment specialist, Kylie works with clients to assess their strengths and weaknesses. After she found a good fit for Julia, she talked to the manager at the McDonald’s to help Julia get hired. She does one-on-one job coaching and visits Julia at work to make sure things are going smoothly.

When Julia first started at McDonald’s, she was shy and unsure socially, Munoz said, but she has “really come out of her shell.”

Munoz said Enloe has gained maturity and confidence, and formed friendships with her coworkers. She works 20 hours a week and loves every minute.

The McDonald’s recently hired another employee from Community Connections. Scott, 23, has Down’s syndrome and cleans at the restaurant three days a week. He was trained by Julia to do his job, and she helps him if he has any questions. Kylie said the two have proven how capable they are at being employed in the community with their strong work ethic and can-do attitude.

“They’re willing to do anything you ask of them, why wouldn’t you want that?” she said.

Stephanie Crosson, the manager of the McDonald’s, said the job coaching provided by Community Connections made interviewing, hiring and training Julia and Scott an easy process.

“They’re both reliable and very personable with customers,” she said.

It’s important to Kylie that she finds a good fit for her clients and for businesses, she said.

“I’ve worked with a lot of employers and this is by far the best one,” she said. She said the Crosson and employees at McDonald’s have been welcoming to Julia and Scott and that they look out for them.

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