Mike, on the job!

For 30 years, Mike dedicated himself to making pizzas and strombolis at Your Place Restaurant in Mechanicsburg, PA. Unfortunately, the business didn’t survive the COVID19 pandemic. Mike was out of work for about two years before he was referred to Work Opportunities Unlimited in August of 2022. Career Resource Specialist Brandy Ross began preparing Mike for his first new job in decades. She says, “Mike was super excited to start working again in the food industry and was willing to learn new things to help him be successful.”

Mike struggles with short-term memory issues as a result of a traumatic brain injury from an accident in 2014. Therefore, it was crucial that Brandy help Mike find a new employer that was understanding and willing to work with him. His biggest barrier was transportation since he cannot drive. His brother Rick and sister-in-law Kris helped him navigate his life since his accident, assisting with his finances and giving him rides to appointments and the grocery store. Mike treasured their support but didn’t want to continue relying too heavily on Rick and Kris, and he was eager to gain more independence. Brandy researched options and located a door-to-door transportation service for Mike. With training and practice, Mike mastered using the service, and Brandy helped familiarize Kris as well so she could assist Mike if needed.

Next, Brandy and Mike worked on crafting a resume and sharpening his interviewing skills. Brandy shares, “Mike loves to talk to people, so we worked on remaining professional and not oversharing. We had several mock interviews and he did better each time!” Mike’s first interview was at a local grocery store that had an opening in their deli department, but the transportation company only operates during certain hours and the store wasn’t willing to work with Mike’s availability. Then he interviewed at a small pizza shop, but they were looking for a cashier and Mike isn’t comfortable with technology. Lastly, Mike interviewed at the Café & Bistro for a dishwasher position. The small, quiet restaurant seemed like the perfect fit for Mike. With Brandy’s support, Mike aced the interview and was hired in early December of 2022!

Mike and CRS Brandy Ross

Mike found the manager and staff at The Café & Bistro extremely welcoming and helpful. The small kitchen setting immediately felt familiar, and since Mike did a little bit of everything at his previous job, including washing dishes, he was comfortable with his responsibilities. Brandy says, “It was cool to see all of these memories of things that he knew how to do kick in. He remembered how to operate the dishwasher, check the temperature – he remembered more than he thought he could.” Mike had hoped to start off preparing food like he did at the pizza restaurant for so many years, but he was happy to get his foot in the door at The Café & Bistro and plans to work his way up to food prep. Brandy is certain he’ll reach this goal, as she has watched Mike build his confidence and trust himself to retain new skills and succeed.

Mike has proven himself a hardworking addition to the team at The Café & Bistro. Brandy says Mike is known to say “‘if the manager is happy, everyone is happy.’ He wants to make his coworkers happy, too, and do what he can to help them.” His new job also fulfills Mike’s desire to connect with his community. He and his coworkers enjoy chatting about sports and other shared interests. The café is located in an expansive retirement community, and Mike’s friendly, loquacious nature is an asset with the residents. He’s on a first-name basis with many, some of whom even know Rick and Kris, and Mike likes to catch up with everyone in the dining area while he collects dishes to wash. Brandy says, “The café wants their employees to interact with the residents, so they really like that about Mike.”

The extra money earned at his new job has allowed Mike to make overdue updates to his home and enjoy more financial flexibility. He is thrilled with the independence the transportation service offers, since he can get to work as well as run errands as he pleases. In addition, Brandy says, “He enjoys being able to afford gifts for others, and to take Rick and Kris out to dinner as a token of gratitude for all they have done for him over the years.” Mike loves working at The Cafe & Bistro and plans to stay there until retirement.  Congratulations, Mike!