Not everyone can say they have their dream job, but Mitch Robichaud certainly can. As a Work Opportunities Unlimited (WOU) supported employment client, Mitch has received job site support since 2016 at Imperial Gas & Country Store “in the little town of Mendon, MA.” He is responsible for stocking Imperial’s beverage cooler, which isn’t just your average beverage cooler inside your average convenience store. Imperial is well known for its low gas prices, old-fashioned candy display, and aisles filled with something for everyone, so you can image that it’s a big job to keep their large beverage cooler filled with a wide variety of big-name sodas and waters, as well as artisanal beverages that can only be found at a unique store like Imperial.
This job was made for Mitch, both literally and figuratively. Work Opportunities collaborated with the store’s general manager, Dylan Ritchotte, to carve out a position that developed Mitch’s skills and spoke to his interests. With either WOU Director Mike Amons or Team Leader Eric Hokeness by his side, Mitch receives the shipments when the distributors arrive, stocks the back room, and refills the cooler shelves. He makes sure the cooler is clean and stocked, and that all beverages are facing forward.
“This is Mitch’s dream,” said Mike Amons. “He loves the drinks, the colors of the bottles, the labels, and being responsible for the cooler. He has certainly grown and learned a lot along the way and is very passionate about his job.”
While Mitch has seen great success in his career at Imperial, what makes his story even more special is that during the stay-at-home mandates surrounding COVID-19, when all support services shut down completely, Mitch did not stop working. Mike explains, “So many day programs closed, which meant a lot of people like Mitch who thrive in maintaining a routine weren’t—and still aren’t—getting any service at all. Work Opportunities, though, has been out there every day, continuing to provide services and support to the people we work with to keep normalcy in their lives.”
In fact, there were times when it was only the store manager, a few other employees, and Mitch who were working together to make sure the store stayed open and well-stocked for its customers. Mitch even took on the additional task of sanitizing the gas pumps and interior of the store. Mike commented, “After practicing for a couple of weeks and making some modifications, Mitch now goes in on Mondays on his own to complete these tasks. He wears his gloves and masks and takes his job incredibly seriously.”
While he’s found meaningful employment and discovered his passion, Mitch wouldn’t be as successful without the reciprocal relationships between Work Opportunities Unlimited, its clients, and employers like Imperial Gas & Country Store. “Dylan at Imperial recognizes the great service Mitch provides to the store and has been extremely flexible in accommodating shift changes and extenuating circumstances during this time,” commented Mike. “Not only that, when WOU was struggling to find PPE equipment to keep its clients and staff safe, Dylan stepped in to quickly order the masks, gloves, and sanitizer needed to keep our programs going.”
Congratulations, Mitch, on your continued successful journey with Imperial Gas and Country Store, and thank you, Imperial, for supporting great employees like Mitch with meaningful careers!