People who work at Burlington in Leominster, Massachusetts are lucky they get to work with Richie. “He’s a person that everybody wants to meet,” says Lynsay Radzewicz, Director for Work Opportunities Unlimited (WOU)’s North Central region. “His supervisors always have great things to say about him. He’s always willing to lend a hand. He never says no. He is a reliable member of the team.”

Richie has been supported on the job at Burlington since September 2016 by Lynsay and his Career Resource Specialist (CRS), Tristan Schluter. WOU’s goal is to break down barriers to employment for people with disabilities, prepare people for the workplace, and work closely with their clients to help them succeed.

To accomplish this, WOU tailors the level of support they provide to meet each client’s needs. Richie is very independent, mostly relying on his team for communication assistance when he needs help finding the right words to express himself, or when he’s feeling worried about his job performance. Lynsay and Tristan know him so well, they can bridge any communication gaps between Richie and his supervisors to boost his confidence, and with their help, Richie has really blossomed at Burlington. As Tristan notes, “Richie is extremely reliable. He goes out of his way to pick up extra hours during busy weeks and the holidays. Burlington knows they can rely on him to be on time every shift and they love his work ethic. His coworkers would describe Richie as ‘awesome.’”

Over the last two years, Richie has eagerly taken on more job responsibilities. His team periodically challenges him to master new tasks he might have been nervous to try in the past. His latest goal was to learning how to “flow” clothing items, which entails placing hung items in the right places on the sales floor. Lynsay says, “That’s something that he’d been very worried about, and never comfortable with doing, because he didn’t want to mess it up. For him to step up and request to do more, that was huge for him, and the managers were really excited!”

Richie trains fellow employees now, as well. He gives great direction and sets his coworkers at ease. “Richie is always ready and able to welcome new team members and help them get comfortable,” says Lynsay, and his managers “see him as a leader. He’s very easily approachable and can understand and explain things in different ways.”

This natural leadership makes Richie a real asset for WOU’s on-site assessments at Burlington. Assessments are a great tool for matching clients with a meaningful career because it lets the client, the employer, and WOU see firsthand if the job is a good fit. Burlington is a go-to partner for assessments because many WOU clients enjoy working in a retail environment, and the store knows it can rely on Richie to step up and help guide others in trying new tasks.

Richie is a great employee and coworker for many reasons. He takes great pride in his work and doing things correctly. He has a great sense of humor, says Lynsay: “He’s always joking. He keeps you on your toes!” He has made strong friendships with coworkers, as well; he and his closest friend like to do fun things together when they’re off the clock, like driving around town or attending Patriots games. Lynsay shares, “Everyone enjoys working with him, because even when he’s having a hard time, he can find light in it…He’s literally just an amazing guy.”

Richie has grown so much in his career, and he continues to make the store he works at a better place. WOU is so proud of you, Richie!