Proud to Welcome You - Preston's Employment Journey
Getting a job when you’re a teenager isn’t the same as it used to be. We all remember that helpful next door neighbor, well connected family friend or local business owner down the street who used to be a reliable source for that all-important first job (and even more important, first paycheck). Unfortunately, these helpful adults are now almost as likely to be looking for employment as a teenager in high school. US teen unemployment rates spiked to an all time high in July 2010*.
With employment data like that, you’ll understand why we’re thrilled that Preston is such a busy guy. The moment you walk into the Pine Lake QFC, he greets you at the entrance, hands you a coupon and wishes you well as you prepare for the day’s fruitful shopping experience. He is the type of greeter QFC would duplicate if they could. He is unafraid, attentive, warm, and most important of all, completely sincere. When Preston welcomes you into the store, you really feel welcomed. His devotion to the job, positive attitude and punctuality are traits that employers cannot buy (just ask any business owner).
Preston loves his job at QFC, which he obtained while participating in the Northwest Center School 2 Work Program during his last year of transition from High School. Preston was born with Down syndrome, but has never let that challenge disrupt his pursuit of personal aspirations. His Northwest Center Employment Consultant, Erica Gritter says, “Preston is an absolute pleasure to work with. He has an inner joy that is contagious! It doesn't matter the task, he always approaches it with a smile. He has a positive attitude and is willing to work hard and always try his best. I am so happy to have had the opportunity to work with Preston this year. I love watching him at work and seeing how much he brings to his job and how valued he is.”
Preston and his family are long time customers of their local QFC, so he grew up shopping (and socializing) there. As a child, Preston would get a kick out of greeting and conversing with customers as they came into the store; it would be fair to say that he has been a natural ‘people person’ since the beginning. Preston’s dad observes, “As I see Preston shake hands as a greeter, I see a young man doing something he would rather do more than almost anything else, making friends and sharing his God given love.” Preston isn’t the only one who is happy at the Pine Lake QFC: we asked his co-worker, Shannon what he thought, “Preston is awesome and a great asset to QFC. He gives great customer service and gets along with his coworkers well. He brings positives things to QFC and is doing a great job.”
He also works the doors for the Issaquah Rotary Club during the week and on Sunday he greets members of his church with fellow congregant, Mike Quinn. Quinn says, “Preston never seems to have a bad day. Some times when people are coming to church early in the morning they haven’t completely woken up or they may be troubled in some way, but without fail Preston lights them up with his enthusiastic, ‘Good Morning’ and always brings a smile to their faces. He gets there before me and is ready to work. Even on his ‘non-scheduled’ days he has, on his own, stepped up to man the door if he didn’t see anyone there. The real special part is watching him and his parents interact – there is no noticeable stress – just love.”
Oh, and it’s not all about work - an athletic and outgoing guy like Preston has many social engagements to attend to! There are basketball hoops to shoot, strikes & spares to be picked up in his bowling league, year-round lap swimming at the pool, volunteer activities and most of all, hanging out with his friends. It’s hard to believe he has time for two jobs!
When people of all abilities work, learn and grow together, the results are tremendous. We all have something unique and vital to share with our co-workers, families, friends, communities and the world. Preston’s gift is to engage people, all people, with honest sincerity and trust - it is truly something to be admired. Next time you stop by the Pine Lake QFC, say hi to Preston, though if he’s working chances are he‘ll find you first.
*http://bls.gov/ The share of young people who were unemployed in July was 51.2 percent, the highest July rate on record - which began in1948.