Rachel, vocational counselor serving the hampton roads area, began working with Stacey Whitter in the Summer of 2016. Stacey completed the Project SEARCH program and was able to try out different internships throughout the hospital in which he interned for. He did a great job in all 3 of his internships, but, really enjoyed working in Food Services/Patient Foods. Rachel and Stacey quickly realized that one of Stacey's strengths was his ability to connect with people and bring joy to any work environment. Looking at his skills and interests, they really wanted to find Stacey a job where he could be himself and work alongside others who share the same values. Rachel first started working with YNot Italian in the summer of 2016 to find a client, through The Choice Group, to work for them. That is when Stacey found and landed his current position there! YNot Italian has always been a big supporter of disability awareness, especially during the month of October which is National Disability Employment Awareness month. They partner with organizations and school districts to hold fundraisers and events supporting the initiative. Stacey has successfully maintained the position at YNot Italian for over one year now and has even overcame some obstacles! One obstacle Stacey has overcome was his communication skills. Rachel and Stacey used a picture resume for Stacey's interview with YNot, so they were able to see photos of Stacey in action. They were able to see his abilities without Stacey having to verbally describe them. Stacey's speech becomes intelligible to a familiar listener and once the YNot team met Stacey, communication was no longer a barrier. Another barrier Stacey has overcome is transportation. Due to downtown congestion, it was difficult for Stacey's bus to pick him up safely. Stacey's coworkers would make sure Stacey was able to find his bus and make his way out there safely.
Stacey’s job tasks include folding the pizza boxes, preparing the salad dressings, setting the tables, cleaning the menus, and helping with any other task his manager may need him to do. Rachel checks on Stacey about once a month to ensure he is continuing to be successful on the job. Stacey receives tons of support from his managers and coworkers and are always there to help if Stacey needs anything while at work. Since beginning work at YNot Italian, Stacey has become more independent and loves going to work. He enjoys helping others and meeting new people. YNot Italian has been the perfect fit for Stacey and he is very happy.
Stacey has an uncanny ability to bring joy to any environment or setting that he enters. Stacey's attitude towards work and his general outlook on life impacts everyone he comes in contact with. “You can't help but smile when you meet Stacey” says Rachel. “In the 3 years I have been working with Stacey, one of the things that stands out most is Stacey's rhythm. He has some of the best dance moves of anyone I have seen. One of Stacey's all time favorite songs to dance to is The Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song and he really gives Will Smith a run for his money. Stacey is a childhood Leukemia survivor and spent a lot of time in and out of hospital when he was younger. Stacey's mother told us that he started dancing at a very young age, while hospitalized, the nurses would dance with Stacey to keep his mind off of his treatment. Stacey is healthy now, and instead of dancing with nurses, he continues to dance with his coworkers.”