Building connections is an important part of employment and can be uncomfortable for many of us. How do you make a connection? What do you say? Who do you build a connection with? A good connection can open many doors, whether it be a new job, a volunteer opportunity, or the chance to learn something new.

Early on, Steamers and Jack’s employee, Luke, recognized the value of connections. Luke’s goal is to be a line cook. He has the potential: Luke is hard working, a team player, and focused.  About eight months ago, Luke independently approached Peter, the restaurant’s Prep Cook, and asked if he would teach him a few food prep tasks. That simple step of asking for guidance opened a variety of doors for Luke at work. Peter is now mentoring Luke and teaching him the skills he will need to get a line cook position in the future. These skills range from how to use the meat slicer to what to do if you are having a bad day and the hard work has paid off. Luke can complete a variety of tasks independently. Currently, Luke is responsible for cooking the chicken for chicken salad and making some of our more complex recipes. Have you tried the citrus vinaigrette? It’s likely Luke made it! Luke learned a lot of new tasks in a short amount of time, but still saw room for himself to grow.

A few months ago, Luke requested some help. He was concerned that his reading level might prevent him from community integrated employment as a line cook. Specifically, Luke said “my dyslexia is holding me back from fully succeeding at work and accomplishing my dreams.” Luke recognized that he needed to build a new connection to help him with reading. He worked with a tutor in the past and saw significant gains in his ability to read and pronounce words. Luke knew what he needed but he did not know how to find the connection. Luke approached the Steamers Program Director and asked if she would help him find a reading tutor. After searching, Luke met with a few potential tutors. He identified strengths and weaknesses to working with all of the people he met. Ultimately, Luke chose to work with a Steamers and Jack’s regular customer, a retired school teacher. Now, the two meet weekly. Luke’s tutor finds articles in the newspaper that align with his interests- mainly soccer and cars- and uses those to teach Luke word recognition and sentence structure.

Luke’s successes at work are a direct result of two things: 1) Luke’s ability to recognize his own strengths and areas for growth and 2) his willingness to ask for help and build connections. We are happy to be a part of Luke’s development and look forward to helping him tackle whatever comes next!