Allen: “I grew up in Mobile and liked to swim in the Bay. I still live in the house I grew up in. I have Usher Syndrome that gave me vision and hearing loss. I’ve worn a hearing aid since I was four years old. I have a cochlear implant and I hear a lot better. I started losing my vision in 1988. I was in my late twenties. I started using a cane in 2015. Sometimes I tell myself I wish this had never happened, or I wish I could be like everyone else, but I always have a smile on my face.
I’ve had six jobs. I worked with my dad for 11 years in his printing shop. I worked at KMart, and then Ebsco Resource for 21 years. I was once an assistant soccer coach at McGill, and I worked at Toomey’s during one Mardi Gras Season. I like to be busy and doing something. The MAP bus takes me to work and takes me back home.
I started working at Squid Ink in March. I roll the silverware, fold napkins and line up the plate trays. Since I am legally blind, I have dots that I can feel to help me line up the napkins. I can roll up to 200 a shift. No one had to train me. I figured it out on my own.
I love, I love, I love working at Squid Ink. I am in the right place. I have good friends here who are always checking on me, and they make sure I have enough supplies. They gave me a surprise birthday party and brought in my family.
I love to Google, talk to Siri, and work in my yard. I watch the news, but I get tired of hearing everything bad that is going on. I love to cook pork chops and meatloaf. I make a lot in the crockpot. I have dots around the kitchen to help me know where everything is.
Nick (owner and operating partner at Squid Ink): We had an idea for a program to hire people through Easter Seals. Allen was our first hire and our team loves him. During COVID we quarantined him because I was scared of something happening to him. He called Cheryl and me every day to check on us. We had to get him back in here. When he walks in, everyone yells his name. They are his family.
The pandemic and the fire at Ed’s have been hard for us, but Allen made us feel better. The world turned off, and when it came back it could be woe is me or move forward. Allen inspired us to move forward.
Allen is the start of a bigger program. We are expanding this into more employees from Easter Seals and getting senior citizens to work for us. We would love to put an older person at the front door. The seniors need that interaction, too.
Allen won the spirit award from the Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association. Other restaurant owners wanted to meet Allen and to hear about the program and how they can do this. His spirit will last forever.”
Allen: “I told myself no one from Mobile was going to win this. I was shocked when I heard my name. I thanked everybody. I like meeting new people and making them happy. My advice is to get out and do your job. Do the best you can. Take it one step at a time every day. “
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