I meet Kaitlyn Good at the end of her shift at Yoder’s Restaurant. Wearing her uniform which consists of a crisp white polo shirt, black pants, and black sneakers, she confidently escorts me to the back of the large dining room to a booth for her interview. Even though it is 2pm on a Tuesday, the restaurant is bustling with customers enjoying late lunches.
Kaitlyn works as a busser which includes the following tasks: cleaning tables, wiping down ketchup bottles and salt & pepper shakers, and resetting tables with placemats. She also refills the plates at the ever-popular buffet. She describes her job in detail, but states her favorite part is putting cups away for the servers and her second favorite job is doing tables.
“Time goes fast when you’re doing tables,” she says. Looking around the room, there is no shortage of tables or booths.
She found her job at Yoder’s Restaurant through someone at The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) who referred her to Lighthouse where she connected with Employment Specialist, Ebony Jones. Ebony introduced her to several jobs to help her discover the type of work that was a good fit. Once Kaitlyn found the right position, Ebony offered support by working one-on-one with her and teaching her the job tasks at Yoder’s. As Kaitlyn gained confidence, Ebony pulled back and let her work independently.
Ebony reflects on Kaitlyn’s work ethic, “(Kaitlyn) gets along with everyone—fast learner—
She has worked at Yoder’s for over a year now and is thriving at her job as a busser. She works part time there two days per week. On Mondays and Fridays, she also goes to the Ephrata Area Rehabilitation Center (EARS) and works a variety of jobs. On Thursdays, she is off. “I like having a day off,” she smiles.
When she is not working, Kaitlyn makes friendship bracelets. On her wrist she wears three colorful bracelets with distinct themes: Halloween, Christmas, and glow in the dark. She also enjoys watching Disney Plus and Netflix; her favorite shows are Bigtime Rush, Hannah Montana, and The Voice.
She is also highly involved at Gigi’s Playhouse, an organization that provides programs for persons with down-syndrome. She participates in Fantastic Friends, fitness classes, reading classes and bingo. This year she joined in with Gigi’s Playhouse parade float at several of the local fairs: Ephrata, New Holland, and Manheim.
This past June, Kaitlyn competed in tennis at the Special Olympics Nationals in Florida. She placed 4th in both the single and double matches. Scrolling through her phone, she shows me a photo of herself with two medals at the Special Olympics. “I like taking pictures,” she states. When asked what it was like winning the medals, she has a big grin on her face–“Lots of fun—inspiring.”
Over the years, she has participated in many sports at the Special Olympics including soccer, swimming, horseback riding and bowling. “I’m a bowler–like to bowl.”
While she recounts her many interests, I clumsily spill my papers on the floor. Before I can collect the papers, Kaitlyn gathers them and hands them to me. I thank her. “I like to help others,” she says.
Even during my short time with her, she demonstrates that characteristic of helping others; it seems natural. I can imagine her enthusiastic and helpful attitude uplifting her co-workers on their worst of days and delighting the regular customers.
It is then time for her to go. On her way out of the restaurant, the hostess enthusiastically waves and says, “Bye Kaitlyn!” The head hostess, Brenda Davis remarks, “I love working with her. Sweetest thing.”
~Emily Bauman, Marketing
& Communications Assistant