Stories of independence, success, and impact

Symphony: Serving Up Superior Customer Service

October 2020

After 25 years working in the food-service industry, on several different university campuses, Roland Stamps with Aladdin Food Service at Savannah State University knows exactly what makes an ideal employee: someone who is always on time for work, has a positive attitude, and who pays attention to important details, like food safety and sanitation.

As the Food Service Director for Aladdin Food Service at Savannah State University, he has found an ideal employee in Symphony, one of the newest members of his team of talented food-service professionals, who together serve about 400-500 students each meal, three times every day.

Symphony started working part-time on the team this summer and has proven herself to be a valued team member. She is punctual, efficient with setting up her station, and eager to learn about each day’s menu. She makes sure that the proper temperatures are maintained throughout her shift and that all sanitation procedures are followed.

The fast-paced job is one that she enjoys.  “I really like my team!” says Symphony. “This is a fun job, and everyone is very nice. We help each other out, and we all love to help our customers!”

She’s proud of keeping her line spotless and being able to answer all of the questions that the students ask her about what she’s serving that day.

Before starting her job at the SSU campus, she was an active part of the Job Seekers group, within the Supported Employment Services program at EmployAbility, learning valuable workplace and interview skills. When the COVID-19 crisis began, the group moved their weekly meetings from in-person to online via Zoom. Despite the format change, job coaches worked with the participants to master a variety of work-related topics – things like teamwork, providing excellent customer service, phone etiquette, and they even went on virtual field trips to local employers to talk about different types of jobs.

Having the individualized coaching provided by the Job Seekers program helped Symphony to feel prepared for the application and interview process. Symphony’s job coach, Tiffany, recognized that Symphony is a people-person, so when Symphony was ready to start looking for a job, Tiffany knew she would thrive in a setting where she had regular interaction with others. They worked together to find Symphony a position where she would feel comfortable, and her personality could shine through.

“Symphony is very observant and is always willing to help her teammates. This job has given her lots of opportunities to show initiative, which she has done. It’s part of why I know she will continue to be successful here for years to come,” says Tiffany.

Symphony’s strong work ethic, punctuality, and great attitude are appreciated by her supervisor, Mr. Stamps. “Symphony is an asset to the team. And it’s a pleasure to work with the folks at EmployAbility,” he says. “When I started with Aladdin Food Service at SSU, we had three people [from EmployAbility] working here, but we’ve added three more, so we now have six people on our team [who have IDD], and they fit perfectly onto the team.” He actively seeks out neuro-diversity for his team because he recognizes the value that people with IDD bring to the workplace.

Without financial support from the community, hundreds of deserving people with IDD wouldn’t have the chance to hone their skills in the Job Seekers program and ultimately find success in workplaces throughout the three-county area.

About EmployAbility

EmployAbility is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that prepares adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) for competitive employment and community inclusion.

As a non-governmental organization, we rely heavily on support from individual donors, businesses, and foundation grants for funding. No donation is too small to help us sustain our vital programs.

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