Sodexo Dining/ Gonzaga University
Dining Room Attendant
By: Brad Naccarato
When Darren Driggs planned to attend Gonzaga’s mock-interview event with HireAbility Spokane, he never expected to receive a job offer.
But that’s exactly what happened.
Darren, who attended with plans to improve his interviewing skills, knew that the event was not intended to fill current job openings. However, he impressed the folks at Sodexo Dining so much, that upon the completion of Darren’s summer employment, he was promptly offered a job amongst the dining room staff at Gonzaga’s John J. Hemmingson Center.
Darren, who has worked in a variety of kitchen environments, took right to the job from day one. As a Dining Room Attendant, he washes tables, re-stocks silverware, pushes in chairs and attends to any spills or messes that may create hazardous conditions for the students.
Speaking of students, Darren also took right to them.
“I see the men’s and women’s basketball players here every day and I love talking with them,” says Driggs. They treat me with kindness and respect and are always willing to help me out,” he adds.
Darren, who had been involved with the Northwest Center’s Sheltered Workshop for the last seven years, had worked in a variety of fields including manufacturing, hospitality and recreation. But this particular opportunity was one that Darren was very excited about.
“I feel like I belong here and that’s really important to me. Being surrounded by students every day; they are people that I really look up to and it feels like one large family,” he says.
Ty Corbett, an Employment Consultant for Northwest Center, has been working directly with Darren for about a year. Corbett is also very excited about the opportunity that Sodexo has given to Darren as it is a large step forward for him on his employment journey.
“We originally began working with Darren through our IGNITE program, successfully placing him at the Southside Aquatic Center in Spokane this summer,” said Corbett. “He did a great job there but it was a seasonal job. After the mock-interview event at Gonzaga, Darren became our first client to be hired individually, which is a great accomplishment for him,” he adds.
Individual employment means that Darren is treated as any other employee and is not part of a sheltered employment program. Darren is held to the same standards as any other Sodexo employee. While that carries more individual responsibility for Darren, he definitely enjoys the feeling of accountability that comes with it.
“I’m always working hard to stay focused and on task when I’m here. It’s really important that I do a good job because I need to ensure that this is a safe environment where students won’t slip and fall,” says Driggs.
Mark Van Heel, Resident Service Manager at Sodexo, has been supervising Darren since he started over two months ago. In that time Mark has been very impressed by what he has seen in Darren. “Darren has come in, learned the system and meshed with our staff quickly. His accountability is great and his attitude is always positive,” says Van Heel.
While Darren has enjoyed the social perks of his new job, perhaps the best perk of all may just be the food. “While I really love the job and I love my bosses here… l, of course get to eat all the great food that they cook here when I’m on a break or when I get off from my shift.”
Sodexo, who has always placed great emphasis on ensuring that they source, develop and retain a diverse workforce, values the difference that individuals like Darren bring to the workplace. In addition to their efforts with individuals with disabilities, they strive to ensure that veterans, women, minorities and individuals in the LGBT community are also represented within the organization.