Going back to school has a slightly different meaning for Chris Ray, Wesley Ransone, Wade Koehn, and Shawn Clopton. This fab four will be returning to college, Texas A&M University to be exact. They are excited, anxious, and ready to roll but there is just one caveat … they are going back to work at Texas A&M.
For several years now, these four have been working in the food service arena at Texas A&M’s Duncan Dining Hall which is the dedicated dining hall for the ROTC Cadets. And, they can’t wait to get back to work after the summer break.
Wade and Wesley work the breakfast shift Monday through Friday starting at 6:00 a.m. where 2,600 hungry Cadets march in formation into Duncan Dining Hall. Whether it’s busing tables, cleaning dishes, or working the conveyer belt, they are hard at work moving that many people through the hall.
Then, starting at 5:00 p.m., Chris and Shawn work the dinner shift which actually ends when everything is finished and all the work is done. Both shifts are fast paced with the Cadets getting their food in line and eating all within a 20-minute window. Wade, who has worked at A&M for 13 years, can’t wait to get back to work after the summer break. “It’s hard work but I love it,” he explains. “I can’t wait to get back to work.”
Chris, Wesley, Wade, and Shawn are a part of the D&S Community Services family where opportunities such as this one are made possible through a partnership with Junction Five-O-Five. Susan South, a crew supervisor at Junction Five-O-Five, tells it best. “Through our agreement with Texas A&M, we can provide competitive employment to these four and other adults with disabilities,” she said.
“At Junction Five-O-Five, we are able to coach and train adults with disabilities in various occupations so that they can enter the workforce and earn a living,” South explained. “Chris, Wade, Wesley, and Shawn are very hard workers, love their jobs, and do a great job. I am very proud of them,” she added.
While they are off during the summer, they are not idle … not by a long shot. For the past several years, Junction Five-O-Five has joined hands with Meals on Wheels in College Station where they volunteer. From loading up the meals to delivering around 35 meals daily, they have gotten to know all of the people on the route.
Along with their jobs and volunteering, they are also very involved with Special Olympics participating in bowling and basketball. Chris also designs and makes keychains in her spare time.
One final note, they all agree that possibility the best perk of their job at Texas A&M is being a part of the Buddy Program where they are paired with a Cadet as buddies and friends.