It is safe to say that Paul Flores is happy to be earning his own paycheck. But that isn’t all there is to his new job at Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers in Great Bend.
Flores participates in the local Vocational-Rehabilitation (VR) program and selected Sunflower Diversified Services as his provider for community-employment services. Sunflower serves people with intellectual disabilities and delays in central Kansas.
“The paycheck helps me buy things,” Flores said. “But I like making new friends and getting out of the house too.”
Flores works about 10 hours a week at the fast-casual dining restaurant. His duties include busing tables, and stocking cups, lids, condiments and napkins.
The 22-year-old Great Bend resident recently found this community employment with the support of Sunflower and VR.
Cody Harris, Sunflower’s employment specialist, said “we performed a work assessment for Paul at the Salvation Army. The VR counselor reviewed that assessment and determined Paul was ready to work.
“So, the hunt was on for a regular job,” Harris continued. “When I work with a prospective employee, I want to find the right fit. Then we build a relationship with employers to see what is available.
“We want it to be something the person enjoys. It has worked well with Paul; he loves his job at Freddy’s.”
Harris recalled that Flores was excited to interview for the job and did internet research to determine what to expect.
“Paul also walked from his house to Freddy’s to make sure it was within walking distance,” Harris commented. “He found out it took only 12 minutes.
“Paul is a little quiet and shy but he is steadily making progress. He wanted this job and he put in the effort to make it happen.”
Sunflower appreciates local businesses and agencies that offer community employment and encourages others to get involved.
“A job helps anyone become a contributing member of society and builds self-confidence,” Harris noted. “And it is personally and professionally rewarding for the employer.”
Ken Harder, Freddy’s general manager, said he believes “our workforce should mirror our community. Everybody deserves the opportunity to find gainful employment if they are willing to do the work.
“Paul is a really welcome addition to our team. He is always here on time and focused on his responsibilities.”
Sunflower, a non-profit agency, serves infants, toddlers and adults in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties. It is in its 53rd year.