Michael Burkey of Jamestown and the KFC/Taco Bell in Lakewood have been honored under the "Works for Me" program operated by the state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities.
Burkey, who has worked at the restaurant since April 2004, received a certificate of recognition from OPWDD in honor of his dedication, hard work and commitment to New York state's workforce. OPWDD honored KFC/Taco Bell in recognition of its commitment to workforce diversity and inclusion.
Burkey cleans the lobby and helps with some of the kitchen duties. He makes sure that tables are cleaned when customers leave, so that new customers can sit and eat at a clean table. He fills the condiments so that customers have everything they need in order to enjoy their meals. He assists with closing duties, including doing the dishes.
Pictured from left are Faith Baker, employment services administrator for The Resource Center; Keith Yocum, KFC/Taco Bell general manager; Mike Burkey; and Mike Volk, TRC director of rehabilitation and employment services.
"Mike is a hard worker and is always willing to stay after to help if needed. He can always be counted on to be flexible and do what is needed to get the job done," said Faith Baker, employment services administrator at The Resource Center. "By doing his job tasks well, he makes the customers' visit to the restaurant more enjoyable."
Burkey is friendly and enjoys talking to customers. He usually makes friends easily and fits right in with his co-workers.
"Mike's job is really a huge part of his life," Baker said. "Between making friends on the job, as well as the financial independence that the job brings, Mike's life has been changed for the better. He really enjoys being a valuable part of the team and the sense of independence that working gives him.
"I love my job and being nice to customers," said Burkey, who said he puts most of his earnings into the bank.
For years, KFC/Taco Bell has partnered with The Resource Center to hire people with disabilities. "They have always been very good to the people that work for them. They support them and give them the same chance at employment as anyone else," Baker said of the restaurant.
"KFC is one of those employers that does a really good job" in supporting people with disabilities to maintain their jobs, said Mike Volk, The Resource Center's director of rehabilitation and employment services.
"We always try to help," said Keith Yocum, the restaurant's general manager. "Everybody deserves employment and a fair shot in life."
The Resource Center supports Chautauqua County residents with disabilities and their families. Through its Supported Employment Program, The Resource Center matches disabled people with local employers who are looking to hire. TRC supports about 250 people with disabilities to have jobs in the community. The Resource Center helps workers with disabilities learn their job tasks and the agency remains available to work with employers to address any issues that arise. For more information about TRC's Supported Employment Program, call 483-2344.