Photo shows shift lead Jesse wearing a blue shirt, black apron and black hat. He is standing and smiling for the camera

In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), we are highlighting some of the individuals we support who are pursuing careers of their choosing. We are also recognizing our partner employers, who are dedicated to promoting access and diversity in their hiring practices.

The quality of the manager can make or break a work environment, so thankfully, students from The College Experience (CEP) interning at the Honest Weight Food Co-op’s café in the Empire State Plaza (ESP) food court have ESP Shift Lead Jesse Frayne.

Jesse is applauded for being exceptionally welcoming to interns interested in learning about food service careers. Job coaches say the eatery is one of their favorite sites to visit due to his calm demeanor, communicative approach, and, of course, all of the delicious food being prepared!

“I like the experience of being a teacher,” Jesse says, “It helps me hone my communication skills and helps my managerial skills.” He says he has learned how to read the students’ body language, so he can make himself available to address any questions or concerns they might have. He is also prepared to be patient, knowing it can take several tries for an intern to learn how to perform a task effectively and about a month for them to have all of their daily tasks down pat.

Photo shows Donald, wearing a blue shirt and hat concentrating on portioning sauce into to-go containers.

Jesse hopes that all the hard work in the kitchen helps the interns both at the workplace and in their homes, when they are preparing nutritious meals for themselves. “Safety is our top priority,” Jesse explains, “First, you must be safe with cutting, and then you can get more efficient. It’s important that they learn how to use a knife safely. It’s also important to me that they learn about healthy food. That’s part of the mission of the co-op.”

The café has hosted four interns, so far, starting in the fall semester of 2022. Chris, the site’s fourth intern, just started learning the ropes this fall.

Photo shows newest co-op intern Jesse at work prepping lettuce. He is wearing a hat, and gloves.

Donald was the first intern ever stationed at the café. He says he learned how to prep all kinds of ingredients for the to-go salads, sandwiches, juices, and smoothies for sale and got some new exposure to vegetarian and vegan options. “I liked interning there because it was nice,” Donald explains, “Jesse is a nice guy. I got to ask him questions many times. He helped me cut onions, which made my eyes water!”

Jesse is thankful to CEP for teaching students a framework of professionalism, including the importance of showing up on time and communicating their needs. He says all of the interns he has trained have been very good listeners who show up dependably when they are scheduled. “I hope to continue into the future,” Jesse says, “Each intern is a new start and I wish the students prolonged success.”

Living Resources’ College Experience Program and Employment Services Program work in collaboration to support individuals with disabilities as they prepare to achieve their personal career and life goals with dignity and understanding. The College Experience is a non-credit certificate program in partnership with The College of Saint Rose. Employment Services begin while the students are still attending classes and can continue long past graduation. To learn more about The College Experience, visit: https://thecollegeexperience.org/. To learn more about Employment Services, visit: https://livingresource.wpengine.com/services/employment-services/