Larry was hired as the day porter for the Seattle offices of worldwide PR firm Edelman. It’s safe to say that things are going well.
“We need more people like him in the office,” says his supervisor, office manager Alison Maddox. Although a big company with its busy schedules and tight deadlines can make some people jaded and irritable, she says, Larry is always soft spoken, upbeat, and ready with a smile.
Larry, who worked with Northwest Center Employment Services to find his job, is now one of the first to arrive each day at Edelman’s sprawling, modern office space in the in heart of Seattle’s downtown shopping district. “The first thing I do is make coffee in the mini cafés,” he says. The company has three: kitchenettes with seating areas that include amenities like espresso machines, cereal and snacks.
“I stock the main kitchen café, empty the dishwasher, start the dishwasher if that needs to be done, and clean it all up,” he continues. “Then, after I do all that, I do the cleaning of the conference rooms, make sure the tables and walls have been wiped down. Some of the walls are glass that you can write on. If there’s something left over from yesterday, I make sure I erase those. I wipe the tables down to make sure everything’s neat.”
Before joining Edelman, Larry worked for years at a toy store chain—a job he stuck with, but didn’t love. “The work he was doing was largely janitorial and there was very little satisfaction in it,” says his father Lawrence. “Now he has a job where he interacts with people, gets respect. They ask him to do things that he’s happy to do. And it’s a great company; that’s the primary thing: the work environment, the opportunity he has for responsibility, the way people help him.”
“I like working with the people here,” Larry says of Edelman. “They’re really friendly and nice. I enjoy doing my routine. I just enjoy working here.” “It’s changed his personality. He’s very happy,” says his father. “You can’t believe what a difference it’s made.”
Maddox agrees. “It’s just amazing,” she says. “I was not surprised at how reserved he was at first, because he worked so isolated before. Before, he wasn’t around a bunch of people all the time, especially a big, loud office of people. It’s been nice to see him come out of his shell.”
Edelman interviewed a few candidates from Northwest Center, but Larry stood out right away, Maddox says. “We just instantly fell in love with Larry. Instantly! There was no question about it.”
At first, Larry’s Northwest Center job coach was available to help Larry get the hang of his schedule or answer questions from anyone on the Edelman staff. These days, Larry works independently. “He’s just so great, there really wasn’t a need,” Maddox says. Though he has a developmental disability, he was introduced to the office “just like any other employee,” Maddox says. He regularly joins his colleagues on the Operations team to celebrate birthdays and go on outings like a recent Mariners game.
Maddox works with Larry as she would any employee, she says. She got a sense of how he liked to work and adapted her management approach to his style. For example, because she sensed that formal meetings made Larry nervous, she now relies on informal chats and leaving memos at his desk.
Larry has this advice to anyone looking for a job to love: “I would say, just keep a positive attitude.”
It’s clear he has that part down pat.
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This story was originally published as part of Northwest Center's 50th anniversary project: 50 Stories Worth Sharing
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