By Melanie Mowry Etters, Special to the Democrat, Tallahassee Democrat, Oct 2, 2012
PENSACOLA — There is no shortage of enthusiasm from Don Pennington of Pensacola when he talks about his job at the Grocery Outlet on Brent Lane.
“I like to be busy all the time. I like to move around. In the Bible, it says help your neighbors and they will help you. That’s why I like to come to work. I want to help my neighbor and my neighbor is Grocery Outlet,” Pennington says.
The new grocery store opened in the spring, and Pennington was thrilled to be selected as an employee. His job duties include helping people load their groceries in their cars, retrieving carts from the parking lot and greeting customers as they enter the store.
Pennington says he has picked up some of his customer service tips by visiting other stores that have greeters and listening to what they say to customers. “If you greet people, they will come back again because it makes them feel good,” he adds.
The store manager, Kenny Broyles, says, “On a scale from 1 to 10, Don is a 10 when it comes to customer service. He is real good at customer service. I asked him to speak to people and he has taken it to the next level. My corporate office — when they come down and see him in action — they love him to death. He is good for business.”
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) is highlighting the contributions of people with disabilities to the workforce. Pennington has a developmental disability and receives job coaching from APD.
Pennington is self-sufficient and lives in his own home. He makes sure to pay all his bills on time, and maintain his automobile. Pennington drives himself to work each day, and has never been late to work or called in sick. He takes pride in his job.
“My parents always told me to do as much as you can. I don’t goof off. I am demonstrating that handicapped people can work like others without disabilities,” Pennington said. “My priorities are my job, my family, my friends, then money which is nice to have but money doesn’t always help sometimes.”
Broyles says Pennington does an outstanding job. “He is a good employee and a good person. Our store customers like the service he offers and provides.”
APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn, and work in their communities. For more about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit APDcares.org or call toll-free 1-866-273-2273.