Story by: Katie Hackett
Two days a week, Jon Hughes is hard at work at the Travel Centers of America truck stop in Bloomington. Eleven years ago, Jon became an employee at TA through Marcfirst's Supported Employment Program. When he first began working at the truck stop, Jon's main task was washing dishes. Over the years, however, he has been given more responsibility and now cleans and stocks many areas of the store.
At Travel Centers of America, Jon is a much esteemed employee. His work ethic is admired by both his supervisors and fellow employees. A few years ago when the company was downsizing to save money, the supervisors made sure that Jon kept his job. His bosses at TA recognized his hard work and years on the job and ensured Jon's job security. Perhaps the truck stop's value for Jon comes from his skill and dedication. "Jon knows very well where everything is and is comfortable with the environment," says Jen, the manager at the truck stop. Jon is also no stranger to taking initiative at work. When he notices that something is dirty or out of place, Jon will fix it immediately without waiting to be told to do so. One of Jon's most recognizable traits is his desire for independence. According to Jen, Jon is extremely capable of doing his tasks without much supervision, and does not enjoy being watched closely. Roger, Jon's favorite job coach from Marcfirst, can attest to this. Roger has learned to give Jon some space and only checks up on him every so often. If Jon has any questions about the job he is doing, he will ask his manager.
Jon says he is happy with any task he is given. If you ask him about one of his favorite parks of working at Travel Centers of America, Jon will tell you that he really likes the people he works with. His co-workers are eager to keep him busy and ask him for help at any time, and Jon likes the variety in his job. According to Jen, Jon interacts very well with his fellow employees instead of keeping to himself. Since he has begun work at TA, his communication with others has significantly improved. Jon says that over the years he has become a lot more comfortable around others than he used to be. Now Jon is more inclined to greet people and make conversation with them, and he loves to tell them his favorite knock-knock jokes.
With his paycheck from Travel Centers of America, Jon says he likes to treat himself. However, the rewards of his job are not just monetary based. Since working at TA, Jon has been able to develop more independence and better communication over the years. His success is a result of his hard work, ability, and a strong partnership between Marcfirst's Supported Employment Program and Travel Centers of America. All of Jon's success would not have been possible without Travel Centers of America giving Jon the opportunity to work there and the skills he has attained through Marcfirst's support.