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AWARE Ink Newsletter

Meaningful work builds positive self-esteem and supports community partners

Updated: Dec 28, 2021

Hey everyone! Meet Steve and Derrick. They’ve been on a job-seeking journey. Recently, they found the perfect employment fit at Perkins in Billings.

Steve is a busser, and Derrick is a dishwasher.

These new jobs are a win-win situation not only for Steve and Derrick – but also Perkins.

Like many businesses, Perkins was in dire need for staff due to the pandemic. And at the same time, Steve and Derrick just happened to be on the path to finding meaningful work.

So, the manager at Perkins gave Steve and Derrick a shot.

Like every person who goes to work at Perkins, both men were given the opportunity to first do a job trial. The Perkins manager was impressed by their positive attitudes and dedication to their work.

So far, it has been a great match!

Learning from a job coach

Before landing at Perkins the two motivated men did everything they could to ensure they were equipped and ready for an opportunity.

Steven and Derrick both have previous work experience. Steven built his work skills by volunteering at the Goodwill store and cleaning a parking lot at a local restaurant. In the past, Derrick worked as a dishwasher.

AWARE Program Manager Kris Jarret worked with the two men to maximize their chance at getting the job. Kris’ background is in job coaching.

Kris supported both of them in filling out an application and by performing mock interviews. She coached them on the importance of being reliable and productive while on the job.

Her job coaching sessions also walked each man through scenarios such as greeting customers, properly cleaning tables and dishes as well as other duties related to restaurant work.

Steven was the first to be hired at Perkins back in April and is now working five days a week. Because the Perkins manager was so blown away by Steven’s positive work ethic, earlier this summer, he was promoted to lead busser. He now trains new people on the job.

Derrick was hired at Perkins one month later. Kris says that Derrick has great attention to detail, and the dishes he washes are sparkling clean. He currently works two days a week.

Working at Perkins is more than a job

The two men love earning money, which helps pay for extra stuff like eating out or having coffee with friends and shopping. However, the benefits of working in meaningful employment go beyond earning some cash.

According to Kris, working at Perkins has helped the two men build their self-esteem. She says they are excited to go to work. They’ve both made friends with coworkers and their boss (who they talk positively about all the time). And they’ve made friends with regular customers as well.

AWARE continues to work with Perkins in Billings and has provided additional job candidate recommendations. One more person is scheduled to start work at Perkins at a greeter.

Steve and Derrick’s story is inspiring to all of us at AWARE and a perfect example that the work we do to help people live independent lives is important, meaningful and working.

If you’d like to learn more about AWARE and the services we provide, go to our website at

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