McAlister’s Deli is one of the Center’s best partners in helping people with disabilities receive vocational training and long-term jobs. Since 2015, 11 consumers of the Center have worked or are now working at one of nine area locations.

Darcell Fleeman with McAlister’s trainees

It all started when our Site Coordinator, Darcell Fleeman, placed a consumer for vocational training at the St. Charles McAlister’s. The manager appreciated the trainee’s hard work and reliability so much that he hired him and requested another trainee. McAlister’s corporate owner, Southern Rock, heard about our vocational training program, gave it the okay and, with Darcell’s help, spread the word to other St. Louis area managers. Soon, the Center was placing trainees at McAlister’s throughout St. Louis and St. Charles counties.

“Our trainees are thrilled to have the chance to prove themselves in a job. The restaurant industry has high employee turnover and managers appreciate when our trainees show up, work hard and aim to do a good job,” Darcell explains. “I also feel the other employees benefit from working with our trainees, too. They learn patience and they realize that people with different abilities can be productive members of society.”

The Center’s trainees work in a variety of positions, depending on their skills and interests, such as bussers, dishwashers, food preppers, and guest greeters. Some trainees have been hired by McAlister’s while others go onto competitive employment at other restaurants.

McAlister’s also participates in our summer programs helping high school students with special needs get the experience of a first job. During the summer of 2019, 17 area students participated in summer training programs at area McAlister’s. At the end of the program, four of the students were offered part-time employment.

The Center values and greatly appreciates our partnership with McAlister’s.