Chris Washington and Mary Turk are pictured at Aitkin’s Holiday Station store.

The Aitkin County Developmental Achievement Center (DAC) has been around for quite a while and has been able to place a lot of its clients in jobs around the county. Here’s a look at one of those successful people.

Chris Washington really loves people and that might be an understatement. The young man who learned about a job at the local Holiday store from the DAC, talked with me recently and I learned some things about him that I didn’t know about him even after working with him at the store.

Chris started out as a part-timer and has worked his way up to nearly full-time status, something his supervisor Mary Turk never saw coming when he started working for her, “Early on I didn’t know if he really wanted to work or not. At his 90-day review I told him he had to decide if he wanted to continue or not. What he told me is that he wanted to get better and I told him he needed to take ownership and within three weeks he was closing the deli by himself. He just needed someone to invest in him. When he realized that when I told him something it was not a reprimand, but rather it was me trying to make him better., he took off and ran with it.”

Chris started his job with a little training and Mary supplied that as well and Chris learned in a hurry that the customers are number one in the retail world. I asked him his favorite part of the job and he quickly said, “I love waiting on and working with the customers. I make sure I greet every customer and try to make sure they are happy with the product, the hardest part sometimes is keeping up when it’s busy but Mary taught me to take my time and get things right.” Mary went on to say, “He needed encouragement and once he got that on a regular basis he started to take pride in what he was doing. He has been very good with new employees and helps train them now. He can be a leader and he doesn’t want to stop learning. I’ve been in this business for over 25 years and I’m still learning. Chris is a perfect example of what can be.”

Chris curently lives in a group home, but he has goals, “I want to live on my own and I’m happy at Holiday right now but eventually I might like to do something else. My family has been very supportive of me and the DAC has been very influential in my life. My advice to others is to work hard and keep a positive mind and you can get through anything.”

I have no doubt that Chris can accomplish great things in his life. He likes to have fun but knows when it is time to work and has done a great job. He is a shining example of setting goals and I’m sure he will reach them in the not too distant future. Keep up the good work young man, we are all very proud of you!

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