LACONIA — New Hampshire Vocational Rehabilitation recently announced the 2013 Employment Leadership Award (ELA) recipients.
Sodexo PSU, which partners with Lakes Region Community Services and Plymouth State University to offer an internship for individuals with disabilities, was named a Top 10 Employer. All Top 10 businesses were honored for making recruiting, hiring and retaining people with disabilities a top priority. The awards ceremony was held in October, commemorating National Disability Employment Awareness month. The ELA Awards program also recognized a number of nominees from throughout the state, including Café Déjà Vu in Laconia.
In the summer of 2012, LRCS Associate Director Laurie Vachon approached Sodexo PSU General Manager Chris Mongeon to establish an internship program for adults with disabilities interested in food-related businesses. Four interns – Haley, James, Ann and Jeremiah, were selected and began training that September. The 15-week ceremony concluded with a graduation ceremony. Sodexo's ongoing commitment to the interns is evident as three of the four were offered jobs. STRIDE graduates have been working between 15 and 25 hours a week. The first STRIDE program was so successful that Sodexo and LRCS are offering another 15-week internship program currently in progress.
Brenda Dupont purchased Café Déjà Vu on Court Street from her mother, Barbara, in October of 1997. Twenty-two years ago, Barbara interviewed Clyde Trask for a position and although he had little to no restaurant experience, his gentle personality and motivation convinced her to take a chance. When Dupont purchased the restaurant six years later, she was happy to keep Clyde on her team. He was initially hired as a bus boy and did not have any employment supports from LRCS at that time, so Barbara and her team trained and encouraged him themselves.
Clyde developed into an exceptional employee. He is always on time or early. He has been the head dishwasher for years. His responsibilities include training new dishwashers. He continues to flourish in other aspects of his life as well. He maintains his home, manages his affairs and has many friends. Frequent patrons ask about Clyde if they don't see him at work. Except for Brenda, Clyde is now the longest serving employee at Café Déjà Vu.