LYNNFIELD — With October being National Disability Employment Awareness Month, there are no shortage of success stories to consider. It’s hard to imagine, however, a more successful situation than the one involving Amaury Mejia and the Yard House restaurant in Lynnfield.
Mejia, who is in Northeast Arc’s Supported Employment program, has been working at Yard House since it opened in September 2013. He works in the kitchen one or two days a week, rolling silverware into napkins, and is always available to help executive chef Wilson Figueroa, who is thrilled to have Mejia on his team.
“Amaury is a great person,” Figueroa said. “He is always excited to be here.”
Figueroa said Mejia takes great pride in his work, which he called “very consistent.”
“He comes in and says, ‘I’m going to work hard for you today,’ and he always does,” the chef said. “He always has a goal and he tracks his work.”
While the job is clearly satisfying for Mejia, it is equally fulfilling for Figueroa and the rest of the Yard House staff.
“Amaury is full of life,” Figueroa said. “He loves being here and we love having him. He finds a way to make his presence felt. He is a social butterfly. He’s not shy at all.”
Matt Lacorazza, Northeast Arc Program Manager for Supported Employment, serves as Mejia’s job coach.
“We manage his case and provide whatever support he needs,” Lacorazza said, crediting Sal Palermo of Northeast Arc with developing the partnership with Yard House. “Wilson has been an excellent partner. Amaury has had his challenges, but he has learned to be a great employee.
“They get it,” Lacorazza said of Yard House. “It’s about forming relationships and adding value to your organization. This is a great example of how the partnership can work for the employee and the employer.”
Mejia, who lives in a group home in Beverly, has been participating in Northeast Arc programs for 20 years. He also works for the Northeast Arc Cleaning Company and volunteers at the Danvers Senior Center, My Brother’s Table, and Danvers Indoor Sports.
There is an obvious perk to working at a restaurant.
“He looks forward to lunch,” Figueroa said. “He says it’s the best time of the day. He always knows what he is going to order.”