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David Dillard's Progress and Pride at Papa John's Inspires Others

DDILLARD CROPPEDGetting a job was very important to David Dillard. After a few sample job assignments, the perfect match came along, building pizza boxes at Papa John's in Kernersville. Dillard has been working at Papa John's for almost a decade, between volunteering and other activities, folding and forming the boxes that carry all the hot, delicious pizzas.

"He's done very well with it. He's a very outgoing young man, he's very social. Tasks he's given there he takes seriously. He really enjoys his time there being with other people, being purposeful," said Connie Dillard, David's mother.

Working has helped David make great leaps in his physical abilities and consequently, improve his quality of life. For a young man who was not expected to walk when he was a child, he is now mobile with the assistance of a walker and therapy. David struggled with finger dexterity when he started at Papa John's, but he now averages 200 boxes in two hours, manipulating the boxes with quick speed.

Connie Dillard drops him off each day at the restaurant to meet Monarch Developmental Specialist Gwen Blane who supports him on the job. Over the years, both Dillard and Blane said they've seen David grow, learn and mature. David has learned how to take on responsibility and stay focused, which also gives him independence. Working at Papa John's has helped him with decision making and teaching him that he can make his own choices.

It's clear David takes pride in his work. He's often the first person customers interact with when they arrive. He's quick to greet them with enthusiasm. His co-workers can also rely on him for a friendly greeting and to check on how they're doing.

"David makes everyone he meets feel special," said Blane. "From the weekly delivery men who come in to the mailman, David greets each person with a smile and a kind word. The delivery drivers leave with a smile when they hear David yell, 'be safe,'" said Blane.

Dillard looks forward to going to work each day and is proud to sport his Papa John's polo shirt and matching hat. When he's not at work or volunteering, he's shopping for new books and hats to add to his growing collection, or having coffee with friends. Spending time with his work family, church family and his own family is everything to him.

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