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Columbus Industries’ Participant Greets Customers with a Smile

CROPPED Dawn Fowler for WebsiteAmid the hectic bustle of the lunch crowd ordering their familiar favorites, Dawn Fowler ensures that the Whiteville McDonald’s dining room is five-star.

Fowler, who has not missed a day of work since hired, is known for her characteristic smile. “She is always so happy,” testifies McDonald’s Manager Letha Hancock, placing an arm around Fowler’s shoulder. “That certainly is a plus when working in the dining room.”

Hired in June following an application and interview process, Fowler, 30, admits she was a little nervous during the interview process.

“The manager asked me questions about what I would do in certain work situations,” she remembers. Her experience working at another McDonald’s location in High Point, before moving to Whiteville, provided her with knowledge and experience to correctly answer the questions.

Fowler moved to Whiteville in 2017 and was excited about the prospect of securing a job and attending the Columbus Industries day program. She began her role at McDonald’s with a job coach, but managers quickly realized one wasn’t needed. “Dawn takes care of what she needs to do,” says Hancock.

Columbus Industries located in Whiteville serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through a variety of supports and programs.

Fowler was concerned that with a job she wouldn’t be able to participate at Columbus Industries. Community Engagement Team Leader Susie Nathan assured Fowler that wasn’t an issue.

“I told her that she would still be able to be an active member of the day program in addition to her new job. I told her she can come in when she isn’t working. We are flexible with her schedule.”

After clocking in, Fowler’s responsibilities at McDonald’s include cleaning tables in the dining room, removing the trash bins, sweeping and making sure the drink station is clean.

“This job makes me happy and gets me out of the house,” she says of her three-day-a-week role.

Fowler proudly wears her uniform along with her signature smile. She confides that the customers are the best part of her day at work.

“I get along with all of the customers and the staff. I like meeting people,” shares Fowler.

The budding artist also enjoys making wreaths at Columbus Industries, where many of the creations handmade by people we support are sold. Fowler is proud that several pieces of her artwork have sold.

Photo caption: Columbus Industries' Dawn Fowler shows off her signature smile during a recent shift at McDonald's.

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