Liz Breaking Down Barriers

If you’ve been to GiGi’s Playhouse, specifically Hugs & Mugs, chances are you’ve met our intern, Liz. While we all know her great smile and infectious laugh, but how much do we really know her? We spoke to Liz and her mom, Beth, to talk about Liz’s experience at GiGi’s, interning at Hugs & Mugs, and her career experience working at Chic Fil A!

Liz has been coming to GiGi’s since 2012, when she aged out of Hoffman Estates High School. She immediately enrolled in our Career Development Programs and has been an intern at Hugs & Mugs ever since. Liz also attends our social programs like Fantastic Friends when she isn’t playing a variety of sports with Special Olympics or running around trying to maintain her busy social life. Liz also volunteers at some of GiGi’s events, like the National Conference and the National Gala!

Liz started her position at Chic Fil A in August 2021. She is the hostess, which means she is responsible for welcoming patrons into the restaurant. She is also responsible for cleaning all the tables and chairs/benches, windowsills, and the sinks in the back kitchen. She also cleans the food trays and gathers them, along with the table markers, and returns them to the front counter. She also sweeps the dining area. One of Liz’s favorite parts of her job is helping customers refill their drinks. According to Liz’s mom, she also gives orders to her Dad (who also works at Chic Fil A) when the trash needs to be taken out. We love a great father/daughter duo! Liz says the skills she learned at GiGi’s, specifically Hugs & Mugs, has helped prepare her for employment in the community by teaching her valuable skills.

We asked Liz’s mom, Beth, if she had any barriers to getting Liz employed in the community. “Yes… We had two very bad situations with other fast-food places, and one had already hired her… they backed out and didn’t even notify us…” We are so proud of Liz and her family for not letting the negative actions of others stop them for fighting for acceptance in the community. Liz’s story is not rare in the Down syndrome community, which is why we cannot stop the fight for acceptance for all! Liz is one of our hardest workers, always willing to complete whatever task is asked of her, and always does so with a smile and a giggle. So next time you’re in Hugs & Mugs or get a craving for some Chic Fil A, stop by and say ‘Hi!’ to Liz!

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