By Kathleen Layton
Shaw’s in Cranston, Rhode Island bustled with energy on a recent Tuesday morning. The store was gleaming, and the produce department was filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, arranged neatly and even artistically. This is where customers can find Dave Huntoon, a proud Shaw’s employee for over 12 years.
On October 22 I talked to Dave while he calmly replenished an onion display. A multitasker, Dave answered questions and stocked vegetables — all while pausing to personally direct customers to their desired fruit or vegetable. Asked how he feels about his job, Dave replied, “I like the people I work with because they are friendly and always help each other. Organizing the produce is important because you want to make it look nice and keep it well stocked.” The produce certainly looked nice and was superbly stocked during my visit.
A 2004 Pilgrim High School graduate, Dave works approximately 15 hours every week. On weekdays he takes a RIPTA bus to and from work and on the weekends, his father plays chauffer. Dave lives in Warwick with his parents and is one of three boys. When asked what he enjoys doing when he is not working, Dave beams, “I help my mom babysit my nephews. My nephews absolutely love me, and I get a kick out of spending time with them. The boys are my biggest fans!” Considering Dave’s enthusiasm and kindness, I am not surprised.
As an essential employee, Dave has been working throughout the pandemic. When asked if that was scary, Dave shared, “With this job, you gotta put your heart into it. Sure, it was nerve-wracking at first, but I feel safe and like coming to work.”
In 2006 Dave formed a relationship with the J. Arthur Trudeau Memorial Center as a part of its Transition Academy. This program helps individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities become contributing members of their community through meaningful employment. The Trudeau Center is especially proud of pairing Dave with Shaw’s and enjoys watching Dave’s career grow. As the agency celebrates the national Disability Employment Awareness Month, we salute companies like Shaw’s and employees like Dave for working hard to make work work — for people with disabilities.
Please consider giving to the Trudeau Center.
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