BAC’s IRT Program Helps Redefine the Recipe for Success

Group Photo at Shell Harbor

Today, many restaurant operators continue to struggle post-COVID. Plagued by inflation, unsettled supply chains and a diminished pool of human resources, the new winning recipe for success includes openness and adaptability. Two key ingredients that have been a part of the dining experience at Shell Harbor Retirement Community in Rockledge since 2021. 

Former Dining Room Supervisor and Lifestyle Director, Emilio Rodriguez Franco, exclaims, “We here at Shell Harbor pride ourselves on our core values: service excellence, compassion and kindness.” Being the parent of a child with disabilities, the decision to offer internship opportunities to BAC participants seemed like a “natural fit” and Emilio was more than happy to play an integral part in helping ensure the participants that came to Shell Harbor were equally as comfortable, “It is a symbiotic type of relationship. Where the participants help us, and we help them to move along. And so far, it has been a wonderful success.” 

The Industry Readiness Training program at BAC is dedicated to providing individuals with disabilities a multidisciplinary structured program that offers those with an interest in transitioning into community employment the chance to achieve those goals. Participants are taught in a classroom setting the skills needed for high demand industries like hospitality, retail, and light manufacturing. To date, Shell Harbor has trained four (4) of BAC’s IRT participants- Valeri, Aimee, Marcus and Dylan.  

Valeri Rolling Silverware
Aimee Filling Sugar Packets
Marcus Bussing Tables
Dylan Filling Water Carafe

Shell Harbor understands that to be successful, it is not only important to find the right person, but also to find the right balance of skills and challenges, to celebrate the wins (no matter how small), and to still have a little fun. Dona DeSimone, IRT Trainer at BAC recalls, “When Dylan began volunteering at Shell Harbor, he was not very enthusiastic. Upon arriving he was very introverted and spoke in a loud, almost angry, voice. His first task was to roll silverware with a goal of 25 silverware a session. Dylan mastered the silverware rolling and the goal grew every time he went to Shell Harbor. In addition to rolling silverware, he was also beginning to vacuum the dining room. The staff and he began to form a working and friendly relationship. They play music back there (in the kitchen) and Dylan loves music. He starts bopping and rolls the best silverware in town. Now we have increased Dylan’s work time from 1.5 hrs. to 4 hrs. twice a week and Dylan is doing a wonderful job. He is now filling creamer and sugar bowls on the tables and filling water carafes before lunch begins. Dylan’s social skills have improved considerably, and he takes pride in being a part of the Shell Harbor community!”   

Current Dining Room Supervisor for Shell Harbor, Linda Willard has observed similar progress with another participant, “Aimee was shy at the beginning, but now she comes right up and offers to help our residents. I have seen her get people bowls of soup, and then she is great at clearing the tables. She is a little more cautious about it, but she is building her confidence every day. She does pretty much all of the things that any of my other servers do.” 

While there are certainly no quick fixes when it comes to staffing challenges, restaurant operators can have a taste of success with BAC’s industry readiness-based model. “…It is fabulous. If anybody asked me, I would tell them wholeheartedly to (partake in the program), because over time as the four of them have come on board, they have shown us how they are willing to become a part of things, to fit in, and to be empowered” states Kathy Roberts, Lead Server for Shell Harbor. Further noting “Valeri is great… she is receptive and such a hard worker. She likes to help, and she likes to let you know that she is excited to do things to make a difference. All of them have honestly been a pleasure (to work with) and I am so excited to be a part of it.” 

Congratulations to Dylan, Aimee, Marcus and Valeri for helping bring outstanding service to every Shell Harbor resident and thank you to Shell Harbor Retirement Community for your continued partnership. 

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