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Washing His Way to Independence

By Janeil Jackson

Independent living has always been a goal for Elijah Killings who currently lives at home with his parents. Landing a job in food services is helping to make that goal a reality.

Killings, 23, works as a dishwasher at John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. He has a developmental disability and receives services from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD).

With the help of Supported Employment Services and Project Search, Killings was able to set career goals and learn different skills throughout the year. He started to show an interest in food services and received an internship with the hospital. After graduating high school, he was given a full-time position in the room service/food services department as a dishwasher.

“I started out as an intern and was thinking about how I needed some money to survive in today’s world,” said Killings. “I’ve always been good with kids, so I thought why not help out the next generation.”

When Killings started working at the hospital four years ago, there was an issue with getting to work on time. APD services and a steady paycheck helped Killings quickly correct the situation.

“At first I didn’t have any money for the bus,” said Killings. “Once I started getting a paycheck and got help setting a bus schedule, I could get to work on time and pay for it on my own.”

Killings really enjoys working at the hospital and is tasked with collecting trays and carts and washing them. When he has some free time at work he likes to socialize with the patients and his coworkers and meet new people.

The staff at the hospital enjoys having Killings around and appreciates the great work ethic he brings on a regular basis.

“Elijah consistently makes rounds to the patient units to collect trays in a timely manner,” said John Braymer, Food Services Manager. “He has adapted to following regulatory requirements such as recording of dish machine logs and verifying that equipment is functioning properly. He has even trained several new hires on the job routine of his Food Service Associate position.”

When not at work, Killings enjoys a variety of activities from sports to animation, and even babysitting.

“I like to do a lot of things. I like soccer, drawing animations, going to new places, and meeting new people,” said Killings. “I also babysit my friend’s child at their restaurant when they are busy.”

In the beginning the most enjoyable part of the job was the free food from the cafeteria, but now Killings is really enjoying getting to meet new people and build new friendships.

The works hasn't always been easy, but Killings enjoys the challenges, has learned a lot, and hopes his experiences will help him reach his goal of independent living.

“This job has been challenging, it’s got its moments,” said Killings. “But I like that I have had opportunities to learn different skills in the food services department.”