News & Information > News Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 9, 2019

CONTACT: Melanie Mowry Etters
Communication Director
850-414-7551

Home of the Whopper and Justin Coleman

By Tim Brown

PANAMA CITY, FL – Customers feel right at home when Justin Coleman greets them upon arrival at this busy Burger King. Every day, the restaurant receives tourists, business travelers, and locals along U.S. Highway 231, Panama City’s main highway. Coleman oversees the lobby, and his duties include welcoming guests, delivering their meals, and making sure they have a clean, comfortable dining experience.

Coleman enjoys his job serving regulars and making new friends every day. “I help the customers. They need me and depend on me,” he said.

When not interacting with visitors inside the restaurant, Coleman delivers food to drive-through customers who may have to wait in the parking lot. He is also expected to check on the supplies and cleanliness of the restrooms.

Burger King General Manager Peter Russ said, “Justin is dependable and once he learns what to do, he just does it with minimal prompting.”

Coleman has a developmental disability and receives services from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD). October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and APD is highlighting the workplace achievements of people with disabilities and the employers that hire them.

Coleman was introduced to Burger King in March through The Arc of the Bay. He was interviewed and soon offered a job. A job coach provided continuous, on-site mentoring during his first week on the job. Coleman continued to receive on-site support, which faded to short weekly visits as he grew more accomplished. He now works the lunch shift three days a week and uses Bay Coordinated Transportation to travel to and from Burger King.

When not working, Coleman enjoys NASCAR races, Wisconsin Badgers college football, Green Bay Packers professional football, bingo, and bowling. Like all living in the area, Coleman and his family experienced Hurricane Michael in October 2018. Coleman and his friends lost a favorite pastime, their bowling league. A local bowling center was so badly damaged the owner chose to close the business rather than rebuild.

Coleman continues to be supported by his family at home, The Arc of the Bay, and now his Burger King family. “My boss, Peter, respects me. I am happy to come to work.”

APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn, and work in their communities. The agency annually serves more than 55,000 Floridians with autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, Phelan-McDermid syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more information about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit apdcares.org or call toll free 1-866-APD-CARES (1-866-273-2273).