Billy's Story | Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana

Umi seafood and sushi restaurant has it all for Billy: a good schedule, a lunch break and a great crew of supportive co-workers and managers.

The product is a big perk, too. “The food tastes good! The coffee tastes great,” he said.

After about four months on the job washing dishes at Umi, Billy, 46, says he loves the job. The restaurant has proved a good fit for him since he worked with employment services at Easterseals Arc to train for work and land a job at Umi.

Now he works a three-hour mid-day shift three days a week at Umi, where he is one of four workers Easterseals Arc has trained and prepared for employment. As much as Umi suits Billy, he suits Umi, too.

“He does a great job for us. He’s always on time. He’s always eager to do what we ask,” kitchen manager Bob Miller said. “And once in a while, he makes us smile.”

In addition to the pleasures of the job, Billy enjoys having more money to indulge himself with a few purchases, such as a model of the ocean liner Titanic and his own copy of a favorite movie: “ ‘Back to School,’ with Rodney Dangerfield. I hadn’t watched that in a long time,” he said.

A year ago, Billy was laying the foundation for landing this job with a stint in Easterseals Arc’s Employment Readiness Academy at St. Joseph Hospital. He took well to washing dishes, even in the much faster-paced kitchen at the hospital.

“Billy loves doing dishes,” said Rachel Kolkman, an employment specialist at Easterseals Arc. She’s impressed by his progress at Umi. “They love Billy, and he loves them. He’s nailing it.”

Kolkman originally trained Billy in the job at Umi, then she left on maternity leave. The last week in January was the first time she had seen Billy and visited Umi after she returned from her leave.

“Tell your baby I said ‘Hi’!” Billy told her as she left the restaurant.

“I’ll tell my baby you said hi!” Kolkman said, laughing.