Drive-Thru Dan

Meet Dan, from Newcastle.

He lives with an intellectual disability, packs a cheeky grin and is one of the nicest young people you’d ever hope to meet.

"He’s pretty much running the joint!”

Growing up in the Lower Hunter region of NSW, working at ‘Maccas’ was Dan’s dream job, so when the opportunity came to get an interview at his local store with the support of Omnia Inclusive, Dan jumped at the chance. It’s fair to say things went pretty well, as he’s now been a crew member at McDonalds Edgeworth for five years. “Five years and two months actually!” Dan is quick to remind anyone within earshot, holding up two fingers and sporting a beaming smile from ear to ear, framed by his cherished drive-thru headset.

“I first met Dan right here at McDonald’s Edgeworth,” says Dan’s Case Manager and day-to-day contact at Omnia Inclusive, James Pearson. “In fact, I used to work here myself and was actually Dan’s first Manager!”

“Dan came through the Omnia Inclusive ‘One Step Closer’ program,” James explains. “That gave him the skills he needed for interviewing, things like answering questions correctly, knowing what to expect on the day and showing his passion for the business.”

When Dan got the job, he started working in the dining room. Within a couple of months, he’d completed all of his orientation. “The rest is history,” laughs James. “Now he’s pretty much running the joint!” 

In his time at McDonald’s Edgeworth, Dan has worked across most parts of the business. Lately, a lot of shifts have seen him working in the drive-thru, which he loves. Dan also really enjoys meeting customers. “Like Roy and Helen!” he announces enthusiastically. “They come in every afternoon and order two small flat whites, full cream, half strength, extra hot!”

"My phone is always on"
James continues to work with Dan every week, although their relationship has changed over the years as Dan’s own needs have shifted. “If there’s ever something at work Dan needs a hand with, or doesn’t quite understand, he knows my phone is always on,” says James. “At the start we provided one-on-one support, just making sure he was getting used to his new role and answering any questions he had. If there were new procedures Dan needed to know, we would help him with those. Nowadays we’re spending our one-on-one time helping him complete his TAFE Certificate in Retail. That will be another fantastic achievement for Dan.”

“Dan is also doing fortnightly speech therapy at the moment,” adds James. “So I work with him and his managers at McDonald’s to make sure his shifts always allow for that.”

James and Dan also catch up socially in what, clearly, is more than just a work relationship. “Dan’s a very good bloke,” says James. “I’ve known him over five years now and we’ve been through plenty together. We’ve been to the pub together, had dinner together, and we still have lunch together every Christmas too.”

Speaking with Dan’s colleagues, this is a common theme. He’s a popular crew member, but perhaps his greatest fan is his current manager, Kodie, who has known him for around ten years. “I went to school with Dan,” she explains. “We were in the same year together, and then afterwards we were both employed here at McDonald’s Edgeworth. I’ve essentially grown my own career with Dan.”

“He brings such a positive attitude, always here, ready to work and does an amazing job, day in, day out,” Kodie continues. “Over the last few years, he’s just progressed so much and it’s phenomenal to know we’ve all been a part of that.”

“Everyone gets their chance”

McDonald’s and Omnia Inclusive share a long and proud history. As Kodie explains, the connection is as deep and genuine as ever. “We want to give everyone an equal opportunity, that’s what McDonald’s is all about. Everyone gets their chance, so when someone comes to an interview and you can see how eager they are and willing to learn, we love being able to welcome them as a crew member.”

“Personally, I’ve worked with four to five people now who have been hired through Omnia Inclusive,” she continues. “They’ve all been such good employees. They work so hard and you get to see their development, almost daily.”

Of course, the development Dan has enjoyed at McDonald’s extends far beyond his work life. Armed with new confidence and skills, he’s been able to make new friends, take on new challenges, and generally make giant strides in other parts of his life at home and beyond. Many weekends you’ll find Dan at the football, cheering on his beloved Newcastle Knights in the NRL. He also regularly plays golf with his mates, although he admits his game isn’t the greatest. 

“I’m not very good at golf,” smiles Dan, before adding a cheeky footnote. “But my mates say I’m a big fan of the 19th hole!”

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