Chris Caldwell, beaming a proud smile, admits to his popularity at Tops Friendly Markets in Olean, where he has been bagging groceries for 18 years.
“I know some people who like to go through my line,” he said, revealing his engaging and friendly personality. “I like bagging groceries, but I don’t pack them too heavy.”
Chris began working at Tops right after completing high school in a job his father, John, advocated for on his behalf.
“John’s been a strong advocate for Chris for his employment in the community,” Nancy Miller, Director of Vocational Services, said, adding Chris also works for SubCon Industries a couple days a week putting lids on cups, another job he likes and does enthusiastically.
While Chris began working at Tops Markets long before he came to SubCon, the Agency sees his exemplar work ethic and positive relationship with Tops as a model for the Vocational Services Program which provides opportunities for people with disabilities to discover their personal strengths and plan for the future. Those opportunities may be in a job placement such as Chris’ at Tops or a pre-vocational program at which individuals learn real world work skills for eventual job placement.
“Our goal is to assist each individual to present to their employer or volunteer supervisor as a dependable, responsible, and trustworthy employee who will be a valuable asset to their business and a productive member of the community,” Nancy said, adding Chris is a great example. He has never missed a day of work at Tops and has earned the respect of his supervisor, Tim Lyons, Tops Manager in Olean.
“I like Tim. He’s a nice guy and a good boss,” Chris said, adding “he’s always nice to me.”
“Chris has become one of our customer’s favorites,” Tim said. “Some customers actually request his line just so he can bag their groceries and have a friendly conversation.”
While Chris works at both Tops and SubCon, he still has energy left over to volunteer happily at the Cider Mill in Portville, near his home.
“They make homemade doughnuts,” he said, confessing that while he likes greeting customers, he especially likes to sample the doughnuts.
“He’s very friendly and he likes being busy and enjoys people. It’s what he does,” Nancy said, proudly of Chris. “It’s his friendly attitude and naturally engaging personality that has earned him the admiration of customers and employers alike.’