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Nick McElhaney loves his work, and his work loves him.
"People look forward to the days he comes to work because he puts a smile on everybody's face" said Nick's boss, said Sally Ellis, whose family owns Pearl Valley Cheese. Nick works two days a week.
Nick feels the same way.
"He looks forward to going, its a highlight of his week" said Nick's dad Duane. "He never says 'I don't want to go to work'" added Carol, Nick's mom. Indeed, on the wintry days when the Hopewell shuttle can't pick him up to go to work his parents brave the snow to deliver him, because Nick doesn't want to miss work.
Nick, 28, who has Down syndrome, starts his days at the Hopewell Industries workshop and on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons he heads to Pearl Valley, where he does a variety of tasks. And every task is done with a dedication to detail and precision, and performed with a smile.
It is important for people with Downs syndrome to work in the community, explained Sharon Burns, a Service and Support Administrator at the Coshocton County Board of Developmental Disabilities "It helps them to feel like they are part of the community, doing the same thing their parents are doing, or their siblings."
"He feels included, like a productive citizen" said Duane.
"More grown up, and like everyone else" Carol added.
Nick has been visiting Pearl Valley since he was a child, and began to stop by to do odd jobs years ago - before starting to put in a regular shift about two years ago. "We tried it, and it worked out, and it seems like it has been this way forever," Sally said.
It isn't just Nick's co-workers who look forward to seeing him, but regular customers too. "He doesn’t forget someone, if he met you he doesn’t forget you. He is very warm to customers" Sally said. "He has taught me more about life than just about anyone God has brought into my world" she added.
Nick's purpose in life is to get a smile out of people, no matter where he is and he usually does. "If you met Nick, you have a friend for life" Duane said.
"More people need to be like him" Carol added. "it doesn't matter who you are, what you look like, he treats everyone the same."
This article has been reproduced for educational purposes only and appeared in the Coshocton Tribune. The original story can be found at: http://www.coshoctontribune.com/story/news/2017/10/27/puts-smile-everybodys-face/107062398/
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