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June 12, 2017

Job makes young man “somewhat self-sufficient”

Photos/Cassandra Brown
Dylan Henry uses some of his earnings to buy Christmas and birthday presents for his family.
He works Thursdays and every other weekend at the New Baltimore restaurant.
“He brings a smile to everyone’s face,” says Stephen Haskett (right), a Northside 29 cook.
People do count on him to be here. He feels really good about himself. I’m proud of him.
— Michelle Henry, his mother
Dylan Henry
• Age: 24

• Home: Brandy Station, near Culpeper; formerly Warrenton.

• Family: Mother, Michelle; father, Paul; brother, Daniel and sister, Amie.

• Work: Part-time dishwasher, Northside 29 Diner, 2012 to present.

• Education: Kettle Run High School, 2012.

• Hobbies: Video games, adult coloring books, riding four wheelers, cleaning and cooking.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
He wakes up around 4 a.m., excited to work at the New Baltimore diner.

Dylan Henry, 24, five years ago landed a job as a part-time dishwasher at Northside 29 Diner.

Dylan started working there through the Fauquier school system’s Employment Training Program during his junior year at Kettle Run High School.

The program provides opportunities for special needs students to get employment experience with local businesses. The elective class allows them to leave school midway through the day for unpaid internships.

Dylan, who has Down syndrome, graduated from Kettle Run in 2012 and earned a paid position at the diner that May.

“He was already a trained employee,” co-owner Tracey Chakalos said. “Not a lot of people want that spot. He’s great at it. He loves it, and we love having him.”

Dylan said he enjoys operating the commercial dish washer and scrubbing pots and pans.

“If dishes run through and they didn’t get 100 percent clean, he’s going to rewash them, which is phenomenal,” head server Cecily Brown said. “No matter what you ask him to do, he’s more than happy to help you out. He’s a very well-rounded employee.”

Dylan also helps put away clean dishes, empty the trash, mop the kitchen and bathrooms, refill the ice container at the bar and roll silverware. He occasionally clears tables.

The popular restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Dylan works each Thursday and every other weekend from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Working at the diner makes him happy, he said.

His favorite item on the menu? The steak and cheese sub.

On occasion, Dylan gets distracted by music — he loves to dance, especially to Michael Jackson — or socializing, but he takes the job seriously and does well with a set routine.

“He does his job efficiently with zeal and enthusiasm,” Ms. Chakalos said.

Dylan’s mom, Michelle Henry, said the job has helped him mature and learn about responsibility.

“He’s able to be somewhat self-sufficient,” Ms. Henry said. “For Dylan, he has some self-worth because he gets a paycheck. People do count on him to be here. He feels really good about himself. I’m proud of him.”

He rarely wants to leave when his workday ends, she added.

“It’s like his extended family here,” Ms. Henry said. “Dylan has never met a stranger. He treats everyone with kindness and compassion and genuine friendship whether he knows you or doesn’t.”

Dylan also enjoys the fact that he can earn his own money.

“I’m going to get presents for Christmas, birthdays,” he said.

Kitchen Manager Alex Rodriguez has worked with Dylan for four years.

“He’s a hard worker and friendly with everyone,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “He’s always on time, never late. I love working with him.”

Cook Stephen Heskett said, “He brings a smile to everyone’s face.”

“I really feel that there’s a lot of employers that could open their doors up to local youth who have Down syndrome and learning disabilities and really are trainable,” Ms. Chakalos said. “I think a lot of people don’t give them the benefit of the doubt.”
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