By Paul Newport
One of the most uplifting experiences we can have as Jubilee Jobs staff members is coming across our applicants “in the field” and on the job. These moments are valuable during this worrying time and it’s surprising how a smile can come across your face as you witness in action a few of the many wonderful, eager individuals Jubilee Jobs has helped into the workforce. This action is part of a scene, which unfolds as if you’d entered the Beatles’ song, ‘Penny Lane’. You head out the blue door of 2712 Ontario Road and into the Adams Morgan neighborhood on a run to the Supermarket – that one-stop haven for our life essentials.
At “The Citadel” Harris Teeter on Kalorama Road, you’ll walk up the stairs to hear the booming voice of Melveon calling out the virtues of the lobster dinner on sale. Stopping at his table to say hi and taste a sample is a must. Melveon yells out his exhilarating catchphrase, “Yay YAY!” as you move on to the fresh bread. When you’ve finished shopping and are checking out with the cashier, this may be Berhane tallying up your groceries and lovingly placing your fruits and veggies in a different bag from your canned goods so that your bananas don’t get squashed. “See you next time, Mr. Paul!” says Berhane, joyfully yet anxiously focused as he readies himself for the next customer’s slew of items coming down the conveyor belt. And watch out! Don’t get hit by the line of shopping carts that Lewis is barreling down the departure aisle! Font End Attendant extraordinaire, Lewis gives a quick wave and a smile before ramming the carts into the holding coral – “KASHSHSH!”
Walking back up on to Columbia Road, you realize you forgot to pick up dog food so you dodge into the Safeway. Immediately upon entering you hear your name called! It’s Ronal Logan, a newly-hired Jubilee applicant, decked out in a heavy apron, rubber boots, and green elbow-length gloves as he wipes down shopping carts and surfaces – a Virus Warrior, just like so many of the men and women out there now who we owe multitudes of thanks to. “Ronal, let me get a quick picture of you!” and almost as fast as you can click the pic, Ronal is off, having been called on the intercom to handle another of his numerous responsibilities He heads down aisle 3 and elbow bumps Nakita Barnes who is stocking the shelves with canned goods, rice, pasta, juice and, hallelujah, paper towels!! “What’s up, Nakita?!” “Oh you know: one day at a time, my man, one day at a time.” You walk out with your Blue Buffalo Chicken cuts in gravy thinking about how Shannon Fields is doing on her first day over at the Georgetown Safeway. Hopefully, Christine’s applicant, Temeka is showing her how best to stack a pile of avocados.
The work for dignity, sustenance, and hope is being nobly performed by these inspiring men and women as this letter is being written. Each of them is doing their part to help keep the Supermarkets of our community running smoothly as we navigate the unknowns of this Pandemic. There are many more of these Jubilee Jobs Alumni all over our city, beginning jobs with CVS, Giant, George Washington Hospital and many other establishments that are staying open to provide us with what we need in order to function. At this time when the loudest mantra is “Stay at home”, there are those individuals who do not because without them the rest of us could not. Jubilee Jobs is helping send essential workers like Melveon, Berhane, Ronal, and Shannon to serve and be a helping hand during this difficult time. It’s easy to take this for granted and it’s hard to imagine getting by without the services these applicants provide to their community.