DON'T BE FOOLED by Alex’s side-splitting Elvis impersonation. When it comes to work, this wise-cracking goofball takes his job very seriously.
Alex was referred to Goodwill’s Work Readiness program by Community Mental Health of Ottawa County for vocational training. The program is offered at Goodwill Employment & Training Center (ETC) in Holland. Participants are given paid work skills training opportunities performing light industrial tasks such as packaging for Holland-area manufacturers.
Goodwill ETC Site Supervisor Raquel Hall reached out to Zeeland food production company Dutch Treat Foods and together they created a unique partnership. Owner and President Scott Brookens was intrigued, and they designed a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Every Tuesday and Friday, two Work Readiness program participants are transported to Dutch Treat Foods to work for two hours in the food production facility. Goodwill Skills Development Trainer Alexis Lubbers accompanies, trains, and supervises the workers to ensure quality standards. One of those workers is Alex. The other position is rotated among other participants and they receive a regular employee hourly wage for their work.
“When Alex started working at Dutch Treat it was clear to me this was something he was truly interested in,” Raquel said. “He maintained his humorous personality but in a much more professional manner. He was eager to learn the different skills involved in the job. It was the first time I had seen him exceed expectations by his own drive to learn and grow.”
Locally-owned Dutch Treat Foods produces and packages a variety of deli salads (pasta, potato, cole slaw, etc.) that are sold throughout the Midwest. Alex and his teammate often work on packaging shredded cheese into small packets to be used as salad kit components. Cheese must be weighed to a specific quantity, bagged, labeled, and heat-sealed.
“Alex has such a bright and genuine attitude when he walks in,” Scott said. “He is here and ready to work. He takes his job very seriously but at the same time he can have fun. It’s nice having the work consistency and knowing our tasks are getting completed and getting completed really well.”
“This is a whole new environment for him,” Alexis said. “He has grown so much from being here. He has this really infectious smile. He is just a positive person and it spreads.”
“This unique program is something more employers should consider doing,” Scott said. “It’s great to have Alex showing up and just building a really great culture and vibe and just having fun with the other employees on the team.”
- Scott Brookens, President / Owner
Dutch Treat Foods
Dutch Treat Foods manufactures a variety of fresh food products, including potato salads, pasta salads, slaws, hummus, salsa, baked beans, apple sauce, and more. This second-generation, family-owned company has been producing handcrafted, fresh food products for customers throughout the Midwest for over 30 years.