Gabby Gibson smiles for a photo while cleaning the lobby.

Gabby Gibson smiles for a photo while cleaning the lobby.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

St. Clair Shores resident makes a difference at Warren KFC

By: Emily Jones | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published August 20, 2018

ST. CLAIR SHORES/WARREN — “Don’t touch Gabby’s cookies!”

This is a phrase that KFC manager Ashley Heard says that everyone on staff knows. Gabby Gibson always makes sure to keep her co-workers in line if they attempt to snag a cookie while she’s bagging them for sale to customers.

She is known to everyone around her as a hardworking and delightful personality.

Gabby, who has Down syndrome, recently won Employee of the Year from JVS, which helps people who are experiencing difficulty finding employment because of various life factors, such as having a disability, being a stay-at-home mom or advancing in age.

 JVS has an event every year called Strictly Business, in which it picks three people who excel in what they do and demonstrate specific skills that make a good employee.

“Gabby was definitely a star,” said JVS employment facilitator Dan Maselli. 

Gabby’s work ethic and sunny disposition have made her a standout in the Pathways to Careers program that she is enrolled in at JVS.

On winning the award, mom Lorna Gibson said that everyone has been extremely supportive of Gabby. The Gibsons were stopped by attendees of the ceremony who wanted to hear where Gabby worked so that they could come in and visit her. Maselli said that he has had people say, “We’re going in to see Gabby,” when told about the program and her progression in it.

As evidence of her superb customer service, she has received notes and tips from customers in the past.

“We love when Gabby comes in, and she always puts a smile on everyone’s face” said Heard. 

“She benefits us and puts everybody in a good mood when we see her. She picks up new things that she sees ... without asking or being told. She always stays busy and tries to do something,” Heard continued.

Gabby works in all areas of the restaurant, including cleaning, preparing food and taking orders at the register. 

Gabby attended Lake Shore High School, where she was the manager for her school soccer team. She still attends alumni soccer games.

After graduating from high school, Gabby attended the Lutz School for Work Experience. 

Lutz shows individuals how to work jobs ranging from janitorial work to fast food to retail support. Gabby had an amazing time at Lutz and said she misses her teachers dearly.

“(They) trained her because they would go out and do jobs at other locations and … that’s what taught her how to work,” said Lorna Gibson.

“I am so happy,” said Gabby on winning the award. 

As a fan of Channel 4 news, Gabby was also happy when she was presented with the award by Devin Scillian.

JVS programs are sponsored by Michigan Rehabilitation Services. The application is extensive, and participants are randomly selected from continuing education services, such as the Lutz School for Work Experience. 

“They (JVS) gave Gabby a job, and she’s so happy to come to work every day, you know? I don’t want her to be at home. … I want her to feel like part of the community. She loves coming to work,” said Lorna Gibson.

Gabby does feel like part of the community, and she’s earning money while doing it. Gabby and her grandmother are huge Elvis aficionados, so every year Lorna Gibson takes them down to Memphis for an Elvis weekend. Gabby said she is saving her checks for the event. 

“I would never do that for anyone else — going down to Memphis in August — because it’s a thousand degrees down there,” said Lorna Gibson. 

To contact JVS, call (586) 294-5890.