Eli Serrano recently celebrated 25 years of employment at Winn-Dixie, a huge milestone for anyone, especially an individual with an intellectual and developmental disability (IDD).

Serrano started his tenure at the Dunnellon Winn-Dixie in August of 1995 and put in for a transfer to the Inverness Winn-Dixie in 2013 when his family moved.

"I enjoy my job, it keeps me young and I like seeing all the regular customers that come in during my shift. They treat me like family," Serrano said.

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Serrano has been attending the Key Training Center (KTC) for 25 years and is part of their Key Supported Employment (KSE) program.

KSE provides a solid support system for Serrano and others like him, ensuring success in the workforce. Staff works closely with businesses and individuals with IDD for long-term employment placement. 

"Organizations in Citrus County like Wawa, Lowes, Wal-Mart, the Sheriff's Department, True-Value, Home Depot and others recognize the benefits of hiring a person with disabilities,” Barbara Branch, KTC director of day services, said. “We have 'ready to work' individuals that are qualified, reliable, and have a low turnover rate."

"Businesses are reopening with proper precautions and our people are eager to work. It's exciting to help so many people with IDD get established in jobs they love and become part of the fabric of the community,” Bethany Carpenter, KSE manager, said. “They feel they're contributing and feel needed."

"With the national shortage in the workforce, we've seen a substantial increase in the demand for individuals with IDD to fill open positions and keep businesses operating. Eli has a 25-year history of being a valued employee of Winn-Dixie, Melissa Walker, KTC executive director, said. “I think his legacy speaks to his abilities – not his 'disability' as an employee."

To learn more about KSE services, contact Shirl Elder at 352-795-5541, extension 118, or shirlktc@keytrainingcenter.org.


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