Like so many people with Down Syndrome, Freia David from Needham, Massachusetts, has never had it easy in life. Growing up, she faced a great deal of hardship due to her disability. In the early 1980s when she finished school and it was time to pursue a career, it was a struggle to find the right job for her.
She ended up seeking consultation at the Charles River Center—an agency that supports the disabled by helping them find jobs and offering them housing.
The agency put her in touch with McDonalds, one of the center’s first business partners, who promptly hired her and put her in charge of the french fry station at the restaurant. Initially, staff members at Charles River Center were worried Freia wouldn’t be able to handle the responsibilities of the job. However, according to her manager, Freia would always show up on time, hug her manager and ask him if she’d done a good job after each shift, to which he would respond with a smile and a high five. Customers quickly grew to love Freia and would often come in just to see her.
Now 32 years later, it is time for Freia to hang up her apron and retire as the first signs of dementia start to set in. Over 100 people attended her retirement party at the end of August, which was filled with lots of balloons, cake, photos, and fond memories. Freia was deeply touched by all those who turned up to wish her well in the next chapter of her life. “It was nice. I’m really happy,” she commented. “I like all my friends here.”
What a powerful reminder of the way that people of all backgrounds can make a beautiful contribution to society. We wish Freia all the best for the future!