David R.

“David is the happiest person I’ve ever worked with, and one of the hardest workers. Every time we give him more jobs to do, he takes them on gladly.”

This is how Timothy Hoover, Executive Chef at Hilton Garden Inn Ithaca, describes David R., the hotel’s current Employee of the Month.

David was initially referred to Challenge Workforce Solutions by Tompkins Workforce New York. A little over a year ago, he accompanied Employment Specialist Ryan Notarpole and former Business Outreach Coordinator Mike Barry to Challenge’s Reverse Job Fair, where he met with recruiters from the Hilton. Not a week later, he got a call saying they wanted him to start right away.

Since then, David has become a mainstay in the hotel’s busy kitchen. In addition to his primary job of dishwashing, which he jokingly refers to as “going swimming,” he has been gamely accepting new tasks of increasing responsibility—most recently, preparing salads for lunch patrons at Kilpatrick’s, the hotel’s popular Irish pub. David also takes real pride in his deep-cleaning skills: “When I clean,” he says, “It gets very clean.”

While he enjoys the autonomy of his work—“when I’m running the dishwasher, I’m running my own show”—David is recognized as someone on whom his teammates can rely for a helping hand, a kind word, or a laugh. As his Employee of the Month citation reads, “He has always brought a positive and welcoming personality to work with him every day. He not only excels at his job but he offers assistance to others in times of need.”

Says David of his team, “I’ve made a lot of new friends here that I didn’t expect to make.”