CAMP HORNE, Pa. — DuPree Dawkins is one of the newest members of the Giant Eagle family to come to the chain through Project Opportunity.
DuPree, who has been with Giant Eagle for six months, is a 19-year-old who told SN he has a learning disability. "It takes me longer to learn things," he explained.
That isn't evident, however, on the job or off. Since graduating from high school in June, Dawkins has been attending Community College of Allegheny County, where he's majoring in business management.
"My goal is to open my own business someday and work for myself," he said, though he said he isn't sure what business he'd like to be in.
Dawkins started working at Giant Eagle as a bagger at a store in West View, a Pittsburgh suburb, while waiting for something better to open up. Within a month, he moved to the Giant Eagle here, where he's a prepared-foods clerk: taking orders, making sandwiches and checking out customers.
Before starting with Giant Eagle, Dawkins was a cashier at McDonald's for four months, "but I like this job better because there are more things to do and more opportunities," he told SN.
"I get to take a hands-on approach: putting food out for display and making recommendations on what customers should or should not buy, and I like that."
He learned about Project Opportunity through his high school counselor, who directed him to Pittsburgh Vision Services, the agency that works with the chain to train potential employees with disabilities.
"The people from PVS took me to the Giant Eagle store in West View to learn how to bag groceries and to ask how I felt about the job, and they told me there would be an opening for a better opportunity if I became a bagger," Dawkins told SN.
Dawkins said he learned how to bag in one day even though training with PVS continued for 14 days.
Once the prepared-foods clerk position opened up, Dawkins moved to the store here for three days of training. Since then, he's been pretty much on his own, he said.
Dawkins works a part-time shift, putting in 25 to 30 hours a week. The store manager is aware of his college work, "and there are no scheduling problems because she told me the company is willing to work around my school schedule," he said.