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July 15, 2020

McDonald’s has provided us with opportunity – and helped ensure our safety – during these scary times

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Jaelyn and Jocelyn F.McDonald’s Crew Members Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
McDonald’s crew members Jaelyn and Jocelyn Fluker.

Jaelyn and Jocelyn Fluker share their experience balancing their education and working at a McDonald’s restaurant.

We’re grateful for the role that McDonald’s has played in our journey and the feeling of stability they have brought in uncertain times.

Jaelyn and Jocelyn Fluker, aged 21, are crew members at a McDonald’s restaurant in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Like a lot of people, the coronavirus crisis turned our world upside down. When we were sent home early from classes at college, our family was feeling scared and confused. We didn’t know what the future would hold—for our education, for our ability to work, or for our health. But we’ve been lucky. While so much in our lives has changed over these last few months, we have been able to find stability in a place some might find surprising—our jobs at a McDonald’s franchise.

When we first came home from college, we focused on finishing our classes online but felt like something was off. Since we were juniors in high school, when we were at home, we worked at our local McDonald’s. When we went off to college, we came back on breaks and summer vacations to our jobs. Being stuck at home and away from our classmates, we missed our local restaurant colleagues and customers. We quickly realized that, despite the pandemic, we wanted to go back to work.

This isn’t as simple for us as it is for others. One of us has health issues as a result of being born 25 weeks premature. Our mom, who is raising us alone, was worried. And she was right to. With all the stories about people getting sick, no one knew how much a company could or would do to help ensure the health and well-being of crew. When our manager reached out alerting us of the safety measures put in place we got excited about the potential to return to work. The franchise owner had plexiglass barriers installed, crew members were wearing masks, and social distance decals were placed around the restaurant along with other measures like increased hand washing. We talked about it together, and our mom said she felt the steps our McDonald’s franchisee took to help ensure the health and well-being of crew were really great. We came up with a game plan as a family and agreed that we could go back to work and continue to do what we love: serving our community, and helping to give people a smile, in a time when we’re all facing instability and conflict.

To be honest, we weren’t surprised. The reality is that we’ve always felt our manager, Miss Gail, has looked out for us. It was true when we first started and we were trying to navigate our packed school, church, and sports schedules. It was true when we learned about McDonald’s Archways to Opportunity program, which has provided us with college tuition assistance year after year and means we will graduate with less student debt than a lot of our friends. It’s true when we were honored by the Mayor for our hard work and dedication. And it is true now, as we are able to work in a caring environment and help our community while it’s struggling.

Jaelyn, Jocelyn and their mom.

Jaelyn, Jocelyn and their mom.

It’s meant a lot to us to be able to work during these past few months. We’ve seen the stress and uncertainty our neighbors are going through. We’re proud to be there for the frontline workers coming off of a late shift and looking for a meal, for the families who may not be able to access a grocery store but still need to feed their kids, and for seniors who need a hot cup of coffee.

This is an incredibly stressful time for so many, and we know how lucky we are that we didn’t have to go back to work if we weren’t comfortable. Many people don’t have that choice. Companies like McDonald’s are playing an important role in helping people through this time and continue promoting access to work opportunities beyond this crisis.

Our mom always told us to treat any job we have like it is ours, and to treat any job you have with respect, responsibility and appreciation. Our McDonald’s has been kind, generous and flexible in return. We know the things we’ve learned at the restaurant such as customer service, teamwork, problem solving, communications, community-building and so much more, will translate into our future careers, working in psychology and criminal justice.

As we work to feed people from all walks of life every day, we see that there is so much bringing us together. We’re grateful for the role that McDonald’s has played in our journey and the feeling of stability they have brought in uncertain times. We hope other employers will follow their lead, creating pathways to opportunity for young people like us.

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