COLUMBIA — Some people consider washing dishes a chore. But for Debbie Graves, being a Pizza Hut dishwasher is her dream job.
"I just like my job and people around me," Graves said. "My job is important to me."
She got her job through the discovery and exploration point with Job Point in Randolph County. That was three years ago. Job Point Senior Advisor Becky Roe said she loves to help people like Debbie.
"We could already tell by her previous work that she had great work ethics, but she had been trying to get a job on her own," Roe said. "What she needed was help finding that supportive and friendly environment that Pizza Hut gives her.”
Her coworkers describe her as hard working, positive, and efficient. Pizza Hut General Manager Natasha Scherry said it's easy to see she loves her job. That's why she's one of two Job Point Award of Excellence winners.
According to the organization, winners are selected for exemplary employment and overcoming personal obstacles.
"Everyone here loves Debbie. She gets along with everyone. She’s always in a good mood,” Scherry said. "You can definitely tell that she loves her job."
But friendly coworkers aren't the only thing Graves got from Job Point. She got independence, too.
"Job Point helped me get my job as a dish washer. It provides me with money for bills and income," Graves said.
She isn't the only one who appreciates her independence. Kijon Ellis, the other award recipient, said supporting himself is the best part about his job.
"It means you can provide for yourself and others. I like to have my own stuff and my own things," Ellis said. "It feels good when you have that reward at the end."
Anthony Sims, the chief engineer for the hotel and Ellis' supervisor, said he was happy to have Ellis join the team.
"He shows up, he’s hard working, he’s determined, he’s dedicated." Sims said. For me that’s all you need to be excellent. As long as you’re there, you’ve done the hard part."
Job Point has been been linking people and jobs by providing career planning and job placement assistance since 1965, according to it's website. Its goal is to "prepare individuals to enter the workforce, while meeting a critical need of the business community."
Carrie Brown is the Job Point placement specialist who worked with Ellis when he first entered the program at 18 years old. She said the best part is seeing people with ambition and encouraging them to achieve their potential.
"The mission of Job Point is try to make sure that everybody has a fair shot at employment. That’s what we do at Job Point, we change lives dramatically," Brown said. "That’s why I work there. I get goose bumps just talking about it."
As gratifying it is for Job Point staff to help people looking for jobs, the people who make the hires are just as appreciative.
"Not only does it allow me to give back to a community that I came from, it just uplifts people," Sims said. "It allows people to do things that they couldn’t do without Job Point."