‘He is an amazing young man’

Flourish of Cullman’s Luke Haynes celebrates three years of employment at S&S Foods

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Luke Hayes celebrated three years of employment at S&S Foods in Holly Pond on Sept. 10. He is pictured with Abby Estes, owner of S&S (photo by Melissa Dew) 

HOLLY POND, Ala. – Luke Haynes always dreamed of having a job and being able to help people. Five years ago, when Flourish of Cullman began its mission “to help individuals with disabilities to live, work and play independently with a circle of support,” Luke jumped at the chance to participate. Recently, Luke celebrated his third anniversary of employment at S&S Foods in Holly Pond and he is still loving every minute.  

Though Luke enjoys stocking the shelves and tidying the grocery store, he said his favorite thing is “keeping the items straight on the shelves and helping people to find what they are looking for.” It drives him a little crazy to come in after a day off and find the shelves messy or items out of order.  

Having money to buy new video games is something he also enjoys, and he thanks Flourish for helping him and others to see his abilities and potential. As he continues to build his job skills, he hopes to have the opportunity in the near future to do some baking in the store’s bakery and to help customers to their cars to load their groceries.  

Perhaps Luke’s biggest goal is to obtain his driver’s license so he can drive to work. Currently, his little sister drops him off at work and she has recently joined the S&S team as well. “I like working with my sister. She works at the cash register,” Luke explained.  

Flourish Executive Director Melissa Dew added, “Luke has a very supportive family. Mom and dad are very supportive of him being as independent as possible. Sister really helps out a lot too.” 

Beyond getting his license and working at the store, Luke seems content where he is, but knows the skills he has learned thus far could be a step toward a future career. If so, Luke wants that career to center around helping others.  

Flourish of Cullman has helped Luke and others 16 and older to transition from school to adult life. Luke said, “Flourish is where they tell me how to make friends and to be good to each other. We also play games, mostly board games.” Luke understands that he could be seen as a role model by others and works hard to be a positive influence, especially on his friends at Flourish.  

Dew explained, “Luke is a great guy. Very kind soul and he has what we see as the ‘want to.’ He wants to work. He wants to live as independently as possible. That’s why we are so proud of him and so is everybody else.”  

Is Luke proud of himself? “Yes ma’am,” he replied softly.  

“He is the picture of pure sweetness. Pure sweetness!” Dew said of Luke. “He is an amazing young man. He’s got dreams and he’s still trying to figure all that out.” 

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Christy Perry

christy@cullmantribune.com