SCHOOL CLOSINGS AND DELAYS

Special needs McDonald’s employee wins community’s heart

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HUDSONVILLE, Mich. -- Scott Isenga is well known in the Hudsonville area, bringing people into McDonald’s in Hudsonville for a friendly welcome and a cheerful smile.

Scott Isenga extreme pride in his part-time job at the Hudsonville McDonald’s, where he has created a movement in the small community, opening people’s minds and hearts to those with special needs.

When you walk into the restaurant, you'll find the hustle and bustle of your typical fast food restaurant. But there’s something that sets this McDonald's apart from the rest. For the past eight years, 29-year-old Scott has transformed the dining area.

“I know I’m going to have an extra good day just by being here and talking with Scott," one customer said. “I know that when I get home, it’s going to make my day all the more wonderful.”

Scott works tirelessly every Monday, Friday and Sunday, making sure the place sparkles but never missing the opportunity to brighten someone’s day.

“He’s an icon here at McDonald’s,” another customer said. “Good friend to everybody, treats everybody good.”

The regulars are mostly retired and build their schedules around Scott's. They say Scott keeps them young. And they eagerly awaiti their morning sports update.
“He’s our information man,” another man said. "Any time we want to know anything, he pulls out his phone, and he’s got it right there."

But the customers, or as Scott calls them, “family,” are even more eager to share their life’s happenings with him.

With all the smiles he gives and days he brightens, for Scott this is much more than just a job. “I feel like I’m a regular person,” he said.

It’s the kindness the customers have shown him for nearly a decade that’s changed his life. “I just look forward, going to work,” Scott says.

It’s more than his parents Mike and Sandy dreamed of for their developmentally delayed son.

“The older he got, the more we noticed,” Sandy said. "Fine motor skills were very delayed. He walked really late."

But even then, Scott didn’t let his differences slow him down.

“He has kind of proved us wrong as far as a lot of things,” Sandy said. "They said he’d never read. He can read."

Scott’s greatest love is of sports, Michigan State basketball in particular, along with shooting some hoops himself.

“I like to do Special Olympics and meeting new people,” he said. “A lot of medals; too many to count.”

With his McDonald’s cheering squad excited to hear of his accomplishments,
Scott’s goal is to serve as an ambassador for those with special needs.“It shows them they can do it too,” he said. “They look up to me.”

He does it all while fighting the stigma of someone who might ignore or make fun of him for his differences.

“Special needs people have feelings like other people,” he said.

It's a task he has certainly accomplished at the Hudsonville McDonald’s. You can visit Scott Monday morning and Friday and Sunday nights.

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