13 August, 2014

The San Francisco 49er's & Levis Stadium

I haven't written here in a while; in general, I have reserved this blog for Samuel's surgery, a few political points, and general news. As Samuel is now 21 and growing as an adult, the time is ripe for another update. In this case, Samuel has landed a job as an expediter at the new 49er's stadium in Santa Clara, Levi's Stadium.

The job is working in the BNY Mellon West club at the stadium. He works the pizza / sandwich / crepe station and makes sure that food is queued up for folks to get as they so desire. The job pays better than minimum wage and was won on his own, with guidance from his school program.

Samuel graduated high school in 2011 with a certificate of completion and is now in a "post-senior" program that is run by the Santa Clara County Board of Education. The goal of the program is to help the students continue to mature, learn life skills that may help support their future life in the work force.

Samuel has had some jobs in this program via the "work-ability" segment; he has worked at Orchard Valley Coffee House, at the Larkspur Landing Hotel, and at PHP. All of these jobs have been up to a few hours per week total. These jobs have given him a taste of what "work" looks like and some skills that we are already seeing as an asset to his success in his new role at the stadium.

As part of the school program last spring, Samuel and some of his peers were encouraged to apply for jobs at Levi's Stadium. Let's be clear about this, the stadium, with guidance from the 49er's reached out to this population and in effect said, we want you, the differently-abled population,  here. Samuel had an initial interview shortly after his application that was done with others from his group there at his program. Then, in July, he was called in for an in-person interview. I took him to what was in effect, the cattle call to hire the masses needed to run the stadium concessions.

For his interview, I cut him loose. He went in on his own to interview with the folks from the concessionaire, Centerplate. After a bit, the gentleman who pulled him in for the interview came out, asked if someone was there with Samuel. We stepped outside so he could clarify a few answers that Samuel had given. Once I clarified the questions he had, he told me that Samuel interviewed very well and that he was going to offer Samuel the job. I told him wow, thank you for that. He said that Samuel earned it on his own and was a great candidate.

Samuel had to get his food handlers permit, some uniform components (pants, shoes, a haircut), and attend some training (for which he was paid - as you would expect). He worked his first event on August 2, the Earthquakes soccer game - the first ever sporting event at the stadium. Rowena and I were both curious how it would go; he might be overwhelmed by the long day (he started at about 1:30 PM for the 7:30 PM start time of the game and we picked him up at about 11:00 PM), or, he would be energized by the crowd. It was the later. He came into the car complaining about sore feet, but he had a huge smile on his face. The event was a winner for him.

We had previously enrolled Samuel to attend camp at Via West that would be the same date as the game; part of the terms of his employment at the stadium was that he would need to commit to all of the 49er's games as well as some additional sporting events that include a college bowl game (the San Francisco Bowl). Hence, we had to cancel his reservation to attend the "All-Star" camp week that ran over the date of the first event. But, we had a call from the Via West folks that a few former 49er's football players would be there on Sunday and could Samuel make it to meet them, since he could not be at the camp? We said yes, we would make that happen.

The head liner of the event was NFL hall of fame quarterback, Steve Young. He spoke to all of the campers around the amphitheater at the Via West camp in Cupertino. This is a camp that gives parents like us some down time, or respite. The campers do all kinds of stuff I'd love to do (swim, have camp fires, outings, ride horses...) and on occasions like this, are treated to some very cool folks. In his comments, Steve spoke about how everyone on a football team needs to work together, just like the campers needed to so that camp would work well. He then suggested that the same thing would be true at the new stadium. Steven then asked if anyone in the crowd worked at Levi's Stadium? Samuel of course stood up and said, "Ya, me!" Steve proceeded to ask Samuel his name, what he did at the stadium, and how long he had worked the night before. This was very cool recognition from a true football great.

Afterwards, Steve signed anything campers had with them and then took pictures with all of the campers and Samuel. Samuel was, obviously, thrilled to meet a sports star.

A couple of other former 49er's were there, Allan Kennedy, a two time Super Bowl champion and Dennis Brown, also a Super Bowl champion. Allan gave a nice talk to the campers like Steve did and along with Dennis Brown, signed things for the campers and gladly took pictures with everyone.

Photo Courtesy of Rowena Hinojosa
It was really impressive to see their combined Super Bowl rings together as well.

Samuel is set to work the first ever 49er's game at Levi's Stadium this coming Sunday. It will be an exciting day for everyone at the game. For Samuel, it's the next day in his first job. Thank you to Centerplate, Levi's Stadium, and the San Francisco 49er's organization who have of course, had to set the stage for the culture the stadium will have, a welcoming place to everyone in the community. They were recognized in the Mercury News today for this effort as well.