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Faces of Hope – Dedicated Service to Others Leads to a Thriving and Fulfilling Life

Faces of Hope – Dedicated Service to Others Leads to a Thriving and Fulfilling Life

Noah Keener is one smart cookie.  He lives his life with intention, service to his community, love for his family and his job. His zest for life is contagious and his smile lights up the room.  He is proving to the world that as a person with Autism it is possible to thrive and succeed in this world. To Noah, 26, there are two things that mean the most to him in his daily life: his work and his church. For the last eight years, Noah has worked for McAlister’s Deli, near the corner of Raceway and U.S. 36 in Avon. He started his position with McAlister’s through his work-study program while at Avon High School, but became a paid employee in May 2016. “He graduated on a Friday and started working the next Monday,” joked his mother, Jen Keener.  He has a very important role in preparing a treat that is loved by many. He packages the delicious cookies that tempt you at the cash register, but his talents don’t end there. He takes charge of other food prep tasks, such as portioning out chicken, helping set up certain catering items and even wrapping pickles, though he may drag out the process on that last item, as it is not his favorite by any means. He’ll do it though because he is a team player. “Noah loves his job here at McAlister’s and we love him too. He works hard and always does it with a smile,” said Deb Laucher, Catering Manager. He is always surprising people with this initiative while there. Once, when the restaurant was packed, he took the time to prep all the used dishes for washing while other employees were occupied serving customers and bussing tables. His actions were a welcome surprise to his managers. He really didn’t know what the big deal was. He was just doing what he does best, helping others. “Noah is a great person. He always makes it a point to shake my hand and say “hello” whenever he comes in for his shift. He says I have a great handshake,” said Hope Nichols, store manager, smilingly. 

Service to his faith community is the other outlet he has for serving his community and showing love for others. His greeting skills and style are like none other. Every Sunday at Traders Point Christian Church in Plainfield, you can find Noah warmly welcoming his fellow churchgoers like they are family. Though most members volunteer for greeting duty every other Sunday, Noah takes this job just as seriously as he does while at McAlister’s. “There is no “off” Sunday for Noah. If he’s there, he welcomes people into church. He is very dedicated to his position here and loves to say hello to everyone. Noah is an inspiration to all of us. My Sunday isn’t complete unless I have gotten a hello from him,” said Anissa Steinborn, Guest Experience Director.  It can be said that his service to others motivates him more than you can imagine. “Most Sundays he is dressed and ready to go by 7 a.m. even though we aren’t even leaving the house until 8:30. He’s always anxious and excited to get to church, always excited at the thought of who he will see there,” said his father, Ryan Keener.  He loves “saying hello to all the people” and he comes prepared with treats for those who hang out with him, though you never know if you’ll be that week’s recipient. He carries a pouch of Tootsie Pops with him at church and let me tell you, the word is out to all the kids that he’s got candy. He has a true giving and generous spirit, even sacrificing his treasured red and purple suckers, which are his favorites. He volunteers at both services and truth be told; it is hard to get him to leave the building. “He loves it so much and is so dedicated that he would probably be there from the

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