EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - An Employee of the Month award means a lot to a local woman and her family because of what it took to achieve it.
When it's lunchtime at USI, hungry students head to Cyclone Salads, and behind the counter, Kendra Kirkwood fills their orders. Kendra enjoys the job. It's quite a change from how she started, as a shy dishwasher.
When she was little, Kendra's mom Angela wondered what kind of work her daughter would do. She and her husband Scott knew Kendra was behind, even as a baby. But at 23, despite being moderately mentally handicapped, Kendra is thriving.
Kendra's boss was so impressed with her work that she nominated her for an Employee of the Month honor through Sodexo.
"The customers themselves, they know her by name, when they come across the line they even ask for her at times," said Karen Johnson, Kendra's boss.
Kendra won that award and even got a special presentation this week.
The award means a lot to the Kirkwood family.
"I never thought that I'd see her get any kind of award. She has struggled for everything that she's gotten and as her family we see her struggle. You just, being on the outside, you don't realize how hard it is for kids with special needs to accomplish things and everything that they accomplish is just a huge step," said Angela Kirkwood.
Kendra already inspires her mom every day. Now maybe she'll inspire others, too.
Kendra's boss says she was chosen out of about 200 Sodexo employees at USI for that award. Now, she's up for an area regional Employee of the Month honor.