“Welcome to the Two. Welcome to the family.”
That’s the way Derek Hunter greets new jobseekers and their families. His message comes straight from the heart, and it’s delivered with a contagiously warm and enthusiastic smile.
From the moment you hear Derek speak about the Café and all things Two, you know that it’s a special place. It would have to be – considering it was inspired by such an incredible person.
When Derek was born with Down syndrome, his mom, Shari, wanted to make sure that diagnosis didn’t limit his life choices. The Café, Shops, Foundation, and Services that make up Two & Company is proof that it didn’t. Together, Derek and his family created their own path. Sharing that journey and creating opportunities for others was a natural next step.
Deciding on a name, which was “a really big memory” for Derek, and he can readily quote the Bible verse that inspired it. ‘Two are better than one, for if either of them falls, one can help the other up.’ -Ecclesiastes 4:9-10. His drawing even became the logo and ever since, he has a hand in every aspect of the Two, as he calls it.
In addition to working with his family every day, which he loves, he enjoys his time with the job seekers, “coaching them along and seeing them succeeding – and I get a chance to learn from them too.”
“You wake up each day knowing that these guys will put a huge smile on your face,” Derek says, and he knows exactly how to do the same for the job-seekers.
“How’s mom and dad? How was your weekend?” he asks, because making “guys and ladies” feel welcome and feel loved is part of his job. He lets them know that even if they are nervous, “they are not alone. We can go through it together.”
“It’s our job to work alongside them to help them learn and grow. I love to see their smiling faces. To see them blossoming. So, they can be who they want to be and who God wants them to be.”
When he’s not teaching, Derek chats about his wife, Lauren, about being a proud uncle and about his favorite Café menu choices – the noodle bowl, the BLTs and, of course, the breakfast grilled cheese. When the topic of sampling bakery items came up, he laughed and said he’s “well-rounded” when it comes to his cookie preferences.
Derek looks forward to the chance for Two & Company to grow and reach out to more people in the community. He even has a bit of advice for those who’ve yet to visit or learn about what the Two has to offer. “Come in! They will love the experience. We would love it too.”