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Guido’s Pizza in Grand Blanc and autistic employees feel blessed by each other

Mar 10, 2021

From the ABC12 News Story

By Ann Pierret
Published: Mar. 8, 2021 at 7:21 PM EST
GRAND BLANC, Mich. (WJRT) - Josh Wilson needed a job and Guido’s Pizza in Grand Blanc needed more help.

Watch the whole story here: https://www.abc12.com/2021/03/09/guidos-pizza-in-grand-blanc-and-autistic-employees-feel-blessed-by-each-other/

The opportunity is leaving an impact neither of them expected.

“Like I feel completely blessed. Like, I absolutely love this,” Wilson said.

He had a tough 2020 just like most everyone else. Because he’s immuno-compromised, the 20-year-old was terrified of the coronavirus, forcing him to stay in quarantine for most of the year.

But Wilson wanted a job as a means to make some money, so he got up the courage to apply at Guido’s Pizza in Grand Blanc.

“I was literally excited, like I finally got something to do after all this time,” he said.

Wilson said getting a job is a challenge that not many people believed he could take on. He was diagnosed with autism at 3-years-old and wasn’t even expected to talk.

“At first I didn’t think was possible. But now, here I am. Look at where I’ve gone,” he said.

That confidence is what his bosses, Jacqueline DeFrancesco and Doug Baldwin, hope all of their employees gain from their first job.

“Kind of quiet and tentative when he first started and now he just marches in and gets going,” Baldwin said.

Wilson works six days a week, helping close the restaurant in the evening and prepare it for the day shift. DeFrancesco and Baldwin say his attention to detail and willingness to help make him a strong employee.

“There’s so much that he’s got to deal with. But he does a great job with a smile every day. He’s focused, that’s what we want,” DeFrancesco said. “We can all aspire to be like him. Just do a good job and be pleasant and help each other out.”

With that in mind, DeFrancesco said it’s never mattered what so-called disability anybody brings with them. Wilson is actually one of three people they’ve hired who has autism.

“Don’t put those labels on people and don’t define that,” she said. “Just, he came in and we said, OK, let’s talk just like any other person who comes in for an interview. Let’s talk.”

It was a simple gesture they didn’t realize the gravity of.

“Today, this is not like when I was in high school where some people looked at me differently,” Wilson said. “Like today, times have changed differently. Guido’s has just become a symbol for the future of people like me.”

DeFrancesco said Guido’s is “truly blessed” to have Wilson on staff.

His mother took to Facebook, thanking Guido’s for giving her son and the two other employees with autism this opportunity. She is grateful that someone else could see her son’s potential.

About 100 people saw the Facebook post, prompting a spike in pizza sales over the weekend.

Wilson already spent a portion of his paycheck buying his big family lunch. Now he’s saving for a trip to England, when traveling is allowed again.

Copyright 2021 WJRT. All rights reserved.