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Building Relationships Through A Community Job
Success Stories
Community Integration
After 37+ years, Christina is 'part of the family' at Richard's Restaurant

If you drive along Bluffton's North Main Street on weekday mornings, chances are you’ve spotted Christina McFarren walking from her apartment to her job at Richard’s Restaurant.

Only the restaurant’s owners have worked there longer than Chris, who in May 2022 celebrated her 37th year on the job.

Deeda Yoder, Richard’s co-owner and vice president of the 11-restaurant chain, said: “

“Chris is great. She’s like family, shows up to work every day, and she does whatever we need her to do.”

Chris went to work at Richard’s on May 28, 1985, a week after graduating from high school. A family friend got her the application. She had a little bit of food-industry experience, in that she had worked in the school cafeteria in junior high and high school.

“I like earning money to pay for what I need,” she says. “I like doing dishes. And I get to meet all kinds of people, make friends and stuff.”

Her work schedule is 8:30 a.m. weekdays until however long she is needed after the lunch rush. She used to help with the salad bar, but that went by the wayside during covid. Now, in addition to washing dishes, she unloads the delivery trucks. “I make cornbread on Mondays,” she said, “which is when they serve ham and beans.”

Chris has been with Bi-County Services since 2011, after her mother died. “We used to live together,” she said. “Now I live by myself at Capri. My sister checks in on me and I have staff twice a week. They help me with my reading and math. When I got out of high school I was at a second-grade reading level. Now I’m at fourth-grade reading level. I’m proud that I’ve gotten better.”

Chris has many friends in the community, and she was allowed to invite several of them to an open house Richard's owners planned for her to mark her 37th anniversary at the restaurant. Some of the guests she knew from work, and some from First Baptist Church. “I’ve gone there my whole life,” she said. “I help with the children’s church, help them cut out things if they need help with the scissors. I play Go Fish with them.”

Her BCS Program Manager, Coralee Bowley, and her current Direct Support Professional, Wilma Penrod, also made it onto the guest list for the party.

One of Chris's longtime DSPs, Joyce Ivins, retired in October 2020 due to health issues and doesn't get out much, but they remain friends. Chris calls Joyce to check in every day, and they go to lunch occasionally.