By Christina Calloway
PNT senior writer
Candace Ramos and LaShay Duran experienced quite a change last month, from working the grill at McDonald’s to chasing around a group of rambunctious children at the New Mexico Baptist Children’s Home.
Ramos and Duran are part of a community outreach program set up by McDonald’s owners John and Robyn Snowberger while the restaurant is being remodeled this summer.
In all, six employees took the Snowbergers’ offer to stay on the payroll in exchange for doing volunteer work with area organizations and government entities.
Other employees were offered work at the Snowbergers’ three McDonald’s restaurants in Clovis.
“That was my first restaurant I owned and Portales has been so good to me, this is my opportunity to give back,” said John Snowberger. “I’m also trying to keep my employees paid. They can’t take off for three months. This is a win-win.”
John Snowberger says while they build their new restaurant from scratch, which is expected to reopen at the end of August, he and his wife identified four areas where the community can benefit from volunteers, including the children’s home, the Portales Recreation Center, the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office and Eastern New Mexico University.
“They wanted us to stay with McDonald’s, they wanted us to help the community,” Ramos said.
Ramos and Duran plan activities at the children’s home and give house parents a much-needed break in the day, according to Randy Rankin, the home’s director.
Recent Portales High School grads, Ramos and Duran are saving money to attend Clovis Community College in the fall, but they said the experience far outweighs the pay.
“Being with these kids, they have a story behind them that a lot of people don’t understand, and they need people to love them,” Duran said. “I like knowing that we’re a part of that experience.”
Rankin said Duran and Ramos have been a blessing to their children’s home family.
“I’m just thrilled that business people in our community care for their employees by giving them a chance to have a valuable experience,” Rankin said. “We really do appreciate what they’ve done. It is a great testimony of what they believe in and I’m just so thankful.”
Jodi Kibbe, director of the Portales Recreation Center, said the two McDonald’s employees she has brought on are also helpful during one of their busiest times of year.
“I think it’s great on both parts, for them and the community,” Kibbe said. “They’re definitely helping out. We have arts and crafts, sports, girl scouts … it really helps to have more than one person leading a group. The rec and everyone is very grateful that they’re willing to send out volunteers and we’re happy to have them here at the rec center.”
Robyn Snowberger said the new restaurant will be open 24 hours for drive-thru service and the dining area. She says while they recreate their restaurant to stay up with modern technology, she’s glad they can keep what she considers a great staff.
“It was very hard for us to close the doors but for us it’s really giving back to the people who support us,” she said. “That’s truly what it’s all about and we’re proud of our team.”