COMMUNITY GEMS: Longtime McDonald’s employee serves as mentor to youth

Riverside resident Terri Weglage, middle, and her husband, Mike, second from right, with their children.

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Riverside resident Terri Weglage, middle, and her husband, Mike, second from right, with their children.

Terri Weglage knew what was important to her: Time.

That is why she left a full-time job – taking a pay cut and losing weeks of vacation – for one that offered her the flexibility she wanted just as her youngest son was entering high school. In 1999 she took a part-time job at a McDonald’s location at 2776 Colonel Glenn Highway across from Wright State University, and she hasn’t looked back.

The 62-year-old Riverside resident is a swing manager who works in the morning and leaves early enough in the afternoon to be at her second position, as varsity cheerleading coach at Stebbins High School. For Weglage, it is as much a hobby as a job.

“I really, really like working with these kids,” said Weglage, who nominated as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem.

Working with the young employees also is one of her favorite parts about McDonald’s. It is the first job for many of the teens, and she likes to watch as they grow and change. They learn lessons that they might not fully realize for many years, about patience, teamwork, communication and making a difference.

“That’s a skill and mindset they will carry and will resonate with them forever,” she said.

Weglage is energetic and has “a huge heart,” said Ken Roosa, director of operations for Scott Family McDonald’s, the franchise that includes the location where Weglage works.

When she directs her young co-workers to tasks, she makes sure they know why it needs to be done and how to make it right. She can “take care of people on both sides of the counter,” said Roosa, who has known Weglage for more than 20 years.

She loves to see and hear about their accomplishments outside of work, and they will come to personally share their news with her, Roosa said.

“She’s just as excited as they are,” he said.

When Weglage still had her previous full-time job, she told a friend about her wish for more flexibility. That friend happened to be a manager at the time of the McDonald’s where she now works. She decided that flexibility was more important than money, and the new job gave her the chance to do more. For example, she could decorate the locker room and provide team meals when her youngest son played football.

“I didn’t miss any sporting events, which was very important to me,” said Weglage, who has three adult children with her husband, Mark, as well as four grandchildren.

She also has helped the community in other ways, such as organizing blood drives, participating in an after-school program for middle school students and launching cheer camps.

“I do try to do what I can,” she said.

Weglage said she has been asked about taking on a full-time position at McDonald’s, but she likes having the time to coach, too. While Roosa said that is a loss for the restaurant, he applauded her ability to stay true to her standards.

“She sticks to her values and principles,” Roosa said.

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