Valorie Johnson has spent the past few weeks pushing food onto plates, onto carts and finally into the garbage. She is a forward thinker, she said, and expects that this work will help her when she starts her new career - the Army.
An earnest young woman, Johnson decided in February that she would join the Army this fall, and found that through a special CETA program, she could make the most of the summer between high school graduation and her military career by signing up for a SPEDY program offered at a military base.
SPEDY, or Summer Program for Economically Disadvantaged Youth, offered her a job in July as a food service aide in Malcolm Grow Air Force Hospital at Andrews Air Force Base.
Johnson said she considers herself lucky to get the job, for not only is it "more work and better pay" than she is used to, it also gives her a first-hand look at military life.
"I wanted to go something (at Andrews) because I had hoped my experience would give me some rank when I go into the Army," Johnson said. "We do everything here, load trays for hospital patients, serve hospital employer and other patients on the food line, and, of course, clean up.
"I like to be around people, and everyone is so nice here."
She stresses that this is just a summer job for her, however.
"I don't want to do (food service) for a career," she said. "I'd rather get a medical job, maybe study psychology in the Army."
Johnson said she found out about the SPEDY program through a friend at school. She had been working at Farrell's Ice Cream store during the school year but needed a better paying job.
The 19-year-old Oxon Hill youth has nine brothers and sisters - most of them younger than herself - and a summer spent at home did not interest her.
"I have to work in the summer, I love to work. If I stayed at home, I'd get bored, I'd get fat," she said.
Johnson's father a mail truck, and her mother spends her time in a new house the Johnsons recently bought on Bonnie Meadow Lane. Only her oldest brother works.
She credits SPEDY with helping her and other friends and relatives in the program to get experience for other jobs.
"You know, if I didn't have this I'd still be at Farrell's, or at some other restaurant, or I'd be singing in a night club.
"But SPEDY, it's just an honest living, that is what it is."