Should you visit the Applebee’s Restaurant on Woodbury Avenue in Portsmouth during the daytime there’s a good chance that you’ll be greeted at the door by Kristen Anderson. The 33-year-old hostess is on the job at Applebee’s 4 to 5 days a week during the lunch shift.

Andreson is also a member of Special Olympics New Hampshire’s Team Portsmouth. She currently participates in basketball and has previously participated in athletics events as well as bowling. She says that she’d like to do more with Special Olympics New Hampshire, she just needs to find the time.

Being a hostess at Applebee’s includes responsibility for keeping the entryway and lobby area neat and tidy at all times. On busy days Kristen watches for fingerprints left on lobby area windows by children and she also helps out with the table tablets. Applebee’s has a small tablet computer at every table used for games, menu information and paying checks via credit card. “Sometimes I help when the batteries need to be replaced,” says Anderson.

Kristen considers herself fortunate saying that she likes the food at Applebee’s, and she sticks to the healthier side of the menu noting “I like the salads.” Kristen also appreciates all that her managers at Applebee’s do for Special Olympics New Hampshire. Patrons in Portsmouth are greeted with a wall of Law Enforcement Torch Run icons that have been purchased by Applebee’s customers.

When not at work Kristen practices basketball with Team Portsmouth at the high school. She hooks rugs, mostly for family and friends, though she’s considering trying to sell one perhaps at a yard sale. She’s currently working on a rug with a Disney theme. Her favorite TV show is “The Good Doctor” on ABC.

Kristen lives with a roommate who helps with transportation. “I don’t drive, but I do use public transportation,” she says. She and her roommate occupy a house that once belonged to Kristen’s grandmother. The house in now owned by Kristen’s parents but she is quick to point out that she and her roommate both pay rent. Kristen says that in addition to rent she shares paying all other household bills and after a momentary pause, her face lights up, she smiles and proclaims, “I’m independent!”

Statistics show that a person with intellectual disabilities who has participated in Special Olympics is twice as likely to be employed as a person with intellectual disabilities who has not participated. Kristen exemplifies this data. She finds her employment at Applebee’s to be fulfilling and Applebee’s in Portsmouth has a great employee. Scott Clark is the General Manager in Portsmouth and he sums it up best: “Kristen began working here as a host at Applebee’s Grill and Bar of Portsmouth back in March. From the day she started she was one of our hardest working, most reliable team members. Almost any shift she works she can be seen all over the dining room greeting guests, helping our team clean tables and floors, and creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. All with a smile on her face.  We love having Kristen as a part of our Applebee’s team.”