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Rosewood Employment Network among leading programs in state
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Courtesy photo Mary Ann Minear stands at the front of Applebees Restaurant in Great Bend, ready to greet her first customers of the day. Minear has worked for Applebees for more than a decade, getting her start there with the help of Rosewood Employment Network.

Rosewood Services is leading the way in the state of Kansas for successfully placing people with disabilities into the area workforce. Utilizing two programs within the Rosewood Employment Network, nearly 70 people are now working or are in job-search mode within the program, which serves Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties.
Those programs are Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), administered by the Kansas Department for Children and Families, and Ticket To Work, offered by Social Security. People do not have to be clients of Rosewood Services in order to participate in Rosewood Employment Network. In fact, of the approximately 40 cases open in VR currently, Rosewood employment specialist Frankie Pelster said only six of them receive assistance from Rosewood Services.
“We’ve been very busy between work assessments and the extra care it takes to step people through our programs,” said Pelster, who administers the program along with assistant Jenna Curran. ”We provide a crucial service to people so we take the extra time and care to help them succeed. With their successes, we’ve increased our client load, as more people with disabilities seek a path to employment through Rosewood Employment Network.”
Rosewood’s VR Program has increased from nine referred client in 2015 to 37 in 2017. Of those, all but 10 cases were closed successfully in 2017, meaning the clients were gainfully employed for a 90-day period.
“Meaningful employment is such a valuable part of helping people with disabilities to find their greater purpose in life,” said Tammy Hammond, executive director and founder of Rosewood Services. “Rosewood Employment Network, along with DCF and area employers, have worked hard to ensure people with disabilities in our area have opportunity for independence and inclusion. Not every community can make that claim.”
Additionally, Rosewood moved its average wage up for VR clients from $7.77 in 2015 to $9.38 in 2017.
“We are pleased with the rise in successful cases,” said Dennis Ford, rehabilitation services manager for Kansas Department for Children and Families. “We especially like that with the increase in successful cases, Rosewood has increased the average wage for VR clients. Our state goal is $11.72, but the increase in average wage by Rosewood VR cases is significant and wage average continues to increase.”
In the Great Bend area there are four VR programs, but for Ticket To Work, Rosewood Employment Network is the only program located in the western half of the state. In the case of VR, Ford said Rosewood is one of the top performers in his west region.
“Quite simply, Rosewood is receiving more referrals because they are successful,” explained Ford. “If your success rate isn’t good, you won’t receive many referrals. It’s all about informed choice for the client. We present provider options and give counseling guidance to help in their selection.”
Once clients successfully complete VR through Rosewood Employment Network, they usually roll into Ticket To Work, explained Pelster. Ticket To Work serves people with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 64 who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. With Ticket To Work, Social Security allows people to keep their benefits for up to five years while they explore employment options and work toward earning a living through employment.
“The fact that we also have the Ticket To Work program is a huge bonus for our clients,” said Pelster. “Once most folks have successfully closed VR, rolling them into Ticket To Work helps them to feel better about their situation because they can have the continued support to maintain their employment. Ticket To Work allows us to continue our relationship with them to ensure their employment success.
Being able to help people find a purpose is a very beneficial and rewarding part of the job for me.”
Those who are interested in pursuing Rosewood’s Employment Network Program are encouraged to call 620-603-6539, or