Kelsey is just one of many examples that proves earning a paycheck can bring not only financial rewards but a genuine sense of self-worth, said Sarah Krom, community supports coordinator at Sunflower Diversified Services.
Sunflower, a non-profit agency, serves people with developmental disabilities and delays in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties. In addition, it contributes to the business community through its manufacturing plant, recycling operation and other ventures.
“Kelsey has become an essential part of our recycling business,” Krom said. “He participates in crew opportunities, operates the glass pulverizer and balers, and frequently helps out at our public drop-off facility.”
But that isn’t the whole story.
Kelsey has earned enough to buy a car and move into an apartment with a close friend. He also is attending Barton Community College and hopes to earn a welding certificate to pave the way for even more job opportunities.
“The steps Kelsey has taken to enjoy an independent lifestyle are directly related to his employment,” Krom noted. “He, like many others here at Sunflower, foster their personal independence while contributing to society. They also become consumers of local products and services, which we know keeps the economy churning.”
Approximately 55 Sunflower clients work at the agency’s manufacturing plant near the Great Bend Airport. Occupations include pallet and other types of assembly; mail processing; woodworking; janitorial duties; paper shredding; and recyclables processing.
The plant has contracts with almost 20 businesses and always encourages employers to learn about the services Sunflower provides.
“We have a ready and willing workforce that can start on production within a couple of days of securing a contract,” Krom explained. “Staff members oversee all aspects of the work and provide quality assurance before a customer receives a finished product.
“A contract with Sunflower also allows employers more options in scheduling,” Krom added. “For example, their valuable in-house employees can have more time to tend to other pressing duties.”
At Sunflower Recycling, more than 50 clients work in all phases of the job. These include customer service at the drop-off site, 5523 10th, as well as sorting, processing and paper shredding.
Since Sunflower understands that transportation is key to having a job, its General Public Transportation (GPT) system is the answer for many people.
“GPT provides rides to and from work for folks with no access to personal transportation,” Krom said. “It also offers rides to community locations where our clients spend the proceeds of their hard work.
“Those of us on staff are always gratified to know that a vast majority of clients choose to work and contribute when options are available,” Krom continued. “Every employee here loves the rewards that come with a real job. It brings a huge boost to their self-esteem that is immeasurable.”