2019 Employment Awards Banquet
The annual Employment Awards Banquet recognizes PossAbilities participants for their achievements in the workplace and the businesses that have partnered with PossAbilities to employ individuals with disabilities. The annual event takes place in October as part of National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month.
PossAbilities recognized their participants and 100 area businesses partnering with them to employ people with disabilities. The 24th annual Employment Awards Banquet was held Wednesday, October 2nd at the Rochester International Event Center.
“The excitement in the air is hard to miss,” explained Katie Mahaffey, PossAbilities Program Without Walls (PWoW) Program Director. “This 2021 was the largest crowd…It’s positive to see the participants supporting each other and the businesses supporting the participants.”
Four awards were handed out during the event. The John Ellingson Summit Award for a business PossAbilities works with, the Joseph Explorer Guide Award for a co-worker of a participant who’s gone above and beyond, and the Judy and Jim Sloan Explorer Award to two employment participants.
Following a meal provided by the event center and Powers Ventures, Jesse Schreiber spoke of his positive experience as a PossAbilities Follow Along participant, including the impact the organization has had on his life, and his goal of continuing to help his employer, Kwik Trip, grow and succeed. Kwik Trip also happened to be named this year’s Summit Award winner.
“Their managers take time to get to know the individuals they employ,” Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce President Kathleen Harrington said of Kwik Trip as she presented them the award. “They support a culture of fairness and one of inclusiveness.”
After giving thanks for the award, Kwik Trip District Leader Joe Stortz said “The last line of our mission statement is ‘to make a difference in someone’s life. I believe, through our retail helper program, we are able to accomplish this. We are honored to be a part of helping others in the community.”
The Joseph Fitzpatrick Guide Award was then presented to Tina Williams of Walmart. “She’s an advocate for individuals with disabilities and has been helpful to PossAbilities and participants we serve with whatever needs present themselves,” said PossAbilities Employment Services Division Director Joel Pralle, who presented the award.
The final two awards given out were the Explorer Awards. These awards are given to participants who have made significant positive strides, not only in their employment and time at PossAbilities, but in life in general.
After recognizing all of the nominees, Nathan Bell, PossAbilities Employment Services Program Coordinator, announced Aaron Reyes as the first winner. “He has a positive attitude, willingness to help, and his improvement is noticed by everyone at PossAbilities,” Bell said of Aaron. Aaron proceeded to tell the crowd he didn’t have a favorite job, he just loved them all.
For the final presentation of the day, Mahaffey invited Walmart’s Chad Bundy up to present. Bundy presented the award to Follow Along participant Chelsey Cummings, his friend and colleague at Walmart. “She is always willing to take on new challenges and she’s someone we can always trust.”
Chelsey later said she’s proud of her nine years and Walmart and always enjoys working with friends and learning new things.
This year’s Employment Awards Banquet was supported by 15 sponsors, including platinum sponsors United Heating and Cooling and Gail and Allen Bishop. A full list of sponsors can be found on the Employment Awards Banquet page.
A Night of PossAbilities
Join us for an evening of wine, roses and craft beer during PossAbilities largest fundraiser of the year! The evening includes, wine and craft beer tasting, appetizers and a sit down meal. In addition, there are plenty of opportunities to donate to PossAbilities including a live and silent auction, wall of wine, wall of craft beer and raffles.