Glenn Award

(SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Chrestomathy job coach Tiffany Kepney, left, Unidine Supervisor Carol Lukanen, dining aide and server Jill Nieman and Minnetonka Councilmember Kissy Coakley participate in an award presentation at The Glenn Minnetonka. Nieman recognized Unidine as an Outstanding Disability Employer chosen by the Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation, MOHR.

The Glenn Minnetonka has been named an Outstanding Disability Employer by the Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation, MOHR, for its senior dining facility operated by Unidine Corporation.

The service was nominated by Chrestomathy, Inc., an Eden Prairie-based disability service provider which supports Unidine staff.

“Employers like Unidine at The Glenn Minnetonka tap into this great talent pool and give people with disabilities an opportunity,” said Julie Johnson, president of MOHR. “Organizations will be stronger if they hire these talented and dedicated people. They will quickly see the benefits of an inclusive workforce.”

MOHR represents more than 100 disability service providers across the state.

An employee supported by Chrestomathy, Jill Nieman, receives on-site job coaching supports for her role as a dining aide and server. Her hiring manager went out of her way to negotiate schedules with staff to create openings based on Nieman’s transportation, explained Kara Townsend, vocational director for Chrestomathy’s three locations. There were a few physical challenges to navigate, and the company helped her to complete her tasks with less struggle and more independence.

Unidine is a part of the Compass Group North America company, which has other service providers with which Chrestomathy has established a relationship, said Townsend. Nieman was previously supported by Chrestomathy in a dishwashing position at the Vikings Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center facility. Her change to The Glenn Minnetonka site offered more hours. Part of her duties involve serving meals to residents in the memory care areas of the facility.

Johnson said employers help people with disabilities to pursue their goals, earn decent wages and contribute to the economy as part of their communities. “Supporting people to live a community connected life is a large part of what MOHR providers do for the people they support.”

When changes prompted by COVID-19 arrived, Unidine was classified as an essential employer, as foodservice could not stop for the seniors at the facility. Personal protective equipment was provided, and managers showed kindness and compassion to staff, said Townsend, working with employees on their own safety needs. When COVID cases arose, staff were notified and Nieman was provided with some requested time off to maintain her health and emotional wellbeing, even though the risks were in another area of the building. “They have demonstrated great care in keeping the residents and their staff well and safe,” said Townsend.

Celebrated every October, this year’s theme for National Disability Employment Awareness Month is “Increasing Access and Opportunity.” It celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates about the value of a workforce inclusive of their skills and talents. The national observance began under a different name in 1945.

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