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VSI Honors Local, State and National Leaders

Members of the ARC of Clay and Platte Counties received the 2019 Benefactor’s Award during the Community Awards Night held June 20 by Vocational Services, Inc. President Terry Blanks (with microphone) noted the special place VSI has held since the organization’s founding. (Also see photo gallery below)

Northlanders with disabilities, volunteers, parents and community leaders were honored at the Vocational Services, Inc. Community Awards Night June 20. Nearly 300 people attended the event held in the View at Briarcliff in Kansas City, North.

The honorees recognized a wide range of Clay and Platte County residents, including those served by VSI, long-time supporters and businesses that help broaden employment opportunities. Also honored this year were state and national leaders whose efforts support and expand these and similar programs.

The first two honorees were Production Employee of the Year, Kiera Reinsch, and Supported Employment Consumer of the Year, James Taylor.

Reinsch has worked with VSI since 2011 and takes a lot of pride in her work, including her favorites, packaging Boulevard Beer and magazines. She has also mastered use of VSI’s shrink-wrap equipment.

Since 2004, Taylor has worked with HyVee through VSI’s Supported Employment Program. He is now a veteran member of the grocery’s kitchen and also helps with truck deliveries.

Retiring workers were also recognized, including 30-year veteran Robert Montgomery and JoAnn Heithoff, 18 years. Staff member Carolyn Hylton was recognized for many years of cheerful service in numerous areas, including VSI’s Show-Me Animal Products.

William “Bill” and Lois Welliver received the Parent/Guardian of the Year Award. The couple has volunteered in numerous areas for VSI and other organizations assisting people with disabilities. Bill Welliver has also served on VSI’s Board of Directors for nearly 20 years.

VSI also recognized companies they do business with through the annual Vendor of the Year Award. This year the honor was presented to Gerald Wicklund for Wicklund’s CARSTAR.

“Not only has this vendor assisted with our vehicle fleet with a top-notch quality service, but they have also provided VSI a number of opportunities to connect with other businesses so that we can continue to grow,” noted VSI Executive Director Randy Hylton.

A major portion of funding for VSI services is provided through its contract work for local businesses. One of those companies, MoJack Distributors, LLC, was honored with the 2019 Customer of the Year Award.

“Their company provides world-class Sporting supplies and products with an innovative edge,” Hylton noted. “They enthusiastically pursue never-ending improvements and have a commitment for customer satisfaction, as well as, a philosophy of exceptional business relationships.” Westin Everhart accepted the award for MoJack.

Two companies were recognized for hiring workers in VSI’s Community Integrated or “supported” employment program. McAlister’s Deli was recognized as the Clay County Employer of the Year and the Kansas City Airport Marriott, represented by Lori Hart, as Platte County Employer of the Year. Both were honored for their positive supports to provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

The 2019 Benefactor’s Award to ARC of Clay and Platte Counties for that organization’s continuous, hard work and dedicated support of programs for people with disabilities. Through its thrift stores, the 61-year-old volunteer organization provides much-needed funds that enrich the lives of intellectually and developmentally challenges residents in Clay and Platte counties. Terry and Evelyn Blanks accepted the award.

DJ and entertainer Cynthia Gassen received the Volunteer of the Year Award for her generous donation of time to enliven VSI parties and special events. She also serves on the VSI Board of Directors.

The Working for the Public Good Award was presented to Dan Gier, director of Extended Employment, Sheltered Workshops, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. In his work since 2011, Gier has used his knowledge of manufacturing, logistics, safety, management and a passion to serve others.

State Senator Lauren Arthur was honored as Legislator of the Year. Hylton noted that in her first term Arthur has championed a number of issues, including funding for early literacy programs, legislation to bring greater transparency to elections, to protect survivors of domestic abuse and assault, and to make the Missouri Department of Revenue accountable to taxpayers. She also recently sponsored child abuse prevention training with Synergy Services and hosts an annual food drive.

Terry Farmer, CEO of the national organization, ACCSES, received the Director’s Award. A long-time advocate for people with disabilities, Farmer has also worked to serve veterans and their families throughout the U.S.

Rusty Turner received the VSI Board Member of the Year. Owner of two businesses, Turner has spent years serving VSI through the board and as a volunteer at numerous events.

The Margaret Hylton Employee of the Year Award went to Vivian Hawthrone-Adams for her daily demonstration of VSI’s values and philosophy. “She is committed to our Mission and is dedicated to providing the best support possible to assist VSI in providing top-quality employment services for the individuals we serve,” Hylton said. “She has worked with VSI for more than 12 years providing the individuals we serve with consistency and dependability.”

The event marked 53rd year VSI has helped empower area residents with developmental disabilities. The evening began with a silent auction that helped raise funds for special services at VSI.




Nationally accredited and state certified, VSI has been providing employment and other services for people with disabilities for over 50 years – and serving the business community with on-demand, flexible services and programs.



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