The Iowa Job Honor Awards, a nonprofit working to increase employment opportunities for people with barriers including criminal convictions and disabilities, has announced its top honorees for 2019.
The awards were presented in partnership with the Iowa SHRM State Council (Society for Human Resource Management) at their annual statewide conference on Oct. 10 in Des Moines. Hundreds of human resource professionals from across the state were in attendance, as biographical videos recounted honoree efforts to win life-changing jobs.
One of this year’s success stories is Bob Finlay of Shenandoah. Born with developmental disabilities, Finlay worked on his family’s farm until an auger accident left him severely injured and depressed at age 26.
Local disability services agency Nishna Productions began working with him to develop job skills and regain a sense of purpose. After a few months in a sheltered workshop Finlay began work at The Depot, a popular Shenandoah restaurant. Thirty five years later Finlay remains there, washing dishes and cleaning and enjoying the friendship of co-workers and customers.
Finlay is a well-known and beloved figure in downtown Shenandoah, where he runs daily errands for the restaurant. Restaurant owner Bill Hillman describes him as an ideal employee. “He’d work all the time if you let him,” says Hillman, “I’d take Bob over any employee I’ve ever had. Everyone loves him.”
Two Iowa companies were recognized for their inclusive hiring practices. Templeton Rye in Templeton was honored for their commitment to hire Iowans with disabilities by working in partnership with disability services provider New Hope and Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services. “One of the issues we have is finding good part-time help,” says distillery manager Lester Brown, “They made it easy. They have great attitudes and they get the job done.”
David Mitchell, administrator of Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services, cites Templeton Rye as an example of successful partnerships occurring across the state. “We want to support not only the individual [person with disabilities] but the business to make sure the partnership results in a better bottom line and a value for both parties.”
For nearly 90 years, supermarket chain Hy-Vee, Inc. has made it their mission to serve customers with “a helpful smile in every aisle.” The company was honored for their commitment to build a workforce that reflects the community, including people with disabilities and people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Sailu Timbo, Hy-Vee’s Director of Diversity & Recruiting, says “We want our grocery stores to represent our communities ... Not only by carrying items that they like, but also in our workforce.”
Sponsors of the 2019 Iowa Job Honor Awards include ManpowerGroup, Central Iowa Works, United Way of Central Iowa and Frontier Co-op.
Launched in Iowa in 2014, the awards are expanding nationally under the banner of America’s Job Honor Awards.
About the Iowa Job Honor Awards:
The Iowa Job Honor Awards celebrates Iowans who overcome barriers to employment, and the employers who hire them. A subsidiary of America’s Job Honor Awards, IA-JHA’s mission is to promote employment opportunities for people with barriers including disabilities and criminal convictions. www.JobHonor.org.