“Try a cup of Karuba Gold – it’s really, REALLY good!” Kate suggested as she offered samples to shoppers at the Kwik Trip store in Caledonia.
Many of the customers gathered around her sample table were sold after just a few sips. Kate then showed the patrons where to locate this particular blend and reminded them that the flavor was on special every Monday.
This is only a fraction of what Kate accomplishes in a typical day on the job. From the moment she arrives at work and puts on an apron, she is busy making sure the coffee bar is fully stocked, prepping sandwiches for the lunch ahead, and a multitude of other tasks.
“Kate brings an incredible level of enthusiasm to everything she does,” explains Helen Olson, Kate’s coordinator at Woodland Industries.
No one would ever guess the challenges Kate has overcome, and continues to overcome, with the help of Woodland’s Supported Employment program.
A native Minnesotan from a large family, Kate was diagnosed at an early age with ADD, ADHD and mild intellectual disability. Before coming to ABC in 1998 she had problems staying focused on everyday tasks. Just being able to hold down a job in the community seemed like a dream too far.
“I don’t know what I would have done without ABC,” Kate says. “I hate to think – I might have been homeless, or in prison, even. My work and supervisors provide the structure I need to succeed every day.”
Shortly after arriving at ABC Kate began working at Kwik Trip, Inc., one of ABC’s partner employers. It was a match made in heaven and she has been there ever since.
“Kate is such an important part of our team. Her positive attitude is an inspiration to all of us.”
– Amy Dobrunze, Kwik Trip’s Assistant Store Leader
Kate clearly loves her job as much as her employer and co-workers love her. A recent homage to her employer, entitled “Kwik Trip – Better than the Best,” was selected as one of the winning entries in an art contest held by ABC.
Life outside of the confines of her structured work environment can sometimes still be challenging for Kate. This hasn’t stopped her from obtaining a Culinary Specialist certificate from Western Wisconsin Technical College and moving into an ABLE home – once unimaginable accomplishments she credits to the focus she learned from her time at ABC.
And that’s not all. When she’s not working at Kwik Trip, she volunteers for a number of area charities, including La Crescent Animal Rescue, and participates in local walks to fight breast cancer. She regularly puts her culinary degree to work as a volunteer cook for her church.
“When I started out I thought the ABC staff was too tough,” Kate recalled. I now see why. I never could have done the things I have without their help,” she added.