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Shares awards underscore achievements
Saturday, March 12, 2004
By JANUARY WETZEL
March may be national disability awareness month, but employees and staff at Shares Inc. came together Friday with community leaders to recognize ability, not disability, at the organization’s annual open house.
The company, which has provided vocational, educational and employment services to adults with special needs for nearly three decades, has played a major role in bringing new jobs to Shelby County, including positions with Ryobi and PK USA.
According to Shares Inc. Executive Director Cliff Strachman, Ryobi was a big success story for the community that had original ties to Shares.
“A lot of people don’t realize it, but the president of Ryobi was interested in coming to Shelby County because we have this facility,” Strachman said. “He has a daughter with special needs that was able to get the services she needed right here.”
The relationship between the company and the community, according to Strachman, continues to be a growing partnership.
“Without the support of local industry, we would not be able to run this facility,” he said. “But in return, we are able to provide those businesses with skilled workers who have great work ethics and positive attitudes.”
One such employee is Natalie Drake, who was awarded Community Employee of the Year. Drake currently works at Applebee’s, where she does everything from cleaning the restaurant and greeting customers to helping prepare food.
“Natalie is very independent, and many people have come to depend on her,” Strachman said. “She never misses work and has received compliments from Applebee’s corporate office. We are very proud of her, because she is a great role model for this community.”
For Drake and her family, Shares has been a very important part of everyday life. It has not only helped provide her with a steady income, but has given her the opportunity to make many new friends and has increased her self-esteem and confidence.
“I want to share this award with everyone,” she said. “Especially my manager, my co-workers and my family.”
Many members of the standing-room-only audience were there to accept awards, while others were in attendance to support their fellow co-workers and community members.
Arthur Spriggs, who serves as the executive director of SCUFFY, was excited to be able to fill the duties of master of ceremonies for the afternoon but was proud just to be a part of the event.
“Shares is a great place, and I’m so very happy to be here,” he said. “I just received a full tour of this facility not too long ago, and if you haven’t been here when things are hopping, I suggest you come visit.”
And greeting you at the front door more likely than not will be this year’s Spirit Award winner, Doug Baker. Coming to Shares right out of high school, he has continued to have a positive attitude in life.
“He doesn’t realize how happy he makes people,” Strachman said. “Everyone is his friend, and he’s willing to do anything that needs to be done.”
With a big smile and a thumbs up, Baker thanked the audience and had just one thing to say.
“I love you guys!”
Other awards went to P.K. USA for New Customer of the Year; Williams Industries for Customer of the Year; Roy Linke for Employee of the Year; Lori Moore for Quality in Industry Top Gun Award; Matt Wiley for Peer Helper of the Year; Steve Klapper, Linda McDaniel, Patty Rutledge and David McCabe for 25 years of service; Girls Inc. for Community Employer of the Year; Donald Strauser for Greatest Increase in Independence Award; Edelweiss Horse Center for Volunteer Site of the Year and Howard Hatton for Volunteer of the Year.
Copyright 2019 PKUSA Inc.