A Heart For Hutchinson | City Beverage
When you walk through the warehouse at City Beverage, it's easy to forget where you are. The floors shine, dirt is non-existent and everything is meticulously clean - something that Tamara Ackors takes a lot of pride in. Nine years ago, with the help of TECH, Tamara started her career with City Beverage, working alongside Larry Rump, her supervisor, every day. "I was nervous because I hadn't worked before and this was my first job ever but everyone made me feel welcome," says Tamara.
Tamara works six hours a day and is responsible for sweeping and scrubbing the warehouse floors, stocking the vending machines, cleaning bathrooms and other small jobs as assigned. She said this job has been a good fit for her because of the people she works with. Tamara has a daughter with a kidney condition and she knew she wanted to work but also needed the flexibility to care for her daughter. Larry, as well as Bob and Ann Bush, owners of City Beverage, are very supportive of Tamara and helping her to succeed at this position. "With Tamara, I know it's going to get done and get done right," says Larry. "Tamara has been a great employee and a great asset to City Beverage. We constantly get a lot of compliments on how clean the warehouse is."
Tamara hopes to be at City Beverage for many years to come and looks forward to continuing to be a part of their dedicated team. "Working here makes me feel good - I can provide for my daughter and help my family members. I feel productive," says Ackors.
A Heart for Hutchinson
The relationship between City Beverage and TECH started long before Main Street Hops for TECH and Tamara's employment. City Beverage and TECH's Work Center location were directly across the street from each other and from time to time, TECH clients would be visitors of their worksite due to fire drills. In 2010, TECH reached out to Bob and Ann Bush, owners of City Beverage, to see if they would be interested in participating in TECH's Employment program. Bob said it was a learning experience for everyone. They had another client prior to Tamara but it wasn't a good fit for their skill sets. Tamara had the personality and skills that we needed. "It's a blessing what she does. She's very friendly, talks to everybody. Our operation is better because she is here," says Bob.
Before Tamara was hired on at City Beverage, she had to go through the interview process. "Monica, with TECH, coached her on interviewing, appearance, interpersonal skills as well as things such as how to ask for time off," says Ann Bush. When Tamara started at City Beverage, there was someone there every day to help her as she got started and continually came back to check in and was available as a resource. Ann says, "For any business out there that may be reluctant or hesitant to hire someone with a developmental disability, TECH offered on the job training and was a resource when we needed to re-train or address issues. It has been a great experience for us."
A History of Philanthropy
Bob and Ann Bush returned to Hutchinson to take join the family business in 1997. Ann's dad, John Stephens, was on the TECH board in the early days of the organization and had a heart for the mission of TECH. "What's unique about TECH is how integrated they are in the community. They work really hard to help get their clients involved in the community," says Ann. Bob went on to say "They are a very professional organization. I see them provide very professional services to people with disabilities with a personable experience for the client." Throughout the years, City Beverage has supported various fundraising events with auction item donations but in 2006, they expanded their involvement. "TECH reached out to us about the concept of a walkabout event. We worked together to customize, change and grow Main Street Hops, which just wrapped up its eleventh event this year. We have worked together to build the brand and the fundraising dollars because we care about it. We are all in." said Bob.
For an organization that is deeply connected to the community and constantly giving back, you sometimes wonder how they decide where to direct their efforts. "You can't do everything. There are a lot of community needs. For us, we had to figure out how we could make a difference, does their mission statement align with our personal beliefs and connect with our personal values," says Ann. She went on to say, "The key is to figure out what it is you personally value and then find organizations that match so you can give and give happily." Bob and Ann support Leadership Reno County, they have served on numerous boards within the community, and are continually giving back through small and large donations to area non-profits. Oh, and did we mention, Bob also serves in community government as a Reno County Commissioner and was the former Mayor of Hutchinson and City Council member. "As you're trying to figure out what you want to support, test the waters. Learn about the leadership of the organization, go to some of the organization's events, read their mission statement - does it align?" says Bob.
Giving back doesn't just stop with Bob and Ann. They have created a family culture within their organization and encourage their employees to be involved in the community through Leadership Reno County and by participating in fundraising events. Bob said, "We're very committed to helping others. As leaders in our organization, we value that and bring it to the table. If we give a donation to a non-profit, it's because of our sales and the work that our team did to make that happen. We want to be a positive partner in the community."