Did your company throw you a holiday party this year? Did it come with a buffet spread, a bunch of awards, a photo booth and boogying on a dance floor?
That’s what the employees of JobOne were treated to Sunday afternoon at the Pavilion at John Knox Village in Lee’s Summit. JobOne is a nonprofit that runs three sheltered workshops, a recycling center and a document-shredding operation in the Kansas City area.
Its workers: about 275 people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
Even Santa and Mrs. Claus — he looking a bit skinny, she with long brown hair — turned out for the annual Shining Stars event.
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“We really want to shine a spotlight on the people we employ because we feel they bring a lot of value to JobOne and to the community,” CEO Aaron Martin said.
About 600 attended, including employees’ family, friends and care providers.
The event looked to be part prom, part awards banquet and part graduation ceremony. Several employees were honored for their contributions, and afterward they posed not just for official pictures but also the cameras and cellphones of family members.
As the dancing got underway — first tune: Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” — the wood floor in front of the stage filled up. A guy in a suit and dressy hat walked around smiling. A young woman cradling a monkey doll in her arms danced with a young man. Another young woman slow danced with her partner, her arms around his neck.
“I would say they have more fun (on the dance floor) than a lot of people. And they know their songs,” said caregiver Sandy VanEaton, who accompanied a 55-year-old JobOne worker and a 56-year-old, who’s retired after working at a sheltered workshop.
Earlier, as guests enjoyed brisket, baked beans and cheesy potatoes, Russ Honley of Blue Springs said daughter Mary Beth, 28, was there “to see some of her peeps” and party.
Her workplace, JobOne in Blue Springs, “looks like any other,” he said. “It’s just amazing what they can accomplish with limited capabilities.”
Mary Beth Honley, as it turned out, was one of four JobOne workers named employees of the year. Others were honored for their consistency or for showing greatest improvement over the last year.
At another table, Kenny McIntosh, 28, of Independence, was asked what he was looking forward to.
“Christmas!” he said.
And maybe some dancing?
“Uh, no,” he said, looking over at caregiver Tommy Slape, who reported that McIntosh was actually planning to dance with his new girlfriend, a co-worker.
McIntosh lives in an independent supported living home. Slape is on hand “if something comes up” or if a resident needs a ride.
Fox 4 anchor Phil Witt, who emceed the event, told the crowd he’d once met Alex Haley, author of “Roots,” whose mantra was to “find the good and praise it.”
“Well, JobOne family, that’s what we’re doing here this afternoon.”
Volunteers, family members, staff, sponsors and business customers all got their share of applause.
Locally based nonprofit Unbound is a new JobOne customer. “We connect people in different parts of the world,” said Martin Kraus, Unbound’s chief financial officer.
That connecting includes thousands of pieces of mail such as letters, photos and Christmas cards. JobOne employees quickly and efficiently handle the assembling of those pieces, Kraus told the gathering.
“We couldn’t do what we do without the help that you provide to us.”