The unsung community heroes
Published 8:59 am Saturday, March 17, 2018
By Roger Boughten
Unsung heroes are those who make a difference in the shadows of the community. They are those “special” heroes who make the non-profits hum, the charities flourish and the small businesses prosper.
You never read about them in the newspapers or see them on television but you benefit from their dedication to their work and their ability to make their contribution to the community and their neighbors lives a little better.
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Today I share with you the story of an organization and those who work at this special place as well as those who benefit. It is unusual in that it is both a supervised workplace for people with disabilities as well as a self -contained community of unsung heroes. Sometimes this special relationship acts as a catalyst for individuals to reach for their greatest potential whether staff or consumers.
They are linked by a common goal of working towards reaching their potential. This community provides support when needed and entertainment and celebration when challenges are met. This self-contained community of care givers and recipients today is known as Cedar Valley Services. It began more than 58 years ago when a small group of community members met and with the Mrs. Jaycees financial support donated the seed money to get the organization off the ground. Never did they envision what would happen over the years and what it would become today.
The Hormel Food Company stepped in at the beginning at this critical moment in time and offered some ancillary work to Cedar Valley Services. They saw the quality of work performed and the satisfaction it brought to individuals with disabilities. Today, fifty eight years later Cedar Valley continues to do a lot of subcontract services for Hormel.
You cannot go anywhere in the community without running into a service that is provided by Cedar Valley Services and their clients (consumers) and staff. The scope of the operation with its’ employees and clients increased over the years till now it includes; a food service operation at Riverland Community College serving two communities, janitorial services for the Austin Public Library and County Courthouse, laundry service for Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin and curbside pickup and processing of recyclables for the Mower County Recycling Center.
These are just a few of the examples where you will find both clients and staff out in the community. Individuals struggling with disabilities no longer sit on the side lines but are actively participating in a job and reaching towards their potential. No longer is there a disability stopping them from working and gaining self-respect from a job well done. This special self-contained community includes individuals with skills assisting adults with developmental disabilities, training of individuals of basic work skills and providing supervised residential services to enable individuals to reach their full potential for living in the community. Some of the clients have been working at Cedar Valley for 40 years while some staff have been at the site for 37 years.
Today, Cedar Valley Services employs over 210 clients and 76 support staff in Austin. It is a community that works well together and offers HOPE to individuals. It provides dignity to the individual and a sense of accomplishment to those in the community known as clients (consumers) and staff at Cedar Valley Services.
When you travel through Austin you might remember that the clients of Cedar Valley Services provide the janitorial services for but not just limited to; First farmers & Merchants Bank, the Austin Public Library, the Justice Center, Faith Church Evangelical Free, Austin Vet Clinic, Town Center, Accentra Credit Union, Village Cooperative, Methodist Free and the Cinemagic Theatres.
If you’re at Riverland Community College you’ll be well served by the clients and staff of Cedar Valley Services. If you happen to be hospitalized you’ll be served by Cedar Valley Laundry services or if you are an employee of the Hormel Institute their laundry is done by the clients and staff of Cedar Valley. A number of the beauty shops in the community also have their laundry done by Cedar Valley.
The unsung heroes in Austin are all of the employees and clients of Cedar Valley Services. No longer is a person just disabled. They are an individual reaching towards their potential along with a community partner that just happens to be Cedar Valley Services.
“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” — Tom Bodett