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Larks Win You Make A Difference Award

The award is to honor them for consistently recognizing individuals’ unique abilities and providing work experience opportunities for those with disabilities.

“I want to thank all of our employees, especially those with disabilities, for helping make the ballpark the most FUN place in the summertime,” John Bollinger, Larks general manager said. “It was a privilege to work alongside such a fantastic team.”

As part of its National Disability Employment Awareness Month observance, the North Dakota Department of Human Services’ Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) recognized two businesses for supporting an inclusive workforce by hiring, training and inspiring people with disabilities to excel in the workforce.

The agency and State Rehabilitation Council presented the 2019 North Dakota State DVR Employer of the Year award to Cash Wise Foods of Minot and the You Make A Difference Award to the Bismarck Larks. Company representatives accepted the awards at a recognition luncheon hosted at the division’s annual training conference in Bismarck.

The statewide You Make a Difference Award honors a business for consistently recognizing individuals’ unique abilities, providing work experience opportunities for students with disabilities, and actively supporting, developing and inspiring students to achieve goals in a competitive and integrated employment setting.

The Bismarck Larks have collaborated with HIT and DVR to hire transition-age students and other individuals with disabilities who may have little to no work experience. The Larks organization matches employees’ interests and skills with positions to find a good fit, encourages employees to explore different roles while having fun, and works around students’ and families’ summer schedules.

“While we are beyond honored to accept this award,” Bollinger said, “the true praise and recognition goes to our amazing employees with disabilities who provided exceptional service to our fans and helped further the Larks mission of using FUN to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Acting DVR Division Director Robyn Throlson said, “Our agency is pleased to recognize this year’s business award recipients who are willing to work alongside the division and our agency partners to give individuals opportunities to apply, be interviewed and be hired for job openings based on their unique strengths and abilities.”

She said employers can meet their workforce needs by looking beyond a disability to an individual’s unique abilities, and the division can help them reach their employee recruitment and retention goals.

“Employees who receive vocational rehabilitation support often become long-term employees who are promoted within their respective workplaces,” said Throlson.

Rehabilitation counseling and consultation is available without charge to qualifying individuals and businesses, nonprofits and government agencies. Services for individuals with disabilities can include assistance with diagnosis and evaluation, vocational counseling and training to identify and reach employment goals, adaptive equipment and restorative services, vocational training and education, job placement and follow-up and other services.

Cash Wise was selected because they regularly work with the division and local disability service providers to hire, train and support individuals with disabilities so they can be successful at work.