December 9, 2023 | Black Hills Works Newsroom

Submitted by Brad Saathoff, CEO, Black Hills Works

Direct Support Professional Appreciation Week, celebrated last month, was a great time to pause and reflect on what you and your work really mean. It’s no secret that our society is in a period of great disruption as we work to come out of the two-and-a-half-year public health emergency.  In our community, we see so much struggle with getting enough people who are willing and able to do needed work in almost every sector that relies on an in-person workforce who meet very specific needs at very specific times. I am grateful for you and your dedication to the very important work Direct Support Professionals are relied upon to do.

Not only now, but certainly over these last two and half years, you have done so much work that is selfless and helped 600 people with developmental disabilities that we serve to not be left behind and to not be forgotten.  I want to express appreciation for the work that you have done while also navigating your and your family’s unique needs during this time. That has taken a lot of resiliency.

Because of you, people with developmental disabilities are living a life that is not in an institution. Because of you, people with developmental disabilities are working jobs that are good for them and good for others that need the fruits of their labor. Because of you people with developmental disabilities are keeping up with their physical and mental health care. Because of you people with developmental disabilities are participating in activities throughout the community. Because of you people with developmental disabilities are learning new skills to do more for themselves. Because of you people with developmental disabilities have a good reason to get up each day and experience the joys and fulfillment of life and the accomplishments we all want to achieve.

When I look at that, it is easy to recognize that all jobs are not equal.  There is no question that the work you do is among the very most needed and purposeful work in our community. I know I speak for the family members of those you support also because I hear it from them so often.

I hope you have enjoyed the things that our PartyWorks team has helped us plan to celebrate you this week. Without you, our community has a big hole in it. Thank you!

Brad Saathoff


Black Hills Works

October Volunteer Spotlight: Fantastic Framing Duo at the Suzie Cappa Art Center

December 9, 2023 | Black Hills Works Newsroom

The Suzie Cappa Art Center is very lucky to have volunteers Carla and Mary who have been helping to enhance the artwork here through framing. Both have been volunteering for the past few months and have made an incredible impact. Framing alone is a skilled art and Carla and Mary go above and beyond to make every piece really pop!

Many of the frames at Suzie Cappa Art Center have been generously donated by community members and sometimes need a bit of TLC. Through sanding, painting, gluing, and sometimes even completely rebuilding, Carla and Mary are able to bring those well-loved frames back to their original quality which is a perfect match for the art about to go into them.

Everyone at Suzie Cappa Art Center is so grateful for all of the time and effort these ladies put in – thank you, Carla and Mary!

#NDEAM: Codie Good Doing Good on the Job!

December 9, 2023 | Black Hills Works Newsroom

Submitted by Sydney Butzen, Employment Support Specialist

I met Codie in March of 2022. Codie had been working with Black Hills Works’ Employment Support Services department to find a job for quite a while before I joined BHW, but nothing seemed to stick.  I visited him at his apartment to talk about his employment interests. We discussed his last two jobs where he only worked for a few days or a few weeks, finding them too overwhelming for him. While I talked to Codie, I observed that his body language was very closed and almost sad. Codie wanted to work and make money, socialize and form relationships, but he was also worried about work being chaotic and coworkers or supervisors not understanding him and being unkind. I reassured Codie and we talked about our mutual love of video games and music.

It was easy to see Codie felt defeated and honestly, so was I for a few days after our meeting. He had tried so many different avenues in community employment but nothing seemed to work or fit him just right. What could we try differently to find him what he needed?

In talking with Michelle Kline, Director of Custodial Services, an opportunity presented itself for a group-supported site with the small janitorial crew for Rapid City Parks. Codie was excited to try it. This position was with the team that cleans public parks restrooms in our community. After a short situational interview with the supervisor, Codie decided this was the job he wanted and accepted the job offer. Though there were a few hiccups with getting started, Codie began working in mid-June.

Now, just a couple of months later, Codie really enjoys working and having money to spend, but even more than that he seems content and happy. Now, when you talk to Codie, he makes eye contact and easily engages in conversation with peers and staff. He is more confident and shows interest in activities more. He is close to his team lead, Jacki, and talks about how much he likes work, “even when it’s kinda gross.” Codie says, “I feel like my life has a purpose now.” We are all so proud of Codie for working so hard and growing so much over the last few months!

The Workplace — October 2022

December 9, 2023 | Black Hills Works Newsroom

View and download the October 2022 edition of The Workplace by clicking the image below. Octobers’s focus is Workforce Development.

Meet September’s Spotlight Award Winner… Manika Boehman Gehl!

December 9, 2023 | Black Hills Works Newsroom

Manika joined Black Hills Works five years ago. She currently lives at Lacrosse and has done quite well in learning how to manage apartment living. She takes care of her apartment, cooks, and manages all her own personal hygiene. She works hard and pays her bills when they are due, with some help from staff.

For more than three years, Manika has worked at Family Fare as a personal shopper and excels at her job. She has even advanced to being a cashier and knows her job well. She will pick up extra hours and is a team player.

Manika has overcome many barriers in her life and now has a good routine at Lacrosse. She has learned that honesty is the best policy and that it is okay to make mistakes. Through hard work and determination, Manika is living her best life.

Congratulations, Manika, and keep up the awesome work!


September Volunteer Spotlight: Chuck Henrie

December 9, 2023 | Black Hills Works Newsroom

Black Hills Works says goodbye to one of our most dedicated and long-term volunteers. Always eager to lend a hand, Chuck Henrie embodied the definition of a volunteer, a “person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.” He could be found at every Black Hills Works event, willing and happy to do his part.

Chuck’s volunteer time was not limited to Black Hills Works; he was also involved in our Rapid City community. An active member of the A-Team of the Black Hills, Chuck helped out at the Cracker Barrel meetings and was a steadfast advocate for himself and his peers. He was happy to share his thoughts and concerns, and knew the local politics better than anybody.

Thank you, Chuck, for sharing your time and love with all of us. Our world is a brighter place because of the light you shared. You will be missed.

Meet September’s Spotlight Award Winner… Jesse Murrow!

December 9, 2023 | Black Hills Works Newsroom

Jesse joined Black Hills Works in 2012 and has lived at Jake’s (Allen) since 2013. One of the things Jesse loves to do is watch the weather channel on his iPad or weather radio. He is always talking about the weather and helps with fire drills, which makes him so happy. He even reminds staff when fire drills are due!

For a time, Jesse struggled with taking off on his own, forcing staff to track him down and bring him back. Because of this, Jesse was given a timer so that he could still go outside (which he loves to do). He just had to check in with staff when the timer went off. Jesse excelled at this and no longer needs the timer to tell him to check-in.  Being a part of the fire drills has made an incredible difference in Jesse’s life. He has become more open with staff and loves to crack jokes and make everyone smile.

Congratulations, Jesse, and keep up the awesome work!


Travel for Work Required

December 9, 2023 | Black Hills Works Newsroom

Your donations help 289 valued employees with disabilities get to work! Government funding is extremely limited in supporting the cost of work-related transportation, whether it’s the vehicle, fuel, and maintenance, or public transportation costs.

Your contributions make work possible, and it’s a significant impact. In addition, a recent $15,000 United Way of the Black Hills grant, for example, is helping Nancy Weiss and nearly 40 others who rely on Dial-A-Ride to get to work. Nancy, an artist at the Suzie Cappa Art Center, is not able to drive and counts on Dial-A-Ride to get to the job she loves. Yet, after paying rent and with the rising cost of groceries, she has very little left over each month to pay for her bus pass and other necessities. United Way recognizes that by helping her and others get to work, they elevate their independence and productivity, benefitting our entire community.

You fill the gap where public transportation doesn’t go. Your contributions keep our fleet of 120 vehicles fueled and maintained so the people we support can get to work. This includes the 62 mission-critical employees that travel nearly 85,000 miles every year to support our troops at Ellsworth Air Force Base. You made this happen! Six vans and a team of drivers are available 21 hours a day, 365 days a year, going to and from the base. Community contributions, including support from Meade County Commissioners, help provide the transportation needs of these workers who supply and feed our troops and help keep their work and living spaces clean.

The dignity of work is a powerful thing! Your heartfelt gift of reliable transportation makes work possible for nearly 300 people with disabilities in our community. Thank you!

The Workplace — September 2022

December 9, 2023 | Black Hills Works Newsroom

View and download the September 2022 edition of The Workplace by clicking the image below. September’s focus is Transportation.

Meet September’s Spotlight Award Winner…Josie Kills Plenty!

December 9, 2023 | Black Hills Works Newsroom

Though Josie has only been with Black Hills Works for a little over a year, she has made tremendous strides! Josie entered into the Behavioral Health program in May 2021 from Redwood. Through her hard work and having a supportive environment, she graduated from that program in just a few months and has been a part of Community Homes for the last year.

Josie is employed with our janitorial crew and feels a great sense of pride in her work. She is an incredible artist and fills her days with creating art. She is thoughtful, kind, and cares about others. Alicia Dowling, Program Coordinator for Behavioral Health, shared, “I’m just so incredibly proud of Josie, not only for achieving graduation from Behavioral Health but for realizing her goals and getting through tremendous adversity!”

Congratulations, Josie, and keep up the awesome work!