Search

 


General Manager of Mrs E's

 

As a Job Coach, or Employment Consultant, Mary finds employment for persons with developmental disabilities -- some with severe physical and mental limitations -- and then trains the newly-hired employees until they master the job.

 


General Manager of Mrs E's

 

Tony Schwager, who teaches shop at Baldwin High School, said the long term goal of Anthony’s Beehive is financial independence for his son.


General Manager of Mrs E's

Ray and Janet Steffy are big believers in working with the community that surrounds their son to find what he can do and what he wants to do.


General Manager of Mrs E's

“Circle of Friends” has been key to Justin White’s tremendous growth over the last couple of years.

 


General Manager of Mrs E's

 

Now 21, David works full-time as a medication aide in a senior center, has his own apartment, car, and computer, and plans to gain additional education to continue a career in health care.


 

 

 

 

Employment1st.org is funded by the Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities (KCDD). Design by Lawson Phillips Associates. Stories by Tim Hoyt. Photography by Lawson Phillips. Publication design by Arthur McCash and Lawson Phillips.

Angela WorkingThe first group of calves was named after candy, like "Dark Chocolate." Then country music held sway, thus the twin calves "Tex" and "Ritter."

Angela Klaassen gives each of the calves in the pens on her parents' "Swinging K" farm just outside Hillsboro a name and that name goes on an ear tag. Since the spring of 2008, she has raised over 50 calves, feeding them from three days old until they reach 400 to 600 pounds months later and go to the sale barn. During the first five weeks, she feeds the calves milk replacement she mixes into bottles, then gradually the calves move off of the milk and are given cattle feed.

Angela, now 21, feeds the Brown Swiss and Holstein calves twice a day, in rain, snow, ice or mud. She also feeds the other farm animals, including horses, a donkey, goats, dogs, and barn cats. .

One of the ramifications of Angela Klaassen’s diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome, a high spectrum form of Autism, and a seizure disorder, includes her dislike of large groups of people in enclosed spaces. Combine that with her strong love of animals and the outdoors resulted in the business idea.

Angela’s mother, Janell Klaassen, said it was during Angela’s Individual Education Plan sessions when Angela was still at Hillsboro High School that they decided to contact a social worker to help devise an employment plan. It was during many discussions about Angela’s future employment possibilities that they came up with the idea of raising calves. They applied for and won a grant from the Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities for start-up costs such as fencing and pens for the calves.

Kristi Berning, a social worker with Total Success Services in Newton, was involved with the Klaassens in setting up the project. She said it came about because it fit what Angela liked to do.

“She loves to be outside and really likes working with animals,” Ms. Berning said. “She’s devoted to it. She just needs a little coaching sometimes to stay on track.”

Angela’s mother echoed this assessment. She said Angela needs reminding at times concerning the right milk replacement mix, but that she stays on the job, sometimes taking her boom box outside to hang around with the calves and horses.

“She has some kind of bond with animals,” said Mrs. Klaassen. “She talks to them every day. Especially the horses. She has to have a kiss from them every day. And it’s the same with the calves. She lowers herself to their level. It’s something she has a knack for.”

According to her father Milford, Angela had to learn how to deal safely with the calves, especially as the calves grew. He pointed out that calves tend to push against you to get at the milk, just like they would a mother cow to get milk.

“She got some pretty good bruises,” he said.

Mr. Klaassen, who runs a mowing business and drives a school bus, said he oversees the work with the calves, but Angela does a lot of the work. They worked together to put up the pens and fencing.

“We do a lot of it together,” he said. “This winter…it was a tough winter and sometimes it was hard to go out.”

But he said Angela kept at it.

“I’m really proud of her,” he said.

Mr. Klaassen said the business pays for itself, but so far has not been a big moneymaker. Profits depend largely on the sale price for the calves, both after they are fattened up and when they are first purchased.

Mr. Klaassen joked that the only trouble he’s had with Angela is when he told her to go do some chores with the calves.

“She said ‘No dad, you do it. I’m the owner.’”