General Manager of Mrs E's

“They take the job seriously and do a good job,” Mr. Maranell said of his employees with developmental disabilities.


General Manager of Mrs E's

When he started the job tryout in school, a paraprofessional helped Tyler learn the grocery store job. Now 23, he’s become a trusted full-time employee.



General Manager of Mrs E'sNow Mr. Riddle, who has Autism, mild Intellectual Disability and Schizophrenia, is working a 40-hour week, has health insurance through the company, a 401(k) savings plan, and profit sharing.


General Manager of Mrs E's


“I’m right in there with everybody else” could be said to be Colin Olenick’s life theme. “With a little bit of what I’d call ‘unorthodox help,’ I’ve been able to achieve much.”


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.


LaDena Hempken


LaDena Hempken works daily with severely disabled adults, many of whom have multiple disabilities and for the most part are non-verbal.. She said the job -- the first paying job she has held in 12 years -- gives a purpose to her life.


Tammy Carrell


“I always want to learn more,“ said Employment Specialist Tammy Carrell, who works for KETCH in Wichita.. “But a lot of stuff you learn along the way. Each client is a different person.”


Katherine Carpenter


It wasn’t until she went to Valeo Behavioral Health Care in Topeka that Katherine Carpenter’s life made a major change for the better. The culmination of the improvement: a job at Brighton Place, brought on by help provided by Ms. Carpenter’s Employment Support Specialists at Valeo.


Patty Waters


As a Job Coach, or Employment Consultant, she 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.


Maureen Harvey


The first step in the process of finding employment for people with disabilities assigned to the agency is getting to know the client and the client’s preferences for employment, said Tish Gutierrez, and Employment Specialist for Johnson County Developmental Supports.


Kristen Farley


Kristen Farley, Employment Specialist Supervisor at Valeo in Topeka, said one of the joys of the job is to watch clients who find work change for the better. "They become more outgoing," she said.

General Manager of Mrs E's

It was during many discussions about Angela’s future employment possibilities that they came up with the idea of raising calves.

 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.

Annie at WorkThere’s always an option. Sometimes it just takes brainstorming to find it.

For Annie Anschutz, snakes became that option, and a willing museum room manager in Annie’s hometown of Hays made the option possible, along with a caring special education teacher.

Annie, 22, who has severe autism, is a regular “holder” of snakes in the Discovery Room of the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays.

With her sister Crystal, Annie regularly goes to the museum and lets various non-venomous snakes slide up and down her arms and, to her giggly delight during an early May visit, temporarily underneath her sweatshirt and up her arm.

Discovery Room Manager Thea Havgen said the snake holding Annie does as a museum volunteer serves a purpose. She said the snakes, including a Great Plains Rat Snake named Buddy and the Milk Snake that made its way up Annie’s arm, need to be handled because they need to get used to the groups of children that visit the Discovery Room regularly.

“Stress is trying on animals in captivity,” Mrs. Havgen said. “Annie helps them get used to stress. She likes to call it snake exercise time. She tells us she’s letting the snakes work their muscles.

“Sometimes she even holds the mice and some days, when I’m far behind, Annie helps me put dishes away,” said Mrs. Havgen. .

The idea that Annie could become a snake holder at the museum originated during a brainstorming session when Annie’s mom and sister were involved in a Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities program called “Partners in Policymaking.” The program works to help people in the developmental disabilities community better advocate for people with developmental disabilities.

Annie’s mother, Evelina Moore, said the group was brainstorming possible work options for Annie and she had mentioned Annie’s love of bugs and snakes. They thought about trying to find a pet store that would be a job training possibility, but at the time there were no pet stores in Hays. Then they thought of the museum.

“Annie’s special education teacher kept calling the museum,” Mrs. Moore said. “She said she had a child who likes insects and snakes and Thea knew immediately it was Annie. She knew Annie because Annie had several classes at the Discovery Room.”

Special Education teacher Andrea Zody said she thought the possibility of Annie volunteering at the Sternberg was an excellent suggestion.

“We all knew how well Annie does with reptiles…with spiders and snakes,” Mrs. Zody said. “Annie prefers things to be calm. What she brings to reptiles, that’s what they need. It’s a good pairing.”

Mrs. Zody said she learned from Annie during her years with her as a student that some people use vision to communicate.

“Annie taught me valuable lessons,” she said. “She taught me to listen with my eyes, not always with my ears. Communication is paramount to her. Annie will not give up the idea or thought she wants to get across. And she has very cool things to share.”

While Mrs. Zody said Annie will probably not be able to communicate through typing on a computer, which she called very abstract, she does very well reacting to visual stimulus on that same computer. At school and at home, Annie uses a computer programmed with photographs and visual aides to communicate.

“She taught us that she is a very visual learner,” Mrs. Zody said.

Annie is well known in Hays.

Annie’s sister Crystal Anschutz, 26, currently is serving as Annie’s personal attendant. Crystal said she takes Annie to speech therapy a couple of times a week, to volunteer work at the museum, and on errands around town.

“Everywhere we go, we run into somebody who knows Annie, which is a good thing,” said Crystal. “Annie likes to go and see people.”

Crystal said she has put her college career on hold to work with Annie while their mother works and finishes the education classes she is taking. Crystal is paid part-time wages for the personal attendant work, although she works with Annie full-time. Crystal said she has always done respite work with Annie to give her mom a break.

Annie is on a waiting list for adult services through the state. She has been on the waiting list for adult services for years, her mother said. State budget shortfalls prevent much movement of people waiting for services to get those services.

With her family, Annie uses a mixture of sounds and special signs to communicate.

“Nobody understands it but us,” Crystal said of Annie’s sign language. “We call it ‘Anniesign.’”

At the museum, Mrs. Havgen said Annie regularly gets her picture taken with the snakes. That’s because school children on field trips to the museum often want a photograph of the snakes, but seldom want to hold the snake themselves. So Annie volunteers.

Mrs. Havgen said Annie was also instrumental in the recovery of a Bearded Dragon lizard they named Eddie. Eddie was in poor condition when he came to the museum, and Mrs. Havgen said Annie would spend a long time just holding him.

“She felt very sorry for Eddie,” Mrs. Havgen said. “Annie would just sit and hold him.

“Eventually, we found a home for Eddie,” Mrs. Havgen said.

Mrs. Zody said Annie is an example of what children with disabilities can bring to a job, whether in a paid position or as a volunteer.

“All of our students have something to bring to jobs,” she said. “They have something to contribute.”