The Kansas Department of Commerce and the Older Worker Task Force hosted the 16th annual Older Worker and Employers Awards ceremony yesterday at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. Six individuals, one business and seven organizations that serve or employ older workers were recognized at the event.
“It was a privilege meeting these great Kansas workers and representatives from organizations that serve them,” Kansas Commerce Secretary Pat George said. “The work ethic and experience of these workers is prized by businesses, and it’s terrific that we get to honor them. Of the many great older workers in Kansas, today’s honorees stood out for their amazing contributions to their employers, communities and our economy.”
The Older Worker Awards ceremony honors older workers who continue to play a very important role in the Kansas workforce and economy, as well as their employers. Honorees were selected from a pool of nominees that included workers age 55 and older, employed in both public and private sector jobs, and businesses and companies that regularly employ workers age 55 and older.
The following individuals and business received awards:
• Kansas Outstanding Older Worker: Joanne Supernois of Newton received this award, which recognizes an older worker who demonstrates outstanding qualities of leadership, dedication and commitment. In addition to working multiple jobs, Ms. Supernois, 66, is a wife, mother and grandmother, actively volunteers in her community and provides her perspective to both other older workers and young adults by teaching computer and office skills.
• Oldest Worker: Glenn Mauch of Dodge City received this award as the oldest worker nominated this year. Mr. Mauch is 95 years old and works for Lopp Motors in Dodge City. He has worked for more than 70 years, and also raised three children with his wife.
• Employer of the Older Worker: Ray’s Apple Market won this award, which recognizes a business that emphasizes hiring older workers and creating an excellent work environment for them. With stores in several Kansas communities, Ray’s Apple Market is a multi-generational, family-owned business. The company continually demonstrates respect for its older workers and appreciates the tremendous value that they add to the business.
• Exemplary Older Worker: Olivia Boydstun of Spring Hill received this award, which recognizes older workers who demonstrate exemplary qualities of leadership, dedication and commitment. At 71, she has worked at RR Donnelley for more than 20 years and plans to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
• Exemplary Older Worker: Harold “Dusty” Rhodes of Winfield received this award, which recognizes older workers who demonstrate exemplary qualities of leadership, dedication and commitment. Mr. Rhodes, 89, works two jobs. He has taken many career paths, including serving in the military, and plans to continue working.
• Outstanding Older Kansans Employment Program Participant: Olga “Lola” Richert of Wells received this award for her participation in the Older Kansans Employment Program. Ms. Richert, who is 77, made her most recent career move in January of this year when she joined G.L. Huyett in Minneapolis, Kan.
• Outstanding Senior Community Service Employment Program Participant: Joe McCullough of Wichita received this award, which recognizes an older worker who works in a community service position. After retiring following a long career, Mr. McCullough, 82, decided to reenter the workforce and now works at the La Familia Senior Community Center.
In addition to these awards, several other organizations were recognized. All five of the Older Kansans Employment Program providers were commended for their excellent service to older workers. These providers served nearly 3,000 older workers across four areas of the state. The support and training provided by these organizations resulted in 1,421 citizens learning new skills and securing jobs to meet their needs.
This year, the Senior Community Service Employment Program located in Wichita and provided by the Workforce Alliance has been noted by the U.S. Department of Labor federal project officer as the highest rated program of its kind in the Midwest region and one of the best in the country, based on performance.