Former Econo Foods supermarkets now under Family Fare name have worked extensively to provide opportunities to people with disabilities

ProAct’s 2018 Employer of the Year for its Red Wing location, SpartanNash, has worked with dozens of individuals with disabilities, serving as a work assessment site and hiring individuals who receive support from the established disability nonprofit.

“The biggest thing is communication,” said ProAct Designated Coordinator and Employment Specialist Sam Kapala.  “They are highly versatile in employing several of our individuals and have been very accommodating.”

ProAct participants stock shelves, collect carts, clean, face shelves and do other functions with merchandise, Kapala explains. In addition to hiring individuals, SpartanNash also allows ProAct to perform work assessments or job tryouts in its stores. These experiences help people with disabilities to explore their skillsets and preferences to better determine the types of jobs they would like to pursue.

“We encourage people to do their best,” said Stacy Bishop, customer service manager with Family Fare.  She said people from ProAct are proud when they do a good job, and supervisors often thank them for their help.

Kapala stays in contact with store managers, she said, and ProAct job coaches often stop in to see how the work is going. “They work as a team, and the (job) coaches keep them organized,” said Bishop. The relationship with ProAct spans more than a decade, with some employees staying on staff with a store for years.

ProAct presented its Employer of the Year award to SpartanNash at its annual Recognition Banquet in early October.  It draws more than 400 participants, their families and staff to Treasure Island Resort and Casino for a night of food, awards and dancing.

ProAct, Inc. offers person-centered services that enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities. In addition to a significant operation in the Red Wing industrial park, the nonprofit provides services from its Eagan headquarters and from additional locations in Shakopee, Zumbrota, and in Hudson, Wis.