TreeHouse Foods, DARTS named for awards

Large national food supplier and established nonprofit serving older adults provide work opportunities
for individuals based at ProAct’s facility in Eagan

Providing exemplary work opportunities for people with disabilities based at ProAct in Eagan, TreeHouse Foods and DARTS were named for the nonprofit’s annual awards. TreeHouse Foods, a large food supplier, is the 2018 Business Partner of the Year and DARTS, which serves older adults in and around Dakota County, is the 2018 New Employer Partner of the Year.

“These partners are wonderful examples who work closely with us to provide opportunities for the people we serve,” said ProAct President and CEO Steven Ditschler. “We are grateful for their role in enhancing the quality of life for people with disabilities.”

TreeHouse Foods has been a source of work for almost 180 ProAct participants in the past year, said ProAct Business Manager Mary McGeheran. She said predictability, reliability and longevity are hallmarks of TreeHouse. The nonprofit’s relationship with the food company spans more than 15 years.

“We set up a variety and number of production lines each afternoon to prepare for the following work day, and a sit-down line is used for those who are unable to stand, or who are in wheelchairs, McGeheran explains.

The manager said TreeHouse is “part of the ProAct family” and is an important asset. “They understand our capabilities and ProAct has an understanding of the demands to meet TreeHouse needs,” she said. Participants sort and box prepackaged granola bars and other items for eventual shipping to grocers and other retailers.

ProAct’s New Employer of the Year, DARTS, is based in West St. Paul and serves senior citizens in multiple ways. ProAct gets involved with housekeeping for DARTS at residences around Dakota County. Crews of five or six participants and two ProAct staff members perform the work.

Miss Minnesota USA pageant contestant Mikayla Holmgren

“It’s a win-win all around, one nonprofit working with, and for another,” said McGeheran. “Our missions align beautifully with one another in celebrating and supporting diversity, aging and inclusion.”

DARTS also holds training sessions, open house events and monthly meetings to build on the partnership. And, “meet and greet” gatherings bring both parties together to review specific needs for each residence, and to establish expectations for the work, McGeheran explains.

The business manager said the community and companionship experienced by senior citizens and ProAct participants has been priceless.

DARTS and TreeHouse were honored at ProAct’s Annual Recognition Banquet in Oakdale. A special address was given by model Mikayla Holmgren, who is thought to be the first person with Down syndrome in the nation to compete at the state level. Before participating in the Miss Minnesota Pageant, she represented Minnesota in the national Junior Miss Amazing pageant in Los Angeles.

ProAct, Inc. offers person-centered services that enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities. It is headquartered in Eagan and has additional operations in Red Wing, Shakopee, Zumbrota and in Hudson, Wis.