Lyon Co. Environmental Services receives award
MARSHALL — Lyon County’s recycling programs for mattresses and other items haven’t only been about keeping recyclable materials out of the regional landfill. Over the past several years, the county has also worked with a local nonprofit to employ people with disabilities at the recycling sites.
Now, that partnership has received statewide recognition.
This fall, the Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation (MOHR) named Lyon County Environmental Services as one of its 2022 Outstanding Disability Employers. A total of 20 employers around the state were recognized for “going above and beyond” to support employees with disabilities, MOHR said.
“Hiring and retaining employees of all abilities strengthens diversity, fosters inclusion, and adds creative energy to Minnesota’s workforce,” MOHR Board chairwoman Julie Johnson said in a news release. “The businesses we’re honoring all go out of their way to create an environment where Minnesotans with disabilities can thrive.”
Last week, representatives of Advance Opportunities, a nonprofit serving people with disabilities in the Marshall area, presented Lyon County Environmental Administrator Roger Schroeder with the award. Advance Opportunities CEO Elizabeth Schear said she had nominated Lyon County for the award for its role in employing disabled people at its recycling programs and other areas.
“They have been a phenomenal group of people to work with,” Schear said. She said Lyon County Commissioner Charlie Sanow and Schroeder both played important roles in creating opportunities for people with disabilities.
In 2017, Lyon County Environmental Services started a pilot recycling program to divert bulky mattresses from the county landfill. Over the past five years, Advance Opportunities clients have worked to break mattresses down for recycling. They have also worked with the county to take apart old infant car seats and condense styrofoam for recycling. One individual refurbishes computer equipment for the ResQZone recycling initiative in Lyon County. Schroeder said Advance Opportunities clients also work at the Lyon County landfill to help control litter.
“The biggest impact Roger and the others who work in Environmental Services have had on the quality of life for the individuals working there is the amount of time they all take to really understand the feelings and needs of the individuals. I can tell they really care about each individual and truly want to see them succeed,” Schear said in her nomination.
Schear said Schroeder has also been a strong advocate for the individuals served by Advance.
“He advocates for higher wages for them whenever possible. He ensures the work environment is always safe and enjoyable. The individuals we serve feel they are included in the workforce and they fulfill a needed role within the community,” she said.
Schear said she hoped that Lyon County’s work with Advance Opportunities clients would help lay the groundwork in the area to encourage employers to hire people with disabilities.
It’s a goal that MOHR also supports.
“Individuals with disabilities across Minnesota are able to gain independence, purpose, and community when they are included in the workforce,” Johnson said. “MOHR is excited to share the great things happening in disability employment across our state.”