Iowa Job Honor Awards recognizes north Iowa business

Winnebago Industries Forest City

It’s a first of its kind awards ceremony that honors people who’ve overcome struggles that have kept others unemployed. The Iowa Job Honor Awards also honors companies who hire them.

“Persons with disabilities are probably the most under represented population in the employment field, explains Michelle Krefft.

Krefft is a counselor for Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation, she works with Iowans who have disabilities and helps place them with employers.

“They’re often times misunderstood by businesses that think they’re going to miss more time, or they’re going to need expensive accommodations in order to work or they might not be dependable. Common misconceptions, but just that; misconceptions,” she explains.

Krefft reached out to Winnebago Industries to see if they’d be interested in tapping into what she thinks is an overlooked workforce.

“I tell you, when I call them, they don’t ask what can’t they do, they say, “Michelle, what can they do and we’ll find a job for them,” adds Krefft.

Offering a chance to those people is one of the reasons why the company received an award at the annual Iowa Job Honor Awards.

The awards is a new initiative aimed at recognizing Iowans who have overcome significant barriers to employment, like those with a disability, a previous criminal record, or the homeless.

“That’s really what they need is a hand up not a hand out.” Jeanie Kingery is the shelter administrator for the men’s and women’s homeless shelters in Mason City.

She says individuals who need to stay at the shelter face some challenges when it comes to finding work.

“Some of them come in and in two days, they have a job. Others, they struggle and struggle the entire time they’re here for whatever reason and they do have a harder time,” explains Kingery.

That’s why she says it’s so important companies like Winnebago work to give second chances by hiring employees who may have barriers.

“I just really appreciate the companies that are willing to give them a second chance.”

One of the goals of the Iowa Job Honor Awards is to “energize the work ethic across Iowa.”

Krefft says that so far this year, Winnebago has hired about 8 employees Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation has referred to them.

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