Talent Connect Graduation

Talent Connect graduate Brendon (L) gives a thumbs-up to the audience as he receives his certificate from UCP Heartland On-Site Trainer Jeff Faust (R)

On Friday, December 8, 2017 a unique graduation ceremony took place at Lindenwood University. Families and supporters gathered in a small dining room on campus to celebrate the hard work of five UCP Heartland program participants who completed a 12-week employment training course offered through the UCP Heartland Talent Connect program.

Talent Connect is an innovative training-to-employment program designed to help people living with disabilities start and maintain careers in the hotel and hospitality industry. The program helps participants navigate barriers to employment and works with employers in the industry to connect them with dedicated, talented program participants who are industry-trained and ready for long-term, meaningful employment.

The recent graduates participated in 12 weeks of job training through Talent Connect and now hold hospitality-related positions at Lindenwod University. After graduating from training, Talent Connect participants receive ongoing support from UCP Heartland staff as they continue developing their skills on the job.


Talent Connect is a collaborative partnership program between UCP Heartland and The Center for Head Injury Services. UCP Heartland’s branch specializes in the hotel and hospital industry while The Center for Head Injury Services focuses on manufacturing and distribution industries.

First Community Game Night

UCP Heartland Program Director Luke (L) plays cornhole/bags with Stephanie (R) at Community Game Night

The first ever UCP Heartland “Community Game Night” debuted at Canterbury Center on Wednesday, December 13, bringing positive reviews. Program Director Luke Leidenfrost said, “I think people had fun, and we’re planning on hosting one every other month.” In all, more than 25 people attended “Community Game Night.” They played a variety of board games, card games, X-box 360, bags and app-based games on a Promethean Board which was described as a “HUGE hit!” by VP of Programs Craig Strohbeck.

Craig said the event brought together people who normally don’t interact with another. “It was incredible seeing people from different services engaging with each other, with staff and with community members.  This bonding experience is what builds bridges to bigger and better experiences for everyone involved.”

Immediately after the event, Craig said, “Everyone was asking how soon we could do it again so we’re already planning our next ‘Community Game Night’ in February, coordinating with other local providers and giving more advanced notice to the community.”

Craig described the event as “a party atmosphere with snacks, smiles, social victories and community.” We hope to see even more UCPH employees and supporters at February’s event!