Talent Connect Wins Annual Inclusion Award from MO Governor’s Council on Disability

Congratulations to UCP Heartland’s Talent Connect program on winning the 2017 Missouri Governor’s Council on Disability’s Inclusion Award! The annual award recognizes employers, organizations and individuals who demonstrate excellence in leadership for inclusive practices. Talent Connect will receive the award at the Power Up Assistive Technology Conference in April 2018.

UCP Heartland’s Talent Connect is an innovative training-to-employment program designed to help people living with disabilities start careers in the hotel and hospitality industry. Talent Connect partners with local employers like the Marriott, Pedestal Foods, and Drury Hotels to provide on-site training for program participants. Program staff provide ongoing support for trainees as they build skills that will prepare them for successful long-term employment.

Talent Connect helps companies build dedicated and trained workforces that include people living with disabilities. The program’s methods have proven successful as staff work alongside employers and trainees to connect talented people with the right positions. We look forward to Talent Connect’s continued growth, leading to more positive outcomes and job opportunities for people living with disabilities.

Photo: Sharon (center) recently graduated from the Talent Connect training program and now has a job at the Marriott St. Louis Grand. Casey (L), an On-Site Trainer for Talent Connect and LaShawna (R), Assistant Operations Manager at the Marriott, celebrate with Sharon.

UCP Heartland Gibbs Center Welcomes Lisa Palmer as New Director

If you haven’t met Lisa, you might know Lisa by her other name “Max’s mom.” If you haven’t met Max, look around. He’s iconic at UCP Heartland. The Adult Day program participants at the Gibbs Center in Jefferson City all introduce him this way, “This is Max. He’s my dog!”

Lisa Palmer not only brought Max the Support Dog to the Gibbs Center 2 ½ years ago, she also brought 15 years of experience working with people living with a range of challenges, from behavioral health to developmental disabilities.

As the new Director of the Gibbs Center, Lisa is moving into the position at a pivotal time: the building is undergoing a total renovation. Gibbs Center is also expanding the employment program in Jefferson City, adding two residential apartments and looking at expansion to another city.

Lisa takes this in stride. What she loves best about Gibbs Center? “The feeling of self-worth we give our program participants. The feeling of acceptance. No judgement here.” Lisa said she’s “excited about the future and the opportunity to work with everybody at UCP Heartland.”

Judy Grainger, VP of Programs for Gibbs Center, said about Lisa’s promotion, “Lisa embodies our mission… we’re lucky to have her. She’s the right cog in our wheel.”