Kalix in Minot does a lot of things, one of their most well-known services is recycling. However, another one of their programs gives 70 people with disabilities the opportunities to do things they might not otherwise get to do.
Through the Human Connection Program, people can volunteer, engage, and explore their community.
“I think the human connection is something that everybody wants to feel,” program administrator, Steve Quist, said.
That’s why the Human Connection Program is so important, it brings people together.
“We’ve got a gentleman who goes to Wendys once a week who’s got his own special handshake with the manager,” said Quist. “If the manager’s got his gloves on during the service, they’ll do an elbow bump.”
That gentleman is Rodney Andreson and he does, in fact, have a handshake with the Wendy’s manager.
It’s connections like that that the program hopes to establish more of. Plus, Rodney doesn’t seem to hate the perks of a weekly trip to Wendy’s.
Andreson excitedly said he also likes to go there “to have a frosty!”
During other parts of the day, he works at Kalix as well.
“I go here to tear books and recycle them,” he said.
A visit to a fast food restaurant is one of the hundreds of opportunities available for people in the Human Connection Program.
“Sometimes we go into town, sometimes we go for drives, sometimes we go to zoos and sometimes we go for a cookie run,” Kayce Braaten said.
KX News has even been a pit stop for cookie runs.
Braaten explained, “Cookie run means that we get the cookies here and we take it to different businesses.”
Things like that help people like Kayce and Rodney establish a routine, and more importantly, relationships.
“People in this population don’t always have close family contacts. Many do, but some don’t,” said Quist. “And getting that connection is really important to all of us.”
So far this year, there have been nearly 1,300 trips to the park, hundreds of trips to the mall, restaurants, and downtown, 200 trips to North Hill Bowl – which Kayce said she especially enjoys – 235 trips to the dome, 131 trips to the zoo, and 60 trips to the North Dakota State Fair — all through Human Connection.
The program is also working to collect data to really be able to narrow down exactly how well the program does and what areas need some work.