Northland Individuals and Organizations
Honored at VSI Awards Night

Northlanders with disabilities, volunteers, parents and community leaders were honored at the Vocational Services, Inc. Community Awards Night June 21. Nearly 400 people attended the event held in the Courtyard by Marriott at Briarcliff.

The honorees featured a wide range of Clay and Platte County residents, including those served by VSI, long-time supporters and businesses that help broaden employment opportunities. The first two honorees were employees whose disabilities have not stopped them from serving as role models.

Brett Hagen received the VSI Production Employee of the Year Award for his nearly 10 years of effort with VSI. Well known for his diligence and pride in the work he does, Hagen serves as role model for others at the VSI workshop in Liberty where he is employed.

Another Northlander, Devin Disselhoff, received the VSI Supported Employment Consumer of the Year Award. Employed by Home Depot in Gladstone since 1998, he has worked in several departments and is known for offering help and directions to guests who have questions. He often helps new supported employees at Home Depot and is an excellent advocate for himself and others.

Several retiring workers were recognized, including Platte County resident Ron Zimmerman who recently completed 38 years with VSI. Laura Wagenknecht was honored for her work, including service at the North Kansas City location. Terry Scholdberg was recognized for years as a warehouse staff member who could also be found solving a wide range of problems. Other retiring employees recognized were Larry Hufford and Ronnie Lowe, who worked 47 and 39 years, respectively.

The Parent/Guardian of the Year Award went to Liberty residents Jean Elliott and her son, Stephen Elliot. Well known for the support they have shown for a family member, the two have taken time to ensure that the individual’s needs are met both inside and outside of VSI.

Organizations that work closely with VSI or supply critical services were also honored. Liberty Plumbing, represented by Shaun Robinson, was named Vendor of the Year. Customer of the Year went to GT Midwest, one of VSI’s longest-standing partners. GT Midwest was recognized for their outstanding collaboration on a wide range of packaging tasks. Based in North Kansas City, GT Midwest was represented by Gary Best.

Two companies were honored for their efforts to employ workers with disabilities. Liberty Olive Garden was named the Clay County Employer of the Year and Hereford House at Zona Rosa was Platte County Employer of the Year. Hollie Norton and Jon Hetheriton represented Olive Garden while General Manager Adrea Pavek represented Hereford House.

King of Kings Lutheran Church, Kansas City, North, received the Benefactor’s Award for the organization’s generosity and kindness toward VSI. Cheryl Dirksen, a church member who died last year, valued the VSI mission and the individuals served. She inspired not only monetary giving but also the gift of time. Last fall, fellow church members, friends and family spent several Saturdays working on the landscape at VSI’s Liberty locations. Their monetary donations are being used to help fund a Water fountain/Bottle filling station project.

Missouri State Representative Kevin Corlew received the Legislator of the Year Award for his outstanding advocacy for individuals with disabilities and their choices for employment.

Liberty resident and community leader Robert Sevier received the special Working for the Public Good Award, which is given to an individual that goes above and beyond to serve the greater good. Sevier has generously worked 40 years to help area residents with disabilities, and now serves as a member of the Developmental Resources Board of Clay County.

Dee and Dan Sharp of rural Clay County were recognized with the Volunteer of the Year Award. For several years, this couple has been supported VSI in a variety of ways, from painting bathrooms to preparing floats and providing support for holiday parties. They also grow beautiful plants that are donated for the VSI Silent Auctions.

Deena James, founder of the Cowell James Forge Insurance Group, was presented the Director's Award her outstanding service and extra efforts helping VSI.

Long-time supporter William Welliver of Platte County was named the VSI Board Member of the Year. A former board president, Welliver has spent years serving VSI in multiple leadership roles. He and his wife, Lois, continue to work and serve the community and share their knowledge and experience to help others parent children with disabilities.

Derrick Griffel, Kansas City, received the VSI Employee of the Year Award for his daily embodiment of the values and philosophy of VSI. With responsibilities ranging from IT to VSI’s PrintShop, he is often at work before sunrise to ensure all systems are operating efficiently.

The event began with a silent auction and celebration of VSI’s efforts since 1966 to provide employment and other opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.




For over 50 years, Vocational Services, Inc. has been working for the public good: providing employment and other vital services for citizens with developmental disabilities, and serving the business community with on-demand, flexible services and programs.



VSI services include a wide range of programs for people with disabilities and outstanding services for businesses. Read More.



Parents, guardians, people with disabilities and others interested in VSI programs are invited to schedule a tour of our facilities. Read More.



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Vocational Services, Inc. is recognized by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). The Arizona-based organization is considered the nation's leading accreditation agency for rehabilitation services. VSI has earned CARF's highest rating, a three-year accreditation.