Humans of KANDU

Stories from the everyday heroes of KANDU.
Are you a client, family member/caregiver, staff member, volunteer, donor, sponsor or customer of KANDU? Click here to submit your story!

“I’m doing a new job right now. I’m doing good. I put a piece in a bag and pass it. It’s kind of hard. I’m proud of myself. I’m happy.”

—Jacob M., Client Worker

“I have been on the Board of KANDU for the past 8 years and I am so proud of the fantastic work they do for people with disabilities and disadvantages. I am continually impressed, not only by the diversity of their programs, but also by the ability to maintain a viable and growing business that impacts lives every day.”

—Marcy Weber, KANDU Board of Directors & Volunteer

“I like coming to work, making money, hot lunch on Fridays and my friends. I’m [currently] doing a candy job. It’s sticky. I did 150 stickers on a job once.”

—Amber S., Client Worker

“I once made a referral for a non-verbal client to receive speech therapy as she was struggling to communicate. Several years later, I watched that client speak and communicate to her peers and staff alike. She continues to verbalize her thoughts to this day…”

—Holly Clark, Retired KANDU Nurse

“KANDU is helpful. They help people. KANDU helps me become more appropriate, so I can get a job in the community. I am proud of myself… I have come a long way since I started at KANDU.”

—Mary W., Client Worker

“What I like about KANDU is the multiple job opportunities and working with my peers. Every day I feel happy and joyness because I see happy faces. Everyone is real nice and they like to greet you.”

—Patrick M., Client Worker

“[I work at] Dairy Queen on W Court St. I deliver trays, fill ice, deliver food to cars, clean and make chicken boxes. KANDU helps me work… helps find me jobs. I started with bus coaching and I worked at Texas Roadhouse, but it was too busy. KANDU worked to find something that was a better fit. I wanted to work at a restaurant, and wanted to work at DQ to see my “dudes”. (High school guys that come in during the lunch shift). [My dream life is] to be a mentor to other individuals with disabilities. Keep working hard, and have a nice day!”

—Alex Z., KANDU Client, Community Employment

“To me, KANDU [Increased Support Program] is an opportunity for those who may not be able to have any opportunities in the outside world. It is a safe haven and socialization. In our outside world, there is a definition of normal. In KANDU, this is our normal. Here, we help [clients] gain confidence and they all have a goal. They amaze me with their drive. If the world out there had the kind of drive they have, the world would…WOW, be truly an amazing place!”

—Victor McDonald, Increased Support Program Specialist 

“My favorite thing about KANDU is they helped me find a job so I can make my own money. I like working at Bodacious because I get to go outside and enjoy the river while I clean the patio. Plus, everyone is so nice to me.” 

—Monica P., KANDU Client, Community Employment

“I appreciate KANDU for being a non-profit that provides a safe place while helping the individuals they serve feel more confident and independent. I’ve seen Monica grow. She started out shy and now she’s very open, independent and not shy about asking questions.”

—Ande H., Bodacious Shops of Block 42

“Monica’s Dad and I are so appreciative of KANDU’s willingness to help solve problems and help us navigate the system to find the best help for Monica, so she can be independent. KANDU’s staff genuinely care and always know Monica. I may not know the staff member, but they definitely know her. That connection is so important.”

—Cheryl P., Monica’s Mom

“I like KANDU as it provides a job for me every day and I get to work with my friends. [My favorite KANDU memory is] getting to participate in the Dragons on the Rock fundraiser by being in the boat as the drummer and then winning the drumming contest.”

—Mike B., Client Worker

“I feel blessed that my son has a safe place to work every day. A place where he feels valued as an employee as working in the community has failed for him. I have NEVER seen him more excited about a work activity (Dragons on the Rock) and winning that drumming contest.”

—Vicky B., Mike’s Mom & KANDU Volunteer

“KANDU is such a special place for me. As a teacher and as an administrator in the area of special education, I worked closely with the educational portion of KANDU. Being part of KANDU as a board member allows me to continue to carry on my passion and advocacy for the clients (many of whom I taught) as they make their choice to work at KANDU. I love the smiling faces!
Not all persons have to look alike or do the same thing within the confines of what we typically call “normal”. The world would be quite boring and less valued. There is a great need to continue to provide the services KANDU offers to persons in need within the community. Staying positive and progressive in identifying the needs keeps KANDU a growing and valuable resource. It is also a warm and fuzzy kind of place where all people feel cared for and safe.”

—Dr. Barb Kelley, President, KANDU Board of Directors

“In 2011, two days before my 18th birthday, I was hired at Best Events as wait staff. After about three years of dedication, I was promoted to Event Manager while in college at UW-Whitewater. After graduating in December, I used my education to take a different path at KANDU, and I got the job as a Development Assistant where I continue to help the company on the front lines and behind the scenes. My favorite thing about working at KANDU is being able to take pride in my work while giving back to individuals in need.
My favorite memories come from working company employee or customer appreciation picnics with Best Events, especially Mercy Health and Blackhawk Credit Union. It proved how much care and effort Best Events Catering could put in when the team came together.”

—Andrew Galauner, Development Assistant