Prescott, Arizona—This year, five employees of Yavapai Exceptional Industries (YEI!) celebrate 20 years of employment. Although each of them came to YEI! in a different way, and each has a different story, they all have one thing in common: they love YEI! and the people it serves—and they still enjoy coming in, every day—because it doesn’t feel like work.
As YEI! Executive Director Brad Newman—who marks 44 years in his position this January— said, “The extended tenure of these YEI! staff is one of many distinguishing features of YEI! We do God’s work with God’s favorite people in God’s favorite place.” Employment Coordinator Ron Aguilera, Senior Production Supervisor Jon Ballard, Office Clerk Assistant Kirsten Brewer, Senior Production Supervisor Janie Hansen and Employment Coordinator Esly Pereyra gathered at YEI’s Antelope Point at Eastridge facility on a recent afternoon and shared their favorite things about the organization, its people, and each other.
“This is the kind of job where people work with each other and for each other, and that’s what I love about it,” Aguilera said. “To be able to go to work after twenty-four years and still love your job – what a concept.” Ballard said he came to YEI! as part of a summer work program.
“I fell in love with the guys,” he said. Since then, coming to work has been going to where he’s supposed to be. “When you’re having the worst day, you go to work and have a great day.” “I just absolutely love my job,” Brewer said. “There’s never a dull moment.” Although Hansen said her job supervising production technicians (also known as YEI! guys and gals) “can get a little hectic,” she said, “I love the guys I work with, and I love working with them.” Pereyra said more than anything, she loves the YEI! guys and gals.
“When you go to your job every day, you get those hugs and they say they love you—and it’s genuine.” Also, she feels like her position has enabled her to help the YEI! guys and gals reach their goals, and she’s making a real difference in their lives.
Newman jokes, “The first 25 years is a grind, but after that, it’s a downhill slide.” Joking aside, he attributes employee longevity to “the mission. This is work worth doing. We make our people into super stars; elsewhere they could be forgotten. And, the guys laugh at my jokes! Every day!” YEI! is a charitable organization founded in 1974 to support adults with disabilities living in the Central Highlands by providing them with job training, employment, volunteer placements, and support services. The "Developmental Employment" program at YEI! includes the awardwinning "Community Contribution Corps" and has been continually accredited at the highest level of service by the National Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities since 1978.