Monday Minute | 024

More than 30 classic and modern cars were on display at the one-day Fort Wayne Motorfest event held August 25 and sponsored by PQC. Lots of onlookers were able to admire some of Indiana’s and Ohio’s finest hot rods and classic cruisers. Even with a delayed start due to wind and rain, the event was well attended. Despite the foul weather that threatened to turn sponsorship tents into sails and toppled the DJ’s equipment, everyone went home safe and sound.

This was the first year for the event, and it gathered more than $1,000 for the Windrose Learning organization. Windrose Urban Farm is a local Fort Wayne program with a singular focus: They seek to provide employment opportunities for individuals living with special needs in our community while growing high-quality food and garden products. They know that by giving employment to people with special needs, they will create jobs and provide fulfilling opportunities. In turn, they then hope to nurture compassion and understanding by exposing the community to individuals with disabilities. Their employees will work in either the warehouse/grow rooms at the urban farm in downtown Fort Wayne, run deliveries, or sell their products during the week and weekends at local farmers markets. Their goal is to ultimately have a permanent position at the new Electric Works facility, which was a partial sponsor for the event.

In addition to the car show, the Motorfest provided a great opportunity that allowed both the local community and surrounding neighbors to see the possibilities for the Electric Works campus. This fun event also hosted the Windrose Urban Farm booth, which sold their highly sought-after mushrooms as well as lemon shake-ups and locally made yard games. Along with PQC and Electric Works, other local sponsors included Sweetwater Sound, Edwards Sewing Center, and Clean Fuels National. Local restaurants also gave out raffle prizes, with local food trucks and Sweet Creations serving fabulous food that would make anyone give up their diet!

We’re looking forward to future years and being a part of the event as it grows!

Contributions to Windrose Urban Farm can be made at www.windroselearning.org.

-Stacey Smith, PQC President & CEO

Monday Minute | 023

In today’s labor market, it can be difficult to find the right person to fit an open position. It’s because, thankfully, we are working in a market where there are lots of jobs and lots of options. Because PQC does vocational rehab, we seek out those open jobs that could be held by someone with disabilities. We’ve learned that—when given a chance—there is a job for every person, and we just need to provide the information, training and encouragement to go after it.

People and businesses can succeed when they have the information that they need to make a difference in their lives. As economic freedom is often tethered to employment, providing employers and prospective employees with information on available tools helps make that transition, but it also takes a lot of communication and support. Some of that comes in the form of coaching and job training from companies like PQC, but often it comes from the hiring organizations themselves. I recently had a story of a company being very supportive of hiring people with disabilities; however, when one of our clients was about to pass their 90-day review, they were let go. When we went back to find out what happened, the company was thrilled with the person’s attitude, attendance and willingness to learn; however, where they failed was in the volume that was required. At no time did their management let either our client or their employment specialist know about this pending metric that was “make or break” to future employment. It makes me wonder how committed they really are to disability hiring. Even if that person was only to make 90 percent of production, they had to be better than having no one fill that need. What are we willing to do to make it possible to fill those jobs that go unfilled?

Only 35 percent of U.S. civilians with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 64 had a job in 2015, compared to 76 percent for people without disabilities. At the end of the day, our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life. People with disabilities deserve the opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence, just like anyone else. So, the next time you hear about a company being a champion for disability hiring, please say thanks! And then make sure they really mean it. Look around and be a cheerleader for that person who is working and making a difference. They are no longer part of the 65 percent that are still waiting for the right opportunity.

-Stacey Smith, PQC President & CEO

Monday Minute | 022

We call the toughest days we face “character building.” Those times when we are tested could be emotional or physical, ethical or intellectual, professional or personal. The choices we make in these moments say a lot about our character.

Character primarily refers to the assembly of qualities that distinguish one individual from another. “Be honest, moderate, sincere”; this line from Hamlet tells us that the term “character” consists of a wide variety of attributes, including the existence or lack of virtues such as integrity, courage, fortitude, honesty, humility and loyalty, or of the prevalence of good behavior or habits. Our character is who we are even when no one is watching. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” Moral character is the bedrock of values on which our thoughts, speech and actions are built. Your character is who you are; it defines you and guides your actions. Our character depends on how we behave when faced with challenges and adversities.

When faced with tough challenges, especially when it comes to PQC, my first tendency is always to look for opportunity based on solutions and possibilities. I think that’s part of the character most business owners must cultivate. It would be tough to sustain an organization without some sort of positive view toward the results. The challenge that leaders face in today’s organization is balancing that optimism with a strong sense of reality. My highly optimistic character generally gets pushed by today’s business market, which has little space for nurturing the entrepreneurial character. We are faced with higher customer demands, tighter budgets, and increased competition. When looking for guidance, the results tend toward a stream of “leadership rhetoric” that makes those character-building moments sound so easy. Ultimately, we must face the results of tough love, especially when it might be seen as harsh. Part of having character is about making those tough decisions.