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What’s your why?

“My ‘why’ is absolutely the people” - Ian Kellar

Ian Kellar was working in a restaurant that was about to close, and a friend suggested that he apply for a job at Black Hills Works. “I was nervous, but I instantly fell in love with the job, the people I supported, and my coworkers. When the restaurant re-opened, I didn’t want my old job back!”

Kellar would say he has found his purpose—working alongside direct support professionals and people with disabilities as the individual support coordinator for the St. Cloud and Wisconsin Apartments, two homes that provide people supported by Black Hills Works with housing. He began working at Black Hills Works in 2011.

Kellar started as a direct support professional, teaching the people he supported about shopping and personal grooming, how to take their medications, and accompanying them to hockey games and other activities. As an individual support coordinator today, he schedules individual planning meetings with people supported to develop specific goals, assist them with creating budgets, monitor requests for special funding, and ensure needs are met through a system of checks and balances.

So, what is Kellar’s main reason for coming to work each day? What is his why?

“My ‘why’ is absolutely the people,” he said. “I love knowing what everyone on my case load has been doing. I follow up with them on their support plans, make sure they’re taken care of, and perhaps most importantly, that their voices are heard.”       –Ian Kellar

Over the past seven years, Kellar has worked closely with the residents of St. Cloud Apartments. “We know each other really well now. I ask about their families, and they ask how my kids and dogs are doing. We’ve gone to the movies, the fair, played video games, driven around to look at Christmas lights, and celebrated the Fourth of July together.”

He also has special memories with the Wisconsin residents from earlier in his career at Black Hills Works. “When I was the home manager there, we had water gun fights, picnics and camping trips.”

Kellar recalls when he took a group from Wisconsin Apartments to Meeting the Need lodge outside of Keystone. The group played tourist—exploring the Black Hills, having old time photos taken, and viewing Mount Rushmore.

“I framed my photos,” said Kellar. “Years later, people are still talking about that trip, and many also got their photos framed. That’s a lasting memory.”

Kellar, who has two sons with wife Kayla, said he’ll stay with Black Hills Works for the foreseeable future. “I hope to keep learning and gaining a fuller understanding of the big picture of this work, and of life.”

That bigger picture includes helping adults with disabilities receive greater access to jobs, and personally, practicing patience and having energy to continue to give his all to his work life and his home life. “There can be some trying moments, but it’s taught me perseverance. It’s honestly the best job I’ve ever had.”


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