Hello, readers! Alexis here, and I have an incredible story to share with you. On April 26, five of our Memory Makers attended the Lifeworks Annual Celebration. Lifeworks is a nonprofit organization that serves people with disabilities. This gala event serves as a fundraiser for Lifeworks as well as a celebration for people with disabilities. And they really know how to make award winners feel special.
I wondered how Crystal D got involved with Lifeworks, so I asked Chuck to fill me in on the details. “Judy Lysne, the previous CEO of Lifeworks, is a friend of mine,” Chuck told me. “I went to one of the galas and saw how crappy the awards were. They didn’t represent the amazing people who won them. Then I found out that Lifeworks was paying for them! I volunteered to donate the awards, and we’ve been providing the awards since 2012. I’m very proud to see our awards associated with such a great organization.”
This year, Chuck sent five Memory Makers to the gala so they could experience the event. I got the chance to talk to them this week! They filled me in on how amazing the event was and all the emotions from the winners and attendees. The lucky five that attended were customer service and solutions manager Kari, HR manager Pam, solutions specialists Mike and Christian, and marketing coordinator Jen.
“I was so impressed with the acceptance speeches,” said Pam. “It is so refreshing to see and hear people that are so honest and not afraid to show their true emotions. They were genuinely proud of themselves yet still humble when accepting their awards. There is a stigma attached to people with disabilities, but these winners are all so talented and truly amazing. They are capable of so much!”
Lifeworks presented five awards that night. The first was for Volunteer of the Year which went to Josi Wert. She has been running a weekly women’s book club for the past ten years. The second award was for Employer of the Year which went to Ameriprise Financial. They have been hiring Lifeworks associates for the past 26 years. The third award went to Lori Noland for Staff Excellence. She runs the self-advocacy group in Brooklyn Park and takes individuals to the Capitol every Tuesday.
The last two awards went to Corey Baker and Ajani Lewis-McGhee for Personal Achievement. Corey works at Christopher & Banks. Ajani, or AJ as his coworkers call him, works at Allianz Life Insurance Company. Both of them have shown incredible growth personally, professionally, and emotionally through their involvement with Lifeworks.
“It was inspiring to see someone receive a Crystal D award,” Jen told me. “I loved seeing the emotion and pride on everyone’s faces when they got their awards. And the pride wasn’t just on the faces of winners. Everyone in the room was so proud and so happy for all the winners.”
In addition to honoring these incredible people, the Annual Celebration helped raise money for Lifeworks to continue serving people with disabilities in Minnesota. At the end of the night, the gala raised $458,000. They achieved this through a live auction, a silent art auction of art created by individuals at Lifeworks, a transportation fundraiser, and sponsorships.
The first fundraising effort was helping raise $100,000 for transportation costs. Starting with donations of $10,000 and working down to donations of $100, people attending the gala raised a total of $160,000 in less than five minutes! This money will help keep the fleet of 30 vehicles in working condition and insured all year! That’s impressive.
The second part of the fundraiser was a live auction. There were nine different prize packages, ranging from a couple of vacations to Hawaii and Orlando to suites at two Vikings games in 2018. Our Memory Makers really wanted a few of these prizes! And I don’t blame them since they sounded pretty awesome! These nine prizes raised a total of $45,000.
“To be a part of what Lifeworks does in any way, even providing the awards for the event, inspires me,” said Mike. “Seeing how the lives of the participants and their parents change gives me great hope since I am also a parent of a differently abled child.”
I’m so glad I got to hear all about this amazing event. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that Crystal D is helping Lifeworks make a difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities. If you want to learn more about Lifeworks, check out their website here. And to see more photos from the event, check out their Flickr album here!