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Business resumes at Sunflower Diversified Services – St. John News

Special for the St. John News

After nearly two years of schedule changes and reduced operations, Sunflower Diversified Services customers and staff have returned to a regular routine and are enjoying some new ventures.

Covid had brought a number of out-of-the-ordinary challenges to Sunflower, which serves people with developmental disabilities and delays in central Kansas.

“Life was put on hold for everyone, but sometimes it was even harder for the people we serve,” said Amanda Urban, director of compliance and quality assurance. “Structure and predictability, which are extremely important to clients, have been lacking during the pandemic.

“For example, we had to alternate working hours at the manufacturing plant to maintain our physical distance from each other. Residential services also continued throughout the pandemic – only on staggered schedules.

Additionally, Urban noted, the pandemic has been difficult for many people because they don’t have family members nearby. “Our staff have done their best to fill in the gaps, but we realize we cannot replace the family.”

Today, the future looks much brighter. The manufacturing plant and other areas of Sunflower have returned to normal, with more opportunities for employment, recreation and community involvement. For example, the number

For example, the number of packaging/assembly jobs has increased and the Aktion Club is back to serving its community. The club’s newest effort is participation in the Adopt-a-Highway program.

Sarah Stromski, education and advocacy manager, said the Aktion Club adopted two miles on US 281, mileposts 101 through 103, just south of Great Bend.

“The catalyst was Earth Day, April 22,” Stromski noted. “We wanted to tackle a project to help the environment and improve the quality of life. It seemed like a good fit.

Members of the 17-20 club pick up trash on both sides of the freeway after collecting trash bags and safety vests from the local Kansas Department of Transportation office. All participants have taken safety courses.

The Kiwanis club sponsors the Aktion Club; Sunflower’s group, which started in 2005, was the second to be chartered in Kansas.

“We are delighted to relaunch our club,” said Stromski. “It’s important to continue our Aktion legacy by getting out there and supporting our community.”

Stromski was promoted to her current position around the time the pandemic began; this led to a number of learning curves.

“When I started, everything stopped,” she recalls. “I had to learn through the abnormal. Then I had to learn what was normal. But it was worth it. I love giving lessons and organizing activities.

The Aktion Club again participates in its many annual parades and prepares for Party in the Park in August. Other volunteer efforts involve the Dream Center, Seniors Boxes, Sophomore Education Bags, Advocacy Day, and the upcoming Self-Advocate Coalition of Kansas conference.

Recent client activities also include: participation in wrestling tournaments in Hoisington and Larned; dancing at the Great Bend Recreation Commission; swimming; eat out; purchases; and catch a comedy show at the Crest Theatre. A visit to the Sternberg Museum in Hays is in preparation.

Sunflower serves infants, toddlers and adults in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties. He is in his 57th year.