Unlimited Opportunities, Inc. and its supporters gathered last Friday in the Isle of Capri ballroom to celebrate the organization’s accomplishments over the past year and recognize a few outstanding individuals.

Executive Director Jennifer Waibel has the best job she can imagine doing, even though not every day is easy, she said.

“If you walk inside our halls, you know the little things really matter,” she said.

Kansas City-based recycling company Ripple Glass gave Unlimited Opportunities its 2019 Glass Recycler of the Year award. The Sheltered Workshop Insurance of Missouri also awarded Unlimited Opportunities for not having any losses from worker’s compensation claim. It’s been three-and-a-half years since someone missed work due to an injury at the workshop, Waibel said.

The recycling center diverted almost 3.5 million pounds of material from the landfill last year. Waibel thanked everyone who recycled. “We have jobs because of that,” she said.

UOI has many longtime employees. One staff member has worked there for more than 25 years, Waibel said. Nineteen staff members have worked there 5 to 10 years, 15 staff members at 10 to 15 years, five staff members at 15 to 20 years, and five others between 20 and 25 years.

The workshop also started a new Christmas tradition, collecting donations to pay for Christmas celebrations of Unlimited Opportunities families. It collected $1,500, and helped three families during last year’s holiday season. It was one of the most fulfilling opportunities of the year, and they’re going to keep doing it, Waibel said.

The organization gave special recognition to six people during the ceremony.

Monica Elliott is unique, phenomenal and entertaining, Waibel said. When someone fell on their way home, Elliot voluntarily went to the hospital with him and stayed by his side, Waibel said.

“She can tell a heck of a story, and seems to really enjoy her job and her coworkers,” Waibel said.

Rob Adams has been with UOI since 2009. He’s grown, gained independence and made Savvy Seconds better, Waibel said. Adams is friendly, funny, positive and caring, she said.

“He recognizes his journey, and the speed bumps he’s had along the way, and strives to be the best version of himself,” Waibel said.

Jerry Steakley always shows up to work with a smile on his face, ready to get the job done, said Lori Woods of UOI. He’ll work weekends, holidays and come in when called. He’s saved a lot of money doing work like HVAC repair that they would have had to contract out, Woods said.

“I love these clients, man, they make me smile,” Steakley said. “I try to talk to them all just like they’re my own family.”

William Wonders has a great work ethic and sets an example for everyone, said recycling manager Geoff Shackelford. He’s steady, unassuming and productive. The center’s cost per bale of cardboard has gone down significantly, directly because of his efforts, Shackelford said.

“He comes to work every day ready to go, and does what we need him to do,” he said.

Shirley Roettgen has been working at the rest stop for going on six years, said Director of Boonslick Industries C.J. Welch. She was reserved when she first started, but is now like a mother to the other employees.

“I hear from our certified employees what a nice person she it,” said Welch. “That’s very important to our folks.”

Marsha Tinsley cares genuinely about the people around her, Waibel said. When she’s out and she sees something with their name on it, she’ll buy it for them as a gift. She never fails to give cards for birthdays and anniversaries, and they’re all heartfelt, said Waibel. Tinsley never complains, even when a lot of other people would.

“Honestly, if we could clone her, we would,” Waibel said.