On Thursday, July 7th the queens met for an afternoon of Empac and Orange Leaf! Unfortunately, I was unable to personally attend this event, however I was still able to get the inside scoop thanks to a few of the candidates who were willing to share their experiences with me. :) A fun twist, the queens were joined by the 2021 fair queen court for this adventure.
The afternoon began at the Empac group location in Washington, where the girls were given a tour of the facility by Empac's plant manager, John Walsh. For those unfamiliar with Empac, the organization has been providing custom manufacturing, assembly and packaging solutions to partners in the St. Louis and Franklin County Region since 1967. They currently employ hundreds of those impacted with disabilities, providing a range of employment opportunities within the surrounding communities.
"We are a company that can compete with any other packaging company in the country," Walsh remarked. "The CEOs in charge of companies that purchase from us usually don't even know that we are a handicapped facility."
The girls absolutely loved the tour, which allowed them to see how different goods are made and packaged. "We teach them all kinds of common skills," Walsh said, "like how to use nail guns and how to read tape measures and blueprints. But the biggest thing is just how to work well with others." One of the queens who shared her experience with me mentioned that her favorite part of the afternoon was personally talking with the staff. "It was really intriguing to hear their stories and ask them about their jobs," she told me.
Christa Mohesky, Director of Operations, also met the girls on their tour and gave them more details about Empac. As well as providing work for their employees, she explained that they also give a sense of community. "Our folks love to come to work, it's a huge part of their social life," she said. "They have friends here and some even have boyfriends and girlfriends here!" The queens giggled and then proceeded to ask both Christa and John any remaining questions they had about their work.
As their Empac experience ended, the girls posed for a picture outside with their tour guides to capture the moment. If you look closely at the picture, you can see that the queens received their sashes - which we are SO excited about! Following Empac, it just so happened to be “sweet treat o’clock” … so the queen clan went to Orange Leaf to debrief over froyo! As the girls visited and discussed their day together, they also started to look forward to their next event. Spoiler alert! It’s an eventful day in Washington that you won’t want to miss. :)