Workers with disabilities brighten BYU


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The Valley Personnel Company has been part of BYU for more than 25 years, enabling disabled staff to lift the hearts of many students on campus.

Valley Personnel Company is contracted with BYU and specializes in job training and helping disabled clients understand job responsibilities. Students interact with Valley Personnel workers at in the Cougareat, the Cannon Center and the Provo Missionary Training Center.

Job Coach Tiffany Adams manages the Valley Personnel staff at the Cougareat. Adams has worked with the company for 22 years, overseeing and guiding the Valley Personnel staff.

Her staff at the Cougareat consists of eight workers. Adams’ eyes lit up as she expressed how much her crew means to her. “They are human. They have feelings and, hey, want to be a part of everything that is going on,” Adams said.

She gets to know her workers one-on-one and sincerely cares about them. “They look forward to working,” she said. “They want to be here, they want the interaction, and they want to feel normal. They need to feel that they are loved.”

Adams said most people don’t want to be at work but that her crew doesn’t feel this way. “They love coming to work, especially at BYU, because everyone is friendly and students interact with them. They come happy to work every single day,” she said.

Adams told a story of one particular Valley Personnel worker who was ill. Her body limited her, but she wanted to work. When this worker’s family put her in a nursing home toward the end of her life, she decided to walk to work. Adams said this desire to work and serve is strong among the Valley Personnel workers.

“They love being here,” Adams said. “Especially at BYU, because everyone is friendly, and students interact with them.”

All of the Valley Personnel workers at the Cougareat help lift spirits for everyone, from fellow co-workers to students in the food court.

“They have a wonderful attitude and a sincere desire to work and to serve. They also give unconditional love all the time,” Adams said.

Amber Hale, BYU alumna and assistant to the general manager of retail dining, talked about that unconditional love and recalled her freshman year working at Freschetta.

Hale had a co-worker leaving Freschetta to study abroad in New Zealand. Hale said her co-worker was sad to leave behind her new friend she made through Valley Personnel. The love from the staff and student employees is evident in their interactions.

“For the people that have worked here (in the Cougareat), it’s really part of their BYU experience to interact with them, to get to know them and get to love them,” said Joe Tiapson, general manager of Retail Dining.

Tiapson said his wife stopped working in the Cougareat in 2003, but every time she comes to his workplace the seasoned Valley Personnel workers recognize her, go up to her and greet her.

“She is so happy to see that they are still here and still a part of the student experience here at BYU,” Tiapson said.

Tiapson said the Valley Personnel workers have taught him that inside we are all just people who have feelings and have good days and bad days. He said these Valley Personnel workers have constantly reminded him to enjoy life.

“Working with them is a reminder. The day-to-day transactions in the food court can serve up to 5,000 meals a day. It feels like a lot of the time we’re constantly running around, but there’s people behind every step along the way. When working with Valley Personnel, they’re so sincere and energetic; they just want to serve and to work,” Tiapson said.

He explained how one of the Valley Personnel workers was given random assignments and tasks throughout the week. “He is literally excited about doing those things,” Tiapson said. “I don’t have a lot of other workers that want to do these hard jobs that enthusiastically. This morning when I didn’t come to assign something else, he came and knocked on my door and said, ‘Joe, what do you have for me today? I am ready to work.’”

Tiapson said Valley Personnel workers are sincere, loving and ready to do their jobs. Eli Rios is from Springville and is 27 years old. He has worked at the Cougareat for almost five years. “It’s fun, and I like work,” Rios said.

Rios enjoys work because he gets to see friends and talk to students on campus. He loves to tell stories and talk about dancing, girls, dates and cooking. His favorite task is to load the dishes.

Linda Kay is from Puerto Rico and has been working for Valley Personnel for more than 20 years. “I have been working here for a very long time, but I like it,” Kay said.

Kay loves to attend the temple with her husband every Wednesday. She said she loves to work at BYU and likes to take out the recycle bin and put the dishes and trays away every morning. Students recognize her around campus for her loving personality.

Sandy Wand, from Lindon, has also worked for Valley Personnel for more than 20 years. Kay is known by some of her co-workers for her heartwarming greetings and hugs. She loves being around all her friends and the BYU students.

Dustin Forsyth is from Orem and has worked at both the Cannon Center and the Cougareat. Forsyth has a best buddy from BYU who has lunch with him a few times a week. He loves Subway because he loves to eat fresh foods. Forsyth loves dancing, singing and acting in plays. He joyfully shows his dancing skills to fellow co-workers and friends.

Nikky Krzymowski has been working at the Cougareat since 2000. She loves to read, often purchasing one new book every paycheck. She said her favorite books to read are all LDS books. Krzymowski also has a large collection of hats and wears a different hat every day of the year. Her favorite thing at work is talking to students and friends.

Melony Romreill is from Logan and has been working at the Cougareat for more than 10 years. She enjoys long car rides with her dad and sister and loves to go bowling. She is a sports fanatic and loves to keep track of her favorite football team—the BYU Cougars.

“If I don’t come into work I miss my friends and everyone I see,” she said.

Steve Walker is from Fairview, Utah, and is excited to work. He loves to scrub and unload the dishes and listen to country music. In the spring he plants a garden and says the hardest part of gardening is trying to keep the weeds out. His favorite part of working is seeing friends and helping out.

Amanda Jones is known for her giggles and smiles. Her co-workers say she is shy but that people will go and talk to her. Jones is known to be the happiest person to be around and loves to clap and celebrate small accomplishments.

The Valley Personnel group has touched the hearts of all those who have worked with them. Their co-workers say the workers’ sweet spirit is memorable, and their desire to work evident. They have enriched the environment here at BYU and constantly remind students to be happy.

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