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Ken Brown: Keeping the Office Clean and Safe

Ken Brown walks into the OPALCO office in Eastsound every Wednesday, hangs up his coat, places his snack (in a brown paper sack) into the staff refrigerator and gathers his materials for work. He knows his routine and gets right down to it. 

Orcas Islander Ken Brown came to work at OPALCO in January of 2018 and is an important part of the Co-op Team. Ken and his team from Sherwood Community Services arrive at least five minutes early every week to manage the office garbage, recycling, floor cleaning and other tasks as they arise. Ken’s favorite task is sweeping because, he says, it’s very satisfying to see the progress of his work in the dusty warehouse.  

One of Ken’s Sherwood partners, Priscila Urbanski, swells with pride for Ken’s positive attitude and eagerness to work. “Ken loves his job at OPALCO and is always on time and ready to work,” she said. “He’s very conscientious about attention to detail and careful to navigate the busy office without disturbing others at their work.”  

Ken’s strong work ethic is noticed and appreciated by many of the other OPALCO staffers each week. Nancy Loomis, OPALCO’s Manager of Finance and Member Services appreciates the job Ken does each week wiping down door handles and light switches. “Ken clearly cares about his job and the workplace, making it safer for all of us. He does a fantastic job, is willing to take on new tasks and has a strong sense of self-esteem about his role.” 

Other employees commented about Ken’s reliability and growing social graces in the workplace. “Ken is reliable,” said Member Services Engineer Matt Helms. “And I love seeing him around town wearing his OPALCO gear – he’s got a lot of pride in his job.” “At first, Ken was a little shy,” said Judy Bossert, Work Order Clerk. “Now, he responds when I say hello and is more comfortable and friendly. I look forward to seeing him each week.”  

During the COVID pandemic, OPALCO’s offices were closed to the public and Ken couldn’t come to work for many months. His mother Judy Schliebus reported that he sorely missed his job and wouldn’t entertain any other offers of work, instead waiting patiently for OPALCO to reopen. Undaunted, Ken pivoted to washing exterior windows at OPALCO and sweeping the outside walkways. Ken’s hard work doesn’t stop at the office; Judy says Ken is a big help at home and told the story of his extraordinary effort during the last snowstorm to shovel their long driveway and completely clear it of snow.  

It’s not all work for Ken. He’s involved in art classes at the senior center, Zumba and exercise classes and loves to watch movies. Star Wars is one of his favorites.  

OPALCO is grateful for Ken’s dedicated and enthusiastic contributions to the office! 

Sherwood strives to create an inclusive society where children and adults with disabilities are able to live full, independent lives as a part of their community. Their work is rooted in the firm belief that all people deserve respect, dignity, and have the right to self-determination. OPALCO is committed to maintaining a healthy workplace that is open to people of all backgrounds, beliefs and abilities.  


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