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A 'critical' part of the team

Kathy, one of the Opportunity Services clients assigned to the Treasure Island Resort & Casino dish room, poses while helping wash dishes before Tradewinds Buffet opens. Resort staff said the workers boost morale with their positive attitude. (Republican Eagle photos by Michael Brun)1 / 2
Andrew and Ellie, two longtime Opportunity Services clients, stock a hotel landing with toiletries. The nonprofit organization connects disabled adults with business partners around the state.2 / 2

On a Wednesday morning this month at Treasure Island Resort & Casino, a stream of guests left their hotel rooms for the 11 o’clock checkout. Meanwhile, downstairs, a group of casino patrons lined up waiting for Tradewinds Buffet to open.

Just like every day, guests checking into the hotel that afternoon would find their rooms fresh and restocked, and those eating lunch at the buffet would have plenty of clean plates and silverware. 

It can be easy to ignore the behind-the-scenes tasks of the hospitality industry — especially when things go smoothly — but running a hotel and casino takes hours of daily preparation.

At Treasure Island, much of that work is thanks to people like Andrew, Ellie, Kathy and others — all local disabled adults employed through Opportunity Services.

“They truly are a critical piece of keeping everything full and stocked,” said Cindy Taube, Treasure Island public relations manager. “They’re always happy to be here and have great attitudes.”

The entertainment complex has collaborated for more than 15 years with Opportunity Services, a Minnesota-based nonprofit that helps clients with physical and developmental disabilities find work.

Opportunity Services sends 10 individuals in two crews to Treasure Island each weekday. One crew stocks the hotel’s 12 landings with toiletries and sorts linens, while the other works in the dish room cleaning dishes from the buffet and Currents restaurant.

The 500-room hotel goes through 800 cases of toiletries in a year, with Opportunity Services workers responsible for stocking an estimated 12,600 bottles of shampoo, lotion and conditioner and 6,300 bars of soap.

Amber Titel, Opportunity Services job coach for the hotel crew, said the workers have a great reputation with hotel staff.

“They say good morning and thank them for their hard work,” she said.

In the dish room, Opportunity Services crew members help free up staff during the hectic lunch shift, Executive Steward Tim Warren said.

“They take care of the dishes when my guys are busy doing other things,” he said, adding that the buffet serves as many as 600 people on a normal day.

On holidays or busy days, workers can clean up to 2,000 dishes during a single 5-hour shift, according to Opportunity Services.

“It is really gratifying to witness the growth and development of an individual once they are given the opportunity to work in the community,” said Tisha Krig, supervisor of the Goodhue County Opportunity Services office.

The crews at Treasure Island come from the Red Wing area, but Krig said Opportunity Services serves all of Goodhue County.

Learn more

The organization also has offices in six other Minnesota counties and partnerships with over 100 businesses statewide.

Opportunity Services will hold an open house 1 to 8 p.m. Thursday Oct. 2 in Red Wing, 1618 W. Third St., for families and interested business partners to learn more about the organization.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

(651) 301-7875
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