Brandon Project Students Will Start Employment at Ruttger’s, Cragun’s
Special education students in Brainerd have been working on job skills through a new program called the Brandon Project. Once the students graduate, they will begin employment at local resorts this summer.
Even though the lake is covered in ice right now, before you know it, guests will be coming to Ruttger’s Resort for the summer, and with that, it’ll be time to hire new employees, including several from the Brandon Project.
“Everybody I have met so far, their heart is in it, they’re going to be hard workers, and they are going to have the right spirit,” said owner Chris Ruttger.
Ruttger is excited to get his newest employees started, but first, a tour of the resort.
“It’s very fun just standing back and watching their facial expressions and seeing the excitement building – it’s becoming real, not something we just talk about,” said Brandon Project instructor Teresa Christiansen.
It’s an eye-opening experience for the students and their parents.
“Being here is a relief,” said parent Katie Shetka. “Sending your child into the great unknown, but everybody is so warm and welcoming here.”
It’s where students will be working in areas like housekeeping.
“Stripping beds is my favorite,” said student Nathan Shetka.
Today, Nathan was able to see the rooms he will soon be working in and says he is excited.
“Yes, I am!” Nathan Shetka said with a big smile.
He isn’t the only one, as his mom is grateful for the opportunity for her son.
“He definitely likes to have responsibility; he is a very social individual and this gives him a sense of purpose,” Katie Shetka said.
Nathan is one of seven students that will soon be hired at Ruttger’s.
“It’s a whole lot of fun, and a new door opened up for me,” said student Dalton Schalz.
The skills they learn will prepare them for work, the resort and beyond.
“I think that he has improved on his skills at home by making beds, cleaning and taking care of his bedroom and just his overall happiness; yeah, he is happy,” said Peggy Carlson, Dalton’s mom.
And that happiness is mixed with a lot of excitement.
“It’s fun, I like this place,” said Dalton Schalz.
For a place that’s full of traditions, there will soon be one more added to the list.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for a lot of young adults that will really make a difference,” Christiansen said.
The students are excited for the ice to melt and get underway with their first ever jobs. About 14 students will be hired at Ruttger’s and Cragun’s Resort near the end of May.