Prairie Independent Living Resource Center organized a Job-A-Thon last month, but employees work every day to assist those with a variety of needs.

The mission of Tasha Konrade (Services Coordinator), Chelsey Rose (Independent Living Specialist), Tom Harrison (Employment Specialist) and Linda Adelhardt (Information and Referral Specialist) at Prairie Independent Living Resource Center (PILR) in Pratt is to help people with disabilities find jobs and improve their living conditions. But somehow, when the end of an event, or even a single day comes, it seems they have lent a helping hand to the entire community.
In April, PILR, in connection with the South Central Special Education Cooperative and The Peoples Bank, hosted Job-A-Thon for youth in the community. More than 100 students from 14 different schools came to the Pratt County Fairgrounds to learn from and visit with more than 40 local business and organization leaders who set up information booths at the Pratt County Fairgrounds.
“It was a great day,” said Rose, who helped set up for the event. “It’s great to see the community really connecting with kids. They all seemed to have fun and get a lot out of it.”
The Job-A-Thon was a hands-on career fair with interactive exhibits where students got their “Passports for Success” stamped, did mock interviews for jobs and were then evaluated and given points for a school competition.
Kiowa County High School won a $200 check to use for a philanthropic activity in their community, made possible by their combined student-interview scores. They are were awarded a “Traveling Job-A-Thon” trophy, which they keep for one year.
A special speaker for the event in Pratt was 2018 Miss Kansas Hannah Klassen, who took the time for pictures with the trophy winners from Kiowa County and other fans.
After booth visits and mock job interviews were  over, those attending the 2019 Job-A-Thon were treated to “Dress for Success” fashion show, put on by Pratt consignment shop, Sweet Repeats.
“It was a really good fashion show because the kids learned how easy it was to put together proper work attire for different types of jobs, while not spending a lot of money,” Rose said.
Konrade, the service coordinator for PILR, brought together several sponsors for the Job-A-Thon, including The Peoples Bank and Wal-Mart, as well as organizing business participation.
“I would like to thank all of the sponsors for their donations for important youth events like this every year,” Konrade said. “Events like these would not be possible without the graciousness of volunteers and sponsors.”
According to Rose, the annual Job-A-Thon is just one small part of what PILR does on a regular basis.
“On any given day we help people find housing, sometimes someone needs help applying for job, especially when it is an online application. That can be intimidating for some,” Rose said.
Other PILR services include advocating in court situations, providing help with home cleanup, helping find relief from abusive situations, providing healthy meal plans or simply being a friend.
“You name it, we can probably find a way to help with it,” Rose said.
A list of success stories, with names changed to protect individuals, can be found on PILRs website at www.pilr.org. PILR has offices in Hutchinson and Dodge City, in addition to Pratt at 103 West 2nd Street.