Now that Katie Howell is the new director of retail operations at Sunflower Diversified Services, she is overseeing three separate entities within the non-profit agency.
These entities are The UPS Store, Westside Market and Beautiful Minds Art Studio. Each is located in the building at 5523 10th.
“This facility is a one-stop shop,” Howell said. “We can do anything from shipping packages and notarizing documents, to offering snacks, household items and best of all, the creations of Sunflower’s art students.”
The three ventures are designed to support the people with special needs that Sunflower serves. They provide job opportunities, while proceeds are earmarked for programs and services.
“Sunflower does so much for children and adults with delays and disabilities,” Howell commented. “I am gratified to be part of an agency that focuses on clients as they fulfill their dreams and live to their fullest potential.
“It is awesome that we provide opportunities for clients to work with people in the community and express their artistic creativity,” she continued. “There are so many aspects to Sunflower, which means so many options for clients. This great network of people comes together with a common philosophy – clients come first.”
Currently, three clients work in the stores, while up to six participate in Beautiful Minds Art Studio.
Howell started her work with Sunflower when she became a UPS Store associate; she was soon promoted to assistant manager. She was named to her new position late last year.
“It has been awesome to see us grow and blossom over the past year,” she commented.
Howell earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Brigham Young University Idaho in 2014 and master’s in general psychology at California State University Stanislaus in 2019.
She is a general psychology adjunct instructor at Barton Community College. Previous employers include Toys R Us and Walt Disney World in Orlando. Most recently, Howell taught basic English to children in China via the internet.
Howell was born and raised in Ceres, Calif., and now lives in Great Bend where it is “awesome to be near my niece and nephews to watch them grow up.”
Jon Prescott, Sunflower chief executive officer, noted Howell came to the non-profit agency late in 2019 to help operate Westside Market and The UPS Store.
“Having Katie as a founding member of our team gave her the experience to step up to her new position when Debbie McCormick accepted a new career opportunity,” Prescott said. “This allowed for a smooth transition.
“The UPS Store, Westside Market and Beautiful Minds Art Studio create multiple job opportunities for clients in varied vocational settings. Katie has a heart for working with clients and will find the right jobs for the right people.”
Sunflower serves infants, toddlers and adults in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties. It is in its 55th year.