Strack & Van Til’s partnership with Opportunity Enterprises and TradeWinds brings benefits for all sides

Strack & Van Til’s partnership with Opportunity Enterprises and TradeWinds brings benefits for all sides

As Northwest Indiana’s local grocer for almost 90 years, Strack & Van Til not only strives to provide the best level of service and product; it also strives to provide the best level of employment. 

Through long-standing relationships with both Opportunity Enterprises and TradeWinds, Strack & Van Til provides dozens of employment and volunteer opportunities to people with disabilities across Northwest Indiana. 

“At Strack & Van Til, we believe in making people’s lives easier. That is something I feel all three organizations do for the communities—making us the perfect partners,” said Efren Garcia, senior human resources manager for Strack & Van Til. 

Kathleen Parks, program director of Opportunity Enterprises, agrees. 

“Opportunity Enterprises works with individuals with varying disabilities– helping them find meaningful employment in the community,” Parks said. “Our mission, vision, and values truly align with those of Strack & Van Til.” 

Clients at both Opportunity Enterprises and TradeWinds can volunteer or be employees at Strack & Van Til. 

“Volunteering is a great way to get a realistic job preview,” said Garcia. “If they like what they are doing and it is a good fit for them and the store, we hire them.”

Whether it is client-facing or behind the scenes, Strack & Van Til’s partnerships with Opportunity Enterprise and TradeWinds allows employees with disabilities to try a job on for size and experience it firsthand. 

“We do a lot of volunteering in their stores,” said Michelle Novak, community liaison for TradeWinds. “This allows us to come in and practice different jobs and get a feel for it.” 

In addition to volunteering, some clients even spend time in different departments before deciding which one would suit them best. 

“We've been blessed to be able to do discovery because we have some individuals who come to us who aren't sure what they want to do or where their gifts and talents lie,” said Parks. “Strack & Van Til has allowed clients to try different jobs right within their space.” 

Additionally, Strack & Van Til will carve out portions of a job’s responsibility, if, for example, an employee can not perform them due to their disability. 

“We may have a client who can do all but one of the tasks that a utility clerk is supposed to do because of a disability,” said Novak. “All Strack & Van Til locations have been great about carving out different tasks within that position to continue to provide employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.”

Both Opportunity Enterprises and TradeWinds credit Strack & Van Til’s commitment to their employees for this program’s success. 

“Making an impact in the communities we serve is what Strack & Van Til strives for,” said Garcia. “There is no better way to do that than by partnering up with organizations that share similar values.”

To learn more about Strack & Van Til, please visit its website at