The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 21, 2013

Achievement award leaves Mankato man 'speechless'

By Amanda Dyslin
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — Eugen Kavan always wanted to work in customer service to help people find solutions to their problems.

He’s had that chance the past few years working at three different Mankato businesses, Buffalo Wild Wings, McDonald’s and Best Buy.

Kavan, 24, has also been with Lifeworks for about five years. The nonprofit helps people with disabilities become more integrated into the community.

And in that time, Ted Ornas, who helps clients find employment, said he’s seen Kavan grow a great deal. That’s why he was so thrilled to learn that Kavan had won one of Lifeworks’ big annual awards.

Lifeworks gives an award every year called the Personal Achievement Award, open to any of the 600-700 Lifeworks clients in Minnesota. As the title suggests, the award goes to someone who has made great strides in personal development and achievement.

Ornas said Lifeworks received 140 nominations for the award. And the committee chose Kavan to be the 2013 recipient.

“(I was) speechless,” Kavan said.

He’ll receive the award at the end of April at a ceremony. More than 900 people attended last year’s awards ceremony, Ornas said.

“I’m happy and nervous,” he said.

Ornas said Kavan has “just blossomed” in the time he’s known him. And in the past year, especially, Kavan has been thriving since he started working at Best Buy, Ornas said.

Kavan’s first job was at McDonald’s, he said. Then came Buffalo Wild Wings, where he started by working at special events, such as festivals.

“I wouldn’t say he’s a workaholic, but he loves to work,” Ornas said. “All of his jobs have helped him progress.”

Ornas and Kavan said both jobs have been good experiences. But since he’s been at Best Buy, Ornas said, he’s been spending a great deal of time on the floor with customers, helping them learn about products or helping them to place orders.

“It’s been kind of his dream job,” Ornas said.

Kavan was hired at Best Buy to do seasonal work, but he did so well, the company kept him on, Ornas said. The company also sent him for four days of training at a Twin Cities campus.

“And they don’t do that with everybody,” Ornas said.