The Resource Exchange is no stranger to being recognized as a best workplace in Colorado Springs — the local nonprofit has been honored for five consecutive years in The Gazette’s Best Workplaces program, including three times ranking in the top three extra large employers.

The organization employs more than 400 to support more than 9,000 residents of El Paso, Park, Pueblo and Teller counties with intellectual and physical disabilities. Physical, occupational and speech therapists, nutritionists, developmental interventionists, family and individual counselors and service coordinators provide assistance such as early intervention for children up to three years old and information for older children, teens, adults, seniors and their families on available services and how to access them.

Applicants want to work for The Resource Exchange not because of the pay or benefits, but instead are drawn by the clients and teamwork among their coworkers to meet the needs of those they serve, said Colleen Batchelor, the nonprofit’s CEO. She has spent more than 35 years supporting people with disabilities and their families, including the past 13 years with The Resource Exchange. She was promoted to the organization’s top job in 2020.

“People come to work here because they care about people. They have a passion of wanting to improve the lives of those we serve and that comes across in (employee) engagement and staff morale,” Batchelor said. “The workload is really hard, but the team around you cares as much as you do, and you are in a place where you can make a difference.”

Much of the work done by staff focuses on coordinating care for clients, including long-term care, residential and employment support, activities and transportation and other help getting out in the community. All services are funded by Medicaid — Resource Exchange administers all waivers for the federal-state program — and are designed to help disabled persons remain their families and in the community.

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The Resource Exchange puts a lot of effort into reinforcing its workplace culture, including a weekly email Batchelor sends to the entire staff that reinforces the organization’s mission of advocating for independence and inclusion and its values of putting clients first, having a collaborative spirit and holding themselves accountable. Resource Exchange also is sponsoring a documentary on the lives of those who provide care to the organization’s clients.

Batchelor said compassion fatigue, which became a major issue during the COVID-19 pandemic, remains an issue with the nonprofit’s employees, especially with inflation increasing the cost of almost everything and the threat of a recession looming. She said Resource Exchange tries to keep pay at market rates but pay hasn’t kept up with inflation, so staff still get offers from other employers. Staff stay for the organization’s culture and flexible scheduling, she said.

While pay hasn’t kept up with inflation, benefits are comparable with many major employers, including health, dental and vision coverage, matching for employee contributions to a retirement account and a generous paid time off policy.

The Resource Exchange was started in 1964 and four years later was serving 85 children and adults with a $75,000 annual budget that supported one full-time coordinator, a secretary and two bus drivers. The nonprofit has grown to a budget of more than $25 million. The organization will have to compete for the first time to win renewal of its Medicaid contract with a request for proposals expected by year’s end and a contract award next spring.

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