Rising to the Challenge: Meet Sara Rodriguez

By Perry Luksin 06/27/2022
Rising to the Challenge: Meet Sara Rodriguez

Receiving a U.S. military challenge coin is a big deal. These medallions — of various shapes and styles — are typically awarded by the offices of top military leaders and smaller military units to honor significant achievements or mark special occasions. Sara Rodriguez, who works for Global Connections to Employment, Inc. (GCE) as a custodial team member at Fort Knox in Kentucky, has earned four challenge coins during the last two years. The challenge coins were given to her in recognition of her work and dedication.

“Getting my latest challenge coin was a complete surprise,” said Sara, “and I was very happy to receive it.”

“Sara has been a great blessing to our office, and she does a phenomenal job of keeping things clean,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Spencer Hayman, who serves as the V Corps Facility Manager at Fort Knox. “She’s greatly appreciated around here. I cannot say enough positive things about her work.”

Sara has played an essential part in GCE’s custodial team at the sprawling Army installation for the last four years. In addition to creating positive relationships among her colleagues and the customers, she has an established reputation as someone who regularly goes above and beyond and always seems to have a smile on her face. “She taught me what a smile and a good attitude could do to improve a place,” said Susan McConaha, Sara’s supervisor. “Sara makes me smile every time I see her. She’s welcoming and has a knack for bringing a smile to everyone. She has a great attitude about her work.”

After four years in her role, Sara continues to be motivated by her customers and looks forward to seeing their smiles every day. She would recommend that others consider working for GCE, a place that’s provided her with the opportunity to learn and grow in her job. GCE has an established history as one of the largest nonprofit agencies in the country employing people with disabilities — they currently provide employment and training to over 930 people with disabilities. Since 2005, GCE’s broader custodial team at Fort Knox has been responsible for cleaning over 3 million square feet on the 108,955-acre military installation. Sara is assigned to clean and maintain the appearance of the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, which provides legal assistance to Fort Knox’s military personnel and their families.

Sara first heard about GCE from her doctor. She works for GCE through the AbilityOne® Program, one of the largest sources of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities. Before joining GCE, a nonprofit agency in the SourceAmerica® network, she worked at a nursing home and a post office.

When not at Fort Knox, Sara enjoys relaxing at home, eating, watching TV, and speaking to her family on the phone. Before starting with GCE, she had never set foot on a military base but quickly adapted to the base’s culture. Originally from Guatemala, Sara has been in the U.S. for 30 years and is looking forward to returning there one day. In the meantime, she expects to finish out her career at Fort Knox, remaining with her current team until she is ready to retire. “It’s a great place to be. It’s a nice place to work — everything — from the managers to the customers. I love it. There’s so much kindness and respect,” said Sara. “When I retire, I’ll have so many beautiful memories.”

To learn more about SourceAmerica and our network of nonprofit agencies, email CustomerService@SourceAmerica.org.