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PROFILES: How Kate’s ability to grow has helped her career, and the health of her coworkers

Kate in her role as a maintenance worker.

Within nine years, Kate Rybarczyk’s work ethic took her from Custodian to Plant Maintenance Manager.

“As a mechanic I strengthened my problem-solving skills,” shared Kate from the Westerly Wastewater Treatment Plant. “When something wasn’t working, we’d troubleshoot to determine how we could fix it, rebuild it, or modify it.”

Kate also worked to enhance her communications skills through District self-improvement courses, and utilized the Tuition Assistance Program to get an associate’s degree from Tri-C. These opportunities led to her most recent management role.

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Outside of work, Kate’s interests include landscaping, gardening, health and fitness, and winemaking. She is well-versed in all these topics. When asked for a health tip, Kate warned against processed food. “Everyone thinks they’re convenient, but studies are showing negative long-term health effects.”

Kate’s passion for health and fitness led to her involvement in the Sewer District’s Wellness program. Alongside co-worker Mitch Falatach, Kate built a community garden at Westerly visible from the employee lunchroom nearby. This year, the garden has a variety of leafy greens, green peppers, hot and sweet peppers, and tomatoes.

“The garden makes [being] healthy convenient. If the operators are here at night, on the weekend, or someone is working overtime, they can go outside and grab what they need for a salad, instead of hitting the vending machine.”

In addition to the Wellness Program, Kate is involved in the Veteran’s Employee Resource Group, and she is Westerly’s lead for Charity Choice and the Women’s Employee Resource Group.

Kate, right, says these garden boxes she built at Westerly helped make being healthy more convenient.

– Story and photos by Yolanda Kelly