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Two Chapel Haven community members have only been on the job a short time at Home Depot stores and both have already won big awards.

Mike Akersten wins a Homer award at the North Haven Home Depot.

Thumbs up to Mike Akersten, voted best “operational associate “ for the month through the Homer award by his coworkers at Home Depot in North Haven, and Cailean Oerkvitz, who also won a Homer award for handling a stressful shift solo in the electrical department at the Hamden Home Depot.

The Homer award is a big deal because it generates from co-workers who are impressed with an employee’s performance.

Both Mike and Cailean are two of the eight adults from Chapel Haven Schleifer Center who are part of Ken’s Krew, a nationally acclaimed training program founded by Home Depot. Ken’s Krew was brought to Chapel Haven Schleifer Center by Danielle Chiaraluce and her staff at Chapel Haven’s Center for Employment and Service Opportunities. We are proud to be the first in the state!

Ken’s Krew enables individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to successfully enter the workforce. The program has been in existence for 20 years and is in nine states.

Mike Akersten is a lot associate at the North Haven Home Depot. His job includes monitoring the parking lot, collecting carriages and assisting customers. He has been on the job at Home Depot since December 2018.

“Mike hasn’t been in the job all that long, so it’s really great” that he received the award, said Dan Coca-Ducach, Vocational Coordinator for Ken’s Krew.

Cailean won a Homer Award for handling a shift on his own at the Home Depot in Hamden.

Cailean just completed eight weeks of training at the Hamden Home Depot, in the electrical department, which is a busy department. Co-worker Birgit was inspired to nominate Cailean for the award after two co-workers called out on a busy Saturday and Cailean was left alone to handle the shift.

She wrote in the award that Cailean impressed her for “keeping calm and helping customers while being the only associate in the department.”

“She was so impressed with his ability to keep his cool in a stressful situation and just assist one customer at a time,” Dan said.

Mike and Cailean both were given patches to wear on their aprons for exemplifying the values of Home Depot. We are proud!

Chapel Haven has 8 adults who are enrolled in Ken’s Krew. Congrats to:
Megan Faitell
Mike Akersten
Cailean Oerkvitz
Heather Chisholm
John Cranmer
Andy Gardner
Robert Persson
Justin Knoth

Chapel Haven has openings coming up for Ken’s Krew. Any interested adults at Chapel Haven, or their parents, can contact Kimberly Freeman at for details.