Mark Plutschak steps into Outlook Nebraska, tapping his cane along the floor as he moves. He hears voices and greets a couple of co-workers as he passes them, making his way toward his office. Mark finds his closed door with his cane and takes out his keys. He knows his calendar is full, but he likes it that way.
“Helping others is a priority for me,” Mark, director of human resources, said. “I understand what Outlook associates are going through because I have been there. Whatever it is, we will work through it together.
Mark’s life changed forever in 1977 when a workplace accident – a chemical burn to his eyes – took most of his eye sight. After a 13-year manufacturing career, he left his company to go to college.
“I understand the hardships and challenges people with disabilities face because I am one of them,” said Mark. “I know what it feels like to be viewed differently and to be judged because of the way I look. I want to be treated like everyone else, no special favors, no sympathy, just give me the opportunity. I use different methods to accomplish my goals, but I will prevail.”
In 2005, after obtaining his bachelors degree, Mark joined the Outlook team as a finisher in the production facility. His desire to help others and to make a difference quickly advanced him into the human resources department. He became director of the department in 2015. In this role, he introduces people to the organization, some of whom are starting their first job after losing their vision.
The dedication to help everyone succeed is reflected in Mark’s accomplishments. In 2015, he collaborated with National Industries for the Blind (NIB) to create the Emerging Professionals Program, which has been implemented by other NIB-associated agencies. Mark is a graduate of Leadership Omaha Class 36 and of NIB’s Business Management Training program.
“My purpose is to serve others. If I can succeed, I know the person sitting across from me can achieve their goals, and I will do what I can to make them successful,” Mark said.
The chemical explosion at 18 left Mark with limited vision in one eye and no vision in the other. It left physical scars and forever changed the way he viewed life. His life changed again last year when the remaining vision faded, for good this time.
“My remaining vision was gone on a Thursday night. I entered Outlook’s doors Monday morning, ready to move forward,” said Mark. “I keep going because of my faith, my family, and because I still have work to do. I am learning how to better use the technology and no longer use paper, but my mission remains the same: to help others.”
Mark’s passion for what he does and his dedication to helping others made it easy for Outlook Nebraska to nominate him for the 2019 NIB Milton J. Samuelson Career Achievement Award. This award recognizes a blind individual who has shown remarkable levels of leadership, while employed at an NIB-associated agency.
“Mark is the most inspiring person I know, and his goal of helping others comes through in every interaction at Outlook,” said Eric Stueckrath, chief executive officer for Outlook Nebraska. “Whether he is meeting with a new applicant or discussing something with a colleague, he encourages everyone to be their best. He has shaped Outlook into the organization it is today. I am honored to call Mark a friend."
“I am honored and humbled to be recognized by Outlook Nebraska for doing what comes natural to me: serving others. I am blessed to be employed at an organization focusing on people and helping others,” Mark said.