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Employment Program for Adults with Disabilities is a Win-Win for All

UPublish story by Crystal Brodzenski

TOLEDO, OHIO - The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy today announced the official theme for October's National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2012: "A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?" The theme promotes the benefits of a diverse workforce that includes workers with disabilities, who represent a highly skilled talent pool of people that can help employers remain competitive in today's economy. One highly skilled group of workers that fit into this theme are from REM Ohio’s Opportunities Center. These participant employees are commonly referred to as The Crew - Woodworking Team.

Participants of The Crew have the opportunity to increase work skills, earn a paycheck, and share in the pride of creating beautiful products. These quality products include cornhole board sets. All woodworking items are constructed from kiln-dried, quality-grade wood that can be finished in a variety of color selections. You can even opt to pick-up your item at the Toledo site or have your item locally delivered for an additional fee.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau Statistics for June 2012, the vast majority of people with disabilities did not work in 2011. In 2011, only 17.8 percent of persons with a disability were employed. In contrast, the employment-population ratio for persons without a disability was 63.6 percent.

“Hiring workers with special needs improves their quality of life while making a lasting impact in the surrounding community,” said Carla Parker, REM Ohio Executive Director. “Matching applicants who are motivated and ready to work with employers willing to accept them into the workplace is truly a win-win situation for everyone.”

Employers benefit with a diverse workplace and decreased turnover, since workers are already trained and come to the jobsite motivated and ready to work. Additional benefits to the employer also include business growth through productivity, loyalty and a desire to succeed. Some employers may also receive tax benefits for employing workers with disabilities or special needs.

Undoubtedly, many employers may initially worry that employing a worker with a disability may be fraught with pitfalls. In reality the benefit is great for hiring workers with disabilities, since they receive training in the work of their choosing and are focused on career growth. REM job developers work closely to match each applicant with an employer in their home community where they can make a positive contribution and are ready to work.

“Our goal is to obtain as much information as we can about an applicant’s skills and the kind of work they want”, states Carla Parker Executive Director. “Once we have a match between an applicant and employer, we assist the applicant obtaining updated or additional training specific to the needed work tasks for their chosen job.” Job developers also may help with more practical matters such as childcare resources, public and private transportation options, special equipment or adaptions that help them attain work productivity, and general employer expectation as well as key aspects of being a quality employee.

If you are an employer and would like to discuss the possibility of providing employment to an individual with disabilities, please call us at 419.443.0813 or visit our website

If you are interested in enrollment into the Opportunities Center, please call us at 216.642.5339 to schedule a tour or visit our website

In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, REM Ohio would like to recognize all workers who continue to demonstrate excellence in their chosen profession and the employers who mentor and support them throughout the year!


About REM Ohio

REM Ohio provides an array of high-quality services for people with developmental disabilities and other complex conditions throughout the state, with a state headquarters located in Akron, Ohio and additional locations in Akron, Cambridge, Cleveland, Toledo, Columbus, Troy, and Cincinnati. The company currently employs 394 part time and 857 full time employees. The individuals and families supported by REM Ohio have a variety of needs, all of which are met within the communities where they live, work, and play. Because each person’s needs and preferences are different – and often change over time – REM Ohio offers a range of community-based residential and non-residential programs and supports.

REM Ohio is a member of The MENTOR Network, an organization dedicated to providing high-quality, community-based services to adults and children of all abilities. Founded in 1980, The MENTOR Network has evolved from a single residential program to a national network of local human services providers, offering an array of services to adults and children with developmental disabilities, acquired brain injuries or other catastrophic injuries and illnesses; youth with emotional, behavioral and medically complex challenges; and elders in need of home care.

About REM Ohio Opportunities Vocational and Social Center

The REM Ohio Opportunities Vocational and Social Center is located at7844 West Central Avenue, Toledo, Ohio. The 6,000-foot center serves adults living with intellectual and developmental disabilities, offering placement in either the Vocational or Social Curriculum.

The Opportunities Vocational Center offers a variety of education and work experience in small focus groups. The objective and goals are aligned to assist enrolled participants in acquiring needed vocational skills in the pursuit of community employment. In addition work crews, commonly referred to as “The Crew”, provide a real opportunity and paycheck. These work crews complete a number of off-site jobs, which furthers their independence within the local community. Each week, participants invest time and effort to improve work-related skills via classroom instruction, demonstration opportunities, and other employment preparation focused activities.

The Opportunities Social Center, which is conveniently located at the same address, offers a customized itinerary of both community and on-site education and recreation events. Each participant’s unique interests, social networking skills, health and wellness objectives; in addition to community involvement interest is collected. From this information, many special interest groups and clubs are formed. Topics often include interests such as: cooking classes, music therapy groups, wellness and health sessions, computer learning clubs, and many more.

About REM Ohio Ready2Work Program

When life’s challenges make it harder for people to find and keep jobs that are meaningful to them, REM Ohio’s Ready2Work program helps them get the skills and confidence they need to succeed. We help people from all walks of life find and keep the jobs of their choosing, including: mature workers, people with disabilities, workers who are changing industries, people needing a fresh start after incarceration, veterans with injuries or other challenges. Whatever their employment history, we believe that each person we serve deserves work that helps them live life to the fullest.

We help each person create an Individualized Plan for Employment, which considers their career goals, personal preferences and any special needs they have, such as a disability or training they may need. Because each person we serve is unique, service is always tailored to their needs, providing as little or as much help they want.

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