Webinar: Paving the way to employment

Guided Group Discovery (GGD) is a universal design approach used within workforce development systems to enable youth and adults with disabilities, and others who faces barriers to employment, to secure and maintain employment.

These strategies serve as an alternative assessment tool that identifies the strengths and ideal conditions of employment for job seekers with and without disabilities, resulting in a “blueprint” to guide job development.

A webinar hosted by the LEAD Center is set for 3 p.m. Monday, June 26. Click here for details and registration information.

Participants will learn about Guided Group Discovery pilot projects and how to implement these practices through cross-system partnerships.


Joining passion and community with a job he loves

Today is National Beer Day (yes, that’s a thing), and it’s the perfect day to share this new video from MadTree Brewing and Starfire.

It features Michael, who loves beer, and has been working at MadTree since 2013. He’s a vital part of the company and considered part of the family. Watch part one and part two of the video series below.

Love of Beer Builds Community

A Seat at the Table for Everyone

A different approach to finding a job

For people with disabilities, the unemployment rate is more than double that of people without disabilities. And statistics show people with disabilities participate in the labor force at a much lower rate than the general population.

But for many in Cincinnati, the goal of working in the community is becoming a reality, thanks to Starfire’s approach that rethinks how people get jobs.

Starfire is … building people’s social connections. Landing a job often comes down to “who you know,” but the average person with developmental disabilities only has a network of 2 community relationships (unpaid, non-family, people without disabilities). At Starfire, 92% of the jobs attained with our support come directly from social connections, so we know our approach is working, even though it makes us a little different. We don’t invest people’s time and efforts on repetitive “job training readiness” such as mock interviews, resume building, or piecemeal work. Instead, we help people be “known” for their gifts and passions, so that when they apply for a job, their proven abilities are at the forefront of employer’s minds.

Becky at SAF Holland

That’s led to many success stories like Becky, who works at SAF Holland. She turned to Starfire to help her build confidence and get out in the workforce. It includes people like Molly, who works at Neyra. Her supervisor has said Molly is “always so considerate and she always remembers little tidbits about people. She’s able to help get a lot of the administrative duties out of the way. So it’s helped free up a lot of their time to make our process in finances more efficient.”

Starfire’s approach has also helped Mike, who works at Contemporary Cabinetry East, and Craig, who works at Kinetic Vision. Learn more on Starfire’s Cincibility blog. 

Guest post: Setting goals and taking on more responsibility

Contributed by Easterseals Serving Greater Cincinnati

Ask him about his childhood or his time in school, and Eddie is tight-lipped. He remembers very little of his childhood, and in his own guarded words, “School was school.” But ask him about Easter Seals TriState, and bursts of laughter punctuate his stories.

eddie kroger easter sealsEddie exemplifies the path to employment for many young people with disabilities. After graduating high school, he was attracted to the structure and training offered in Easter Seals’ packaging facility, and he enjoyed the variety of tasks and the people there. After three years, Eddie was ready for the next challenge. With his energetic personality and experience, he was offered a position in Easter Seals’ Work and Grow program, a blend of paid work and recreational activities in a community setting.

Eddie was assigned to the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, where he performed facility maintenance and inventory. He worked there for five years and laughs as he declares, “I ruled that place. That place was my kingdom.”

With eight years of experience in increasingly responsible positions, Eddie was ready to pursue community employment. He was hired as a Courtesy Clerk at a local Kroger in November 2015, just before the Thanksgiving rush. “It was chaos,” he says, “but it’s really awesome.”

It’s been a great fit—the coworkers, the environment, and seeing room for advancement. He has big dreams: not only does he have his eyes on being a cashier, but he is working on two novels and a book of poetry. “I love it,” he smiles. “I just love working.”

This story was part of an Easterseals series for National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which is celebrated every October.

His job helps him thrive in the community

John Roach will proudly tell you he has been working with a lot of ‘great people’ since 1981, when he stopped spending his days in a workshop and began his employment at the family-owned George H. Rohde & Son Funeral Home in Mt. Lookout.

14362551_10154541067972264_1839497348818817827_o“I’m not sure if I interviewed anybody other than John – I might have – but it was the best thing that ever happened to me,” said Steve Rohde, the president and owner of the funeral home. “John was very nice – a happy guy. He’s taken a lot of pressure off things because of his reliability.”

The business recently won the Employer Excellence Award, which recognizes leaders who provide employment opportunities for the people Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled (LADD) serves.

“I sweep, mop, wash cars and do everything the right way,” Roach said.

Faith Maynard, who has worked with Roach for years through LADD, has seen him thrive as a result of being part of the Rohde’s business.

In addition to providing Roach with steady work, Steve Rohde and his staff consider him a valued part of their lives. They include him in social functions, take care to remind him of his medical appointments, and even provided financial assistance during a challenging time.

“The funeral home has been a blessing to John in many ways in it has lent stability to his life, given him a stable source of income and it has helped bridge the gap between family members and care providers,” she said.

Over the years, Maynard has seen Roach lose many stakeholders in his life, but Rohde and his staff have stepped up as advocates. They have played a key role in educating the entire Mt. Lookout community about Roach’s strengths, and, as a result, other businesses have hired him for temporary needs.

“I am like a brother for him and Steve is like a brother for me,” Roach said. “I won’t quit my job for nothing. I like where I am now.”

Story adapted from LADD website recognizing the Taking Flight Awards ceremony recipients.

Upcoming events to build inclusive workplaces

The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce is hosting a new event as part of their Diverse By Design initiative. It begins at noon on Monday, Sept. 26.

Topics include:

  • ROI of employing people with disabilities and veterans
  • Understanding employer tax incentives
  • Local business success stories
  • Workplace accomodation and fostering a culture of openness and comfort

Paul Daughtery, an award-winning sports journalist and author, is the keynote speaker. His book, “An Uncomplicated Life,” is about his daughter Jillian, who has Down syndrome. Jillian has been successfully employed in the community for years and wrote a guest post for our blog earlier this year.

Registration and details on the Chamber’s website.

Also, on Sept. 27, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in partnership with the National Disability Mentoring Coalition, is hosting a celebration to kick off National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).

The celebration, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., highlights USDA’s new Disability Mentoring Model as a means to support increased employment and advancement of individuals with disabilities in the federal government and provides the framework for agencies and disability organizations to collaborate and share resources. Hear from top leaders about how the federal government is working to increase hiring, advancement, and retention of people with disabilities, and learn about a new multi-sector disability mentoring model.

#InclusionWorks: Mentoring to and through Employment is being held in Washington D.C., but can be watched live via the web. More information and registration details available online.

VIDEO: Encouraging employers to hire people with DD

Many organizations in Cincinnati are encouraging local businesses to consider hiring adults with developmental disabilities, and the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati (DSAGC) is no different. A recently released video highlights the abilities people with DD make in the local workforce.

“We really want to see ourselves as catalysts to encourage employers … to open their minds to the possibility of hiring adults with Down syndrome and really give them a chance,” said Jim Hudson, executive director of DSAGC.