Reach 4 More program helps developmentally disabled find work
LISBON — People with developmental disabilities can make great employees.
That’s the message that the Reach 4 More program, which has opened a new office on State Route 45 in Lisbon, is taking to local employers.
“Our mission is to show area business managers the many benefits of hiring our individuals, including ongoing support, possible transportation options, and often substantial tax incentives. We make the process easier,” said Shirley Bowald, Reach 4 More employment development manager.
The new office is located at 7716 state Route 45, Lisbon. Staff may be contacted at 330.870.4272 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reach 4 More is a program of the Columbiana County Board of Developmental Disabilities (CCBDD).
Bowald and Paul Anthony, job developer, have for some months been meeting privately with potential employers and those already hiring CCBDD clients. Now they are “taking the show on the road,” making presentations to area civic and business groups including Chambers of Commerce.
“The concept has been readily accepted by the employers we’ve talked to. Most of them say, ‘Tell me more,'” said Anthony.
Bowald holds a master’s degree in counseling and has long experience in administering vocational programs. Anthony is a retiree with a lifetime of experience in business administration, law enforcement and security management. Anthony said he was initially exposed to the capabilities of workers with disabilities when he worked on the management teams of two Fortune 500 CEOs.
Bowald said a number of area businesses have been employing CCBDD clients for many years. What’s new is that the Reach 4 More program brings a new emphasis and organization to the process.
“We have 11 people at Mountaineer Park working in housekeeping and food service,” said Anthony. “Giant Eagle supermarkets in Salem and Calcutta, Pizza Hut in Columbiana and East Liverpool, Calcutta Health Care, the Hot Dog Shoppe in East Liverpool and dozens of other businesses can attest to the work ethic and value of employees with disabilities.”
For more than two years, Don Chestnut of C&C Garage in Lisbon has employed a woman in her 50s with developmental disabilities to clean his fleet of school buses.
“I wish I had more like her,” said Chestnut. “She stays busy. She needs very little supervision. She never takes days off. If I have to call her and tell her we are down today for some reason, she is disappointed.”
He recently hired another CCBDD client, a young man, to work in his car detailing operation. He said the tax incentives for his business have been significant.
Bowald said an important part of the Reach 4 More program is to help clients and their families understand the benefits of holding a job, and how they can ease the transition into employment. She said staff is “very sensitive” to how working could impact client benefits from SSI or SSDI programs, and take steps to avoid problems.
“Our people want to go to work. They make good, dedicated employees and work really hard,” said Bowald.