Since March 2012, when Governor John Kasich signed the Employment First initiative into law, the culture of Ohio’s developmental disabilities community has shifted significantly toward community-based, integrated employment – and not only in large metropolitan areas. DODD is pleased to spotlight success, and we thank the Darke County Board of DD for sharing this story.
Village Green Healthcare Center in Greenville strongly supports the Employment First initiative in Darke County. After receiving her training through the Bridges to Transition Vocational Rehabilitation Public/Private Partnership grant, Village Green Executive Director Nick Anderson gave Erika Smith an opportunity for employment.
She originally was hired at Village Green in the housekeeping department, as a part-time aide. The healthcare center staff immediately noticed Erika’s dedication – filling in wherever she was needed –her work ethic, and her passion for the job. They decided that she would be a better fit on their full time schedule. With the excellent training and support of Village Green administrative staff and co-workers, Erika began her full time position in the housekeeping department.
Village Green again showed their support for Employment First when hiring Lauren Warner. Lauren is a part-time employee in the dietary department, and has demonstrated the skills and abilities necessary to succeed. When asked what makes Erika and Lauren such great employees, Anderson stated, “Their work ethic, their personalities, and their positive attitudes are contagious. Erika opened a lot of doors and windows for others at Village Green.”
Anderson also has reached out to the Darke County Board’s Community First department when in need of volunteers at Village Green. They note that volunteerism is open to anyone wishing to donate their time, according to Darke County Board staff. Volunteerism can build on experience and help develop social skills in the process – furthering opportunities for individuals to move forward in the spirit of Employment First.
DODD lead person for the Employment First initiative Stacy Collins observes,
We applaud Village Green Healthcare Center for recognizing that Erika and Lauren are skilled, contributing members of the workforce. There is a pool of talented and skilled workers waiting to be hired. Congratulations to Erika and Lauren!”
Employee Erika Smith has been featured in local newspapers during National Disability Employment Awareness Month last October, and in the DODD Pipeline Quarterly, Autumn 2014.