The Arc of Howard County is participatingin National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an annual awareness campaign that takes place each October. The purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. This year’s theme is “America’s Workforce: Empowering All”
The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month traces back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
“Americans of all abilities must have access to good, safe jobs,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “Smart employers know that including different perspectives in problem-solving situations leads to better solutions. Hiring employees with diverse abilities strengthens their business, increases competition and drives innovation.”
Employers and employees in all industries can learn more about how to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month and ways they can promote its messages — during October and throughout the year — by visiting www.dol.gov/ndeam.
Achieved his dream of an independent, fulfilling life
Dan Maletz’s desire was to always be independent and the 32 year-old has been working toward that goal since he was a young man. Dan, who entered The Arc of Howard County’s residential program in 2013, first lived at Fairhaven in Jessup before moving to Dorsey Search in 2015. “I advocate for myself,” he said. “I posted on Facebook and said I wanted to move. I told my parents I liked where I was living (Fairhaven), but it was too remote.”
Being the active guy that he is, Dan wanted to have access to places and activities, so moving to Leyden Way in Dorsey Search gave him that opportunity. “I am an independent guy! I wanted to be able to walk to places; go to the shopping center; ride the bus,” he explained. Dan’s zest for independent living has blossomed in other areas of his life too! “I really like astronomy and going to star parties,” he said. “I enjoy going out to dinner and going to movies and hanging out with my girlfriend, Margaret.” Dan is very much looking forward to a trip he is taking to Texas in late April. He will go with Margaret to Fort Worth to participate in a very special family event. “We are going to see Margaret’s cousin’s son receive his very first communion,” he said.
Dan, who currently works at Harris Teeter in Fulton, is also supported by Humanim during the day. When he is at Humanim he has more opportunities to do some of the things that are important to him. “I really like my program at Humanim,” he said. “I have favorite things to do at Humanim. I like to do math problems and interact with the people.” Dan still has some very specific goals he would like to accomplish going forward which are very similar to what any of us would want for our lives. “I have a driver’s license so one day I would like to own my own car…and I would really like to have a place of my own too!”
At Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (JHAPL), there are many types of employment one can experience. For Hannah Saltzman, her employment of choice is to work as an administrative assistant in the Space division at JHAPL.
Hannah has been employed with JHAPL for two years and her story is one of hard work, persistence and determination. Hannah, who receives supported employment services from The Arc, is a 20 hour per week employee and she couldn’t be happier! “Hannah is upbeat, positive and full of energy and loves to take on new tasks and challenges that come her way,” said Barbara Moyer, Project SEARCH Howard Manager. Moyer, who has worked with Hannah for more than three years, described Hannah as highly motivated.
When Hannah first started with JHAPL, she worked two days a week and also worked as a front-end courtesy clerk for Giant Foods in Clarksville. Hannah started working for Giant in 2011. Over the last two years as Hannah has gained more responsibilities, it was her decision to focus on the job she always wanted. “The most amazing thing about Hannah is she had a vision,” Moyer explained. “Her vision for herself was to do administrative work and her vision for herself came to fruition.”
Not only is Hannah motivated in her professional life, but she is very keen on creating social opportunities for herself and her friends. “Hannah is in the process of developing a social group that will meet once a month and have a game night/dinner night,” Moyer said. “She is very active and really enjoys doing a variety of things.” Hannah’s personal life is evidence of her desire to remain active and be involved. Hannah can be found each and every Sunday attending church with her family. She also sings in the choir and helps out in the nursery when needed and tries to keep active with regular participation in Special Olympics.
There are many things that Bonnie Block enjoys doing in her life. She is a social butterfly and a very accomplished self-advocate who appreciates her independence and the many friends she has in the community. The 66 year old has been in the residential program at The Arc of Howard County since 1976. Bonnie, who currently receives services through Supported Retirement, worked for many years at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. “I liked working when I worked,” she said. “I really like doing all the things I do now and seeing the people I see where I go.”
Since retiring, Bonnie spends her time pursuing a multitude of interests. Her friend, Annette Hinkle described Bonnie as a very active person who has many likes. “Bonnie likes to go to dinners, the Thrift store, and to the movies,” Hinkle said. “She has had several roles in local theatre and she loves singing in the choir at her church. It’s something, people know her everywhere we go!”
Just last year, Bonnie, who has been taking singing lessons for quite some time made a CD entitled, “Songs from The Heart”. The CD was a great collaboration between Bonnie and her singing instructor at Howard Community College. “Rita Mayhew, Bonnie’s music teacher at Howard Community College, helped her record her CD at the studio at HCC. Bill Murphy who is another music instructor at HCC played the piano on the CD,” explained Lia Arbaugh, Bonnie’s Advocate. Bonnie said that she is proud of her CD and the fact that she was able to sing her favorite songs made it even better. “I love singing and I really like singing these songs,” Bonnie said. “Going to The Chapel, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, It’s My Party…they are great songs!”
At 21, Olmer Gutierrez has had the good fortune of discovering he has abilities and talents that make him a valuable employee.
When Olmer transitioned from school, he joined the 2016 class of Project SEARCH Howard County. While developing important employment skills through internships in Howard County government, he also acquired personal insight into his own preferences and aspirations. Olmer found that while he likes being independent, he is very social and enjoys being part of a team.
Paid employment at Mobern Lighting in Jessup also revealed that Olmer has a talent for the pace and duties of manufacturing and liked being a member of the group of assembly workers manufacturing fluorescent and HID lighting at the state-of-the-art facility.
What everyone around Olmer has discovered is that he is a dependable, reliable, efficient and productive worker. He has a new network of friends and a new sense of independence. All he needed was the opportunity to discover who he was and what he could do. Olmer is a positive role model for other youth as he is demonstrates that success is possible.
Olmer Gutierrez was presented the Individual Achievement Award in the Youth category by Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman and the Howard County Commission on Disability issues at the Commission’s 2016 annual awards program.
If you ever met Robert Bussard, you would remember. His warm smile and friendly manner are undeniable. Robert Bussard, who is 83 years old, has been supported by The Arc of Howard County since 1994. Robert came to The Arc through a referral from the Department of Social Services after being released from the Howard County General Hospital for an illness that same year. Robert’s brother, 77 year-old Charles, is also supported by The Arc through residential services. The two brothers share a very special bond including their Arc of Howard County history.
Robert is a perfect example of a senior who has been able to age in place because of the support he receives from The Arc. Robert lives in his childhood home on Marriottsville Road with his cat, Precious. Brenda Sackandy, Director of Community and Family Services for The Arc of Howard County said, “Robert is very connected to his church and his friends in the community who provide a level of natural supports. He works at McDonald’s at Long Gate Shopping Center in Ellicott City two days a week!” Sackandy, who also served as Robert’s first coordinator, described him as “quite connected.” She said his community ties run deep – “Whether he is going to the Signature Salon in Ellicott City for a free haircut or to the local dry cleaner where he receives a discounted rate or the Double T Diner, (once the Forest Diner); everyone knows Robert,” she said. His activities in addition to his work at McDonald’s, make for a very full week. Robert even finds time for visits to the Ellicott City 50+ Center, participating two days a week including bowling on Fridays! He has a way of having people stay involved in his life. “It really is something with Robert,” Sackandy said. “When I go out with him in the community, I see how many people there are who know him. He really has a way of staying connected.”
MACS Awardee and The Arc Maryland Volunteer of the Year
We are so happy to announce that Mike Lewis was submitted and recognized for The Arc Maryland Volunteer of the Year Award for 2017 and the MACS Volunteer Leader Award!
Mike Lewis is a multi-faceted volunteer. He serves as a member of The Arc of Howard County’s Board of Directors, a member of both the Resource Development and Employment Advisory committees, chairs the annual golf tournament and serves as a monitor for the Quality Assurance Department. He is also an employer partner, donor and sponsor of fundraising events. The Arc of Howard County recognized Mike Lewis as their Volunteer of the Year at our 2016 Celebration of Excellence awards ceremony.
He maintains a consistent presence on both the Resource Development and Employment Advisory committees and is never short on ideas of how to help us reach our goals. After beginning to chair the annual golf tournament for four years, the annual event has grown in success each year. As a member of the Employment Advisory committee, he is a champion of employer development and speaks very passionately about the benefits of being an employer partner to The Arc. As a volunteer monitor, Mike is exemplary in his volunteer work. He volunteers 2-3 times a month, more than the expected commitment. He does an extraordinary job of sensitively assessing the needs of each individual he visits, ensuring happiness and a fully developed home life, says Keith Gray, former QA specialist. Mike turns in detailed reports on time and is flexible. He also has been involved in the training and recruitment of new monitors.
Mike Lewis’ strong commitment on behalf of The Arc and the people we support helps us succeed in many ways. He really throws his “heart” into whatever task he takes on. We are lucky to have him.
Achieved his dream of a rewarding and meaningful life
For 45 year-old Geoff Savage, there is never a dull moment. Geoff, who has worked full-time for Goddard Space Flight Center for 15 years, is constantly on the go! Since 2000, Geoff has been receiving services through The Arc of Howard County’s supported employment and residential programs. Geoff is extremely independent and really enjoys all aspects of his janitorial job at Goddard. “I love it there!” he said. “I’m surrounded by scientists, astronomers and engineers. There are great conversations…I really love it!” Geoff’s work certainly keeps him busy, but he always finds time to do the things he loves in his after hours and on weekends. “I love sports, especially going to sporting events,” he said. I have been to Raven’s games, Caps games, and I have seen the Orioles and the Nationals play too!”
Geoff has been recognized in past years for his successful self-advocacy. He is a member of People Power, a self advocacy group that is comprised of people with disabilities who work to develop self-determination, express and voice concerns on various issues in the community and teach the community about self-advocacy. As a self-advocate, Geoff has been able to participate in conferences and conventions that raise awareness about people with disabilities and community inclusion. He attended the 2015 Arc US Convention in Indianapolis and the 2016 Orlando convention. While in Indianapolis, Geoff was able to attend a Colts game at Lucas Oil Stadium. “I was able to get a ticket and the hotel was so close to the stadium. I got to see the Colts play the Jaguars,” he said. Lia Arbaugh, who is Geoff’s Advocate at The Arc said Geoff is very independent. “Geoff is so energetic. He is always doing something. He loves his sports, loves to bowl and he loves to cook,” she said.
Congratulations to the class of 2017 Project SEARCH Howard!
The 2017 Class of Project SEARCH Howard celebrated the end of the school year on June 9th at the George Howard Building. All twelve interns completed their internships in the Howard County Government offices: Josh Adelegan, William Alexion, Keith Cranska, Meaghan Hyer, Chaz Kurtz, Matthew Martin-Swint, Kamau Mbugua, Zachary McKay, Colin Pierre, Becca Quintern, Joshua Sites and Julian Than.
Among those at the June 9th Celebration were Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, Maryland State Secretary of Disabilities Carol A. Beatty, Interim Superintendent of Howard County Public Schools Dr. Michael J. Martirano, Executive Director of The Arc of Howard County Cindy Parr, Executive Director of Special Education and Student Services Nancy FitzGerald, Judith Pattik Regional Director for Southern Maryland DDA, and County Council members Dr. Calvin Ball and Mary Kay Sigaty.
The Project SEARCH Howard initiative supports employment skills and opportunities for transitioning youth with disabilities. A partnership between The Arc of Howard County, the Howard County Government, the Howard County Public School System, DORS, and the Howard County Autism Society, Project SEARCH Howard is now starting its fourth year in Howard County! Program Manager Barbara Moyer was happy to announce that 9 of the 12 interns in the class of 2017 have already received job placements in the community!
For more information about hiring an intern from the Project SEARCH Howard Program, please contact Barbara Moyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.