The Arc of Howard County is participating in 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.
Discover Who You Are
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.
Arc Achiever: Robert Bussard
Achieved his dream of independence
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.”
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.
Missed the Chocolate Ball? Check out all the photos here.