By Beverly Keller
For Cassie Elvin and crew at Starlight, the drive to help others who want to help themselves has never been as strong as it is today.
“We believe everyone is capable of working in the community if they choose to do so,” Elvin, CEO of the group shared. Recently, a client, Jeff Bevan, shared that he was hoping for a change from his janitorial work. Specifically, he wanted a new job and specifically stated he wanted to work at Giant Eagle in Dover. He touched base with Starlight’s Employment Department’s Life Coach Mike Elvin and Manager Denise Salvaggio about his desire to work.
“We knew he was motivated, enthusiastic and willing to work hard,” Salvaggio explained. Through a program known as Opportunities for Ohioans (ODO), services and job supports for successful employment were provided for Bevan. Bevan was ecstatic over the ways things worked out and praised the help of both Elvin and Salvaggio in the process of becoming part of the team at Giant Eagle.
“Thank you for everything you have done for me,” he said. October celebrates the employment of those with disabilities as part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Many think that just because someone suffers from a disability that it bars them from employment as a productive citizen.
However, with advancements in technology and a better understanding of various limitations, employment is possible. The month is a celebration of the contributions of workers like Bevan and others like him across the United States.
Bevan’s story is just one of the success stories from the walls of SEI. There are many more from people of all ages. Starlight’s Employment Department works under their CARF Accreditation and Employment First Certification to assist students and adults with disabilities to gain community employment.
Services from Starlight include: Job Readiness Training Career Planning and Exploration Work Adjustment and Work Experiences Soft Skills Training Community-Based Assessments Job Seeking Skills Training On-the-Job supports Follow Along Services Starlight provides employers an opportunity to become aware of an under-developed piece of the employee pool. The men and women who are a part of the program bring skills and training to the table. “These people are part of a really untapped and valuable workforce than can be utilized to not only help build a business but to help it grow,” Elvin shared.
For Kaleidoscope that has stores in both Sugarcreek and New Philadelphia, the work of employees placed through Starlight’s programs have been nothing short of fantastic. The store employs the services of both Jeremy Gerber and Rusty Parsons in the store located within the New Towne Mall in New Philadelphia.
Elvin noted that the owners of Kaleidoscope have seen the benefits of working with SEI. By utilizing the services of Starlight’s Employment Life Coaches, both Parsons and Gerber have received significant on-the-job training as well as follow-up services when needed. “Starlight is here to help anyone with a disability that qualifies to receive services,” Elvin shared.
For more information about Starlight’s Employment Services, call Salvaggio at 330-339-2020.