Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities provides training for those with special needs
STEUBENVILLE — Special needs individuals now have an advantage to prepare for the work force through a new venture between the Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities and its Community Employment Services program.
The CES took over operations at the School of Bright Promise cafeteria this month and employment specialists Renee Pastre and Angela Goodrich will use the space to provide training opportunities for individuals with disabilities in a full commercial kitchen. Participants will undergo on-site assessments and hone their skills by performing an array of tasks they may be required to do in the restaurant industry.
“This will be our own assessment site,” Pastre explained. “We can assess and train individuals interested in working in the dish room, line service, food preparation and janitorial work.”
Pastre said the move fortuitous since cafeteria supervisor Bonnie Jenkins retired in December following more than two decades of service. She added that special needs adults presently work part-time in the cafeteria under the auspices of JCBDD and the new plan will ensure even more individuals are fully prepared to find gainful employment in the future. Pastre said they also hope to engage older students to give one hour a day for one to two days a week to gain work experience.
“Our goal is to work with transition students from area schools, as well as any referrals we receive from Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities. We will set this up to have as a training facility to better prepare them when they are out in the community in the workforce.”
The employees will also become familiar with industrial equipment so they may work with similar items in actual job settings, such as restaurants. The cafeteria workers will not only be assessed on their abilities but will earn a minimum-wage paycheck for performing their duties. Additionally, Pastre and Goodrich will alternate roles as cafeteria supervisor while also continuing to work with other individuals at community businesses.
“We’re excited to be a part of the school and working with students and hope it will be the beginning of something new and exciting,” Pastre commented.
JCBDD Superintendent Michael Zinno is excited about the new collaborative effort.
“I am proud of our CES Department for stepping forward with this idea. It should prove to be beneficial not only for our program, but for those we serve.” Zinno commented. “Ultimately, we hope to provide a great work experience so that we can place individuals in the restaurant industry. In a tight labor market, it should provide our community with a much-needed labor pool.”
For information about the CES program, call (740) 266-3840, extensions 2104 or 2105.