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Disability Employment Awareness Month observed

COAL GROVE — October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and there are several employers in the Tri-State to celebrate the month.

Tri-State Industries, an adult workshop for individuals with developmental disabilities, is the employer of more than 150 employees. They contract work out to several community organizations, such as.

TSI also has a community employment division, which helps individuals find work in the surrounding community.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month was declared in 1988 by the United States Congress for October to raise awareness of the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities.

Food Fair in South Point is one of those businesses that works with TSI to provide community employment to individuals with disabilities. Bill Sowards and Seth Moore both work part-time at Food Fair as carry-out assistants and shelf stockers.

Kevin Callicoat, Assistant Manager at Food Fair, says that Bill and Seth enjoy working and can’t complain about having them on board.

“They have great work ethics,” said Callicoat. “I know Bill is outstanding at keeping buggies out of the lot and is a great worker. I feel like we’ve helped them be a part of something. They always talk about how much they love their jobs here at Food Fair.”

Earl Waddell is another employee with a disability working as a dishwasher and busboy at Peddlers in Ironton. His duties include cleaning dishes, tables, and being part of the camaraderie of the staff at Peddlers.

“He’s awesome — and that’s what I have to say about Earl,” said Cindy Barnes, manager of Peddlers. “When he first came here he was shy, but has become personable in his time with us. We’re one big happy family and he’s a big part of it.”

Waddell said he likes Peddlers, and would like to get more work under his belt.

“I used to work two jobs, but just work one now. I’d like to get another one,” says Waddell. “Working’s OK. I’d do just about anything when it comes to maintenance.”

Other employers in the community that work with TSI include LS Services in South Point, Ashland Incorporated, South Point Post Office, Taco Bell in Ironton and South Point, Wendy’s in Ironton and Bob Evans in South Point.

The Community Employment Specialist at TSI, Jason Kinder, is always looking for opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities.

“It’s a tough economy, but our guys want to work,” said Kinder. “I hope we can continue to partner with companies in our community and find employment for our clients who might otherwise be out of work if it weren’t for employers that want good help.”

Kinder can be contacted at 740-532-0406 for any organizations that are interested in hiring individuals with disabilities.

Kinder said not only will an employer feel good about hiring a person that overcomes challenges, but they will, more than likely, also get a hard-working employee.