Dickinson Center held disability awareness month event

Marsha Dippold, the director of employment support services at Dickinson Center, presents at the National Disability Employment Awareness Month celebration.

RIDGWAY — Dickinson Center’s Employment Support Services hosted its sixth annual National Disability Employment Awareness Month celebration on Nov. 6 at its headquarters in Ridgway.

The DCI team shared the 2019 theme from the U.S. Department of Labor, “The Right Talent, Right Now,” to build awareness about their consumers that have made strides toward reaching vocational goals.

DCI’s event was opened by Cathleen Walters, director of the DCI Adult Habilitation Center, followed by speeches from Marsha Dippold, director of E.S.S., and several employees with the consumers they serve.

Dippold asked the 50 attendees to consider, “What is the right season to hire disabled individuals? When is the right time to recognize the skills and abilities that disabled individuals bring to the table? When is the right time for the unemployment/underemployment rate to be comparable to non-disabled workers? When will programs like this that have a proven track record of obvious success, get the desperately needed funding restored by the government? When is the right time? I say the right time is right now because the right talent is right now!”

E.S.S. strives to find jobs for people with disabilities that are best suited to the individual’s strengths in Elk, Cameron, McKean and Potter counties. Individuals are provided assistance through the entire job search process, from constructing resumes, practicing interview skills, and applying for jobs. The support continues after being hired until the employee, employer, and employment specialist are all confident that the job can be performed independently.

“We needed the right talent, right now when I worked as a manager in retail,” said Bryan Litton program supervisor. “But the employer needs to be the right employer, too. That’s why I wish to thank the partnering organizations that we work with every day.”

Litton is a job coach for one of the presenters, Michelle, who originally came from New York City. After years of living with sensory issues, anxiety disorders and daily panic attacks in the city, she moved to Elk County where her behavioral concerns and clinical depression subsided.

“I found an amazing job coach at Dickinson Center and he helped me find a job to fit my needs,” stated Michelle. “There’s always hope for everyone — let’s emphasize the ability in the term disability!”

Prior to closing the celebration, the first DCI Employment Support Services Award was presented to the Holiday Inn Express for being an excellent example of an employer that hires and develops disabled workers in the community.