By Tricia Perry
Community Education Specialist, Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Like many young adults, Marlena Timmerman, 24, enjoys shopping. Handbags are her favorite item for which to hunt. So when she received her first big paycheck from D&D Industrial Services in Boardman, she knew just what she wanted – a bag by designer Dooney & Bourke. It arrived in the mail just before Christmas.
Buying accessories, clothes and other items is something most of us take for granted, but not Marlena, who was born with Down syndrome. As a person with a disability, she had received services through the Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities. But she never had a job of her own. Her mother, Sandee, says she was willing to pay for the bag. But Marlena was determined to earn the money for it. MCBDD matched Marlena with a job coach and she was hired by D&D last fall.
“She loves the job!” Sandee Timmerman says. “It is all about the job for her now. It is her priority.”
D&D has been in business for 30 years, providing uniforms, linens, towels and other products for a wide range of industries.
To offset staffing shortages caused by the pandemic, owner Joe Buchanan hired five people with disabilities. He gave each a chance – and he has not been disappointed.
“Employees with disabilities concentrate on what they are doing and they do it well,” Buchanan says.
Employers should consider the following:
• 62% of disabled individuals remain in a job for three years or more.
• Individuals with disabilities take less sick time than those who do not have disabilities.
• 90% of workers with disabilities perform equal to or better than nondisabled workers.
• 87% of all adults in the U.S. prefer to spend money at businesses that hire those with disabilities.
• Hiring those with disabilities adds to the diversity of the workplace.
• Disabled workers come to work on time, and when scheduled.
The Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities provides opportunities for individuals that maximize their quality of life. The board handles the cases of 1,500 disabled individuals and their families in Mahoning County. The board also partners with provider agencies to support individuals with job training, job development and ultimately, finding a job.
George Gabriel supervises the employment efforts of MCBDD.
“Employers are showing a lot more flexibility with who they are looking for. And they are reaching out to us,” he says. “The staffing shortage has had a ripple effect and they are looking toward people with disabilities.”
That means people like Marlena can not only find a job, they can find the right jobs. Marlena recently asked her boss at D&D Industries to put her on the schedule five days a week instead of four. The boss said yes. He knows she will show up on time and when scheduled.
For more information about hiring individuals with a disability, call Gabriel at MCBDD at 330 718 4815.
Pictured: Marlena Timmerman was hired last fall by D&D Industrial Services in Boardman.