DARKE COUNTY — A group of more than 30 Greenville Junior High and High School students, school staff, parents, and Darke DD staff participated in Life after High School in May. The day focused on work opportunities in the community and was made possible through partnering efforts of Greenville City Schools, Darke DD Community First and local employers.
The day began at Keller’s Drive-Thru where Christof Keller, vice president of sales, provided an informative tour. Students learned about Keller Feed & Grain and job opportunities at the company’s four locations. Keller shared about the products produced locally by Keller as well as the importance of customer service and convenience at Keller’s Drive-Thru.
Andrea Townsend of Greenville Schools coordinated a pizza lunch in the third-floor conference room of the Greenville Public Library. After lunch, students learned more about community employment through a panel discussion. Representatives on the panel included Tisha McAdams (customer service manager, The Kroger Co.), Wes Garland (courtesy clerk, The Kroger Co.), John Rediger (courtesy clerk, The Kroger Co.), Lindsay Balster (staffing and team retention leader, Cypress Pointe and Village Green Health Campus) and Erika Smith (environmental services, Village Green).
The panel discussion was facilitated by Tamala Marley, employment adviser at Darke DD. Wes, John, and Erika shared their journey to employment as participants in Bridges to Transition Vocational Rehabilitation Public Private Partnership grant. McAdams praised both John and Wes for their positive attitudes and dependability as employees. John shared that early work and volunteer experiences helped prepare him for work. He also encouraged students to take on more responsibility as they transition to adulthood. Balster praised Erika (who has a visual impairment) for providing thorough, quality cleaning and caring service for Village Green residents. Erika, who has worked for Village Green for nearly two years, encouraged students to set and reach for their goals. Erika shared that she had worked in retail and food service before finding the job she currently loves. Balster encouraged students to find out what they enjoy through volunteerism or school activities.
In the afternoon, the group toured Greenville Technology Inc. (GTI). Students saw car parts being assembled, painted, and inspected as they viewed different areas of the plant. Many were seeing GTI for the first time and were interested in the robotics used in the manufacturing processes.
The business tours provided very different employment options. Both tours shared opportunities and employer expectations which relate to the vocational topics covered in the classroom. Many students stated they could see themselves working at one or both of the businesses. Both Keller Feed & Grain and GTI have been supportive of hiring individuals with developmental disabilities and currently have employees who receive services from Darke DD.
The goal of Bridges to Transition is to expand career exploration and employment options for transitional youth (ages 14- 24) with developmental disabilities. Anyone interested in learning more about partnering with the Darke County Board of Developmental Disabilities for employment opportunities, Bridges to Transition, inclusion and/or volunteerism can contact Rodney Willis, Community First Director at 937-459-4626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Darke DD visit the website at www.darkedd.org. Like on Facebook – Darke County Board of Developmental Disabilities.