Partnerships put people to work

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Messenger photos by Kristy Zurbrick

Josh Miller (left), a MATCO enrollee, thanks John Martin, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, for taking part in Madison County’s celebration of Disability Employment Awareness Month. 

 
Andy Doty (right) of Buckeye Fulfillment praises Adam Campbell (left) for his eagerness to learn new job skills. Campbell is a MATCO enrollee. 

“MATCO is about finding your place in the community,” said MATCO Services CEO Van Viney on Oct. 30 at a reception celebrating Disability Employment Awareness Month.

As members of the local work force and contributors to the local economy, MATCO enrollees enjoy what all employed people have the chance to enjoy—a paycheck, certainly, but also pride in being pro-ductive and involved in meaningful work, said guest speaker John Martin, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Retar-dation and Developmental Disabilities.

Since 1973, MATCO has been providing training and employment opportunities to Madison County residents with disa-bilities. Some of those jobs are in workshop settings on MATCO property. Some are at private businesses, government offices or non-profit organizations.

The partnerships MATCO has forged with the business community have yielded many success stories, some of which were highlighted on Oct. 30.

One of MATCO’s newest partners is Buckeye Fulfillment, a division of the Ohio Department of Development that processes and ships Ohio tourism information. The operation was formerly set up at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution. In February, it moved to MATCO’s newest facility at 204 Maple St. in London.

Buckeye Fulfillment’s Andy Doty praised the team from MATCO as hard workers who are well mannered and work well together. They are Adam Campbell, Mary Davis, Shawn Engle and Jay Large. Doty made special mention of Campbell, who is always looking to learn new skills.

The conversations, Doty said, always start with Campbell asking him, “Hey, boss, can I try that?” When Doty says “yes,” Campbell always says “cool.” As a result, Campbell has added greatly to his repertoire of skills. In fact, he is practicing maneuverability to attain certification to operate the forklift at Buckeye Fulfillment. He has already taken a class at Tolles Career and Technical Center and passed the written exam.

“Now he’s eyeing the computers,” Doty said of Campbell’s next workplace adventure.

While Buckeye Fulfillment is a new MATCO partner, Stanley Electric in London has been part of the program for years. MATCO enrollees who work for Stanley turn out 3,200 parts a day. Among those enrollees is Bob Penwell, whose job is to keep the assembly line area clean.

“Bob is my buddy. He is a very integral part of our business,” said Mary Hopkins of Stanley Electric. “We look forward to him coming in every day and just being a part of us.”

Penwell has been part of Stanley for almost 11 years. He recently completed a forklift and tugger certification course and “passed with flying colors,” Hopkins said.

Penwell’s mother, Alice, appreciates the opportunities the job affords her son.

“It gives a place for Bob to go every day, and he earns his own way,” she said.

Stanley Mills knows well the impact a job can have on all facets of a person’s life. As a MATCO enrollee, Mills works for Alpha, a company that maintains the rest area on both sides of Route 56 just off of I-70. The job allowed Mills to secure custody of his son and an apartment.

“If it wasn’t for Chad, I wouldn’t have my son right now and a place to live,” he said. Chad Aleshire of Alpha is Mills’ supervisor.

The motto, “Our Community, Our Jobs,” represents MATCO’s wholistic approach to connecting enrollees with the world around them and vice-versa.

That type of connection was first made in 1959 when a group of parents decided to do something about the lack of learning opportunities for their children with disabilities. The result was Fairhaven School in London.

Parents rallied again in the late 1960s to find opportunities for their children once they passed school age. As a result, the first adult class for people with disabilities was held in 1970 at Fairhaven. A separate workshop was established in Lafayette a few years later and was named the Madison Adult Training Center (MATCO). In 1979, Tom Manning became the first MATCO enrollee to be placed in a job outside the workshop. Manning retired from McDonald’s last year after 27 years of employment. MATCO built its Route 38 facility in 1984.

To learn more about MATCO Services and its community employment connec-tion, call Priscilla McKenzie, 740-852-7054.

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