OOD Works: Budget Invests in Individuals with Disabilities; DSW Job Readiness Program/Project SEARCH; Grand Opening of Bobcat Way Cafe; Creating Opportunities for those with Disabilities; April is National Social Security Month

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April 5, 2019

Budget Invests in Individuals with Disabilities


A variety of individuals were present at the budget testimony to show their support. From left: Jonathan Clancy, Disability Claims Adjudicator; Pat Thaker, Disability Claims Adjudicator; Assistant Director Williamson; Director Miller; Vanessa Elliott, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor; and Scott Jolly, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor.


Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) Director Kevin Miller testified on Governor Mike DeWine's proposed budget before the House Finance Subcommittee on Health and Human Services on April 1, 2019. 


Governor DeWine’s proposed budget for fiscal years 2020-2021 supports our mission to provide individuals with disabilities opportunities to achieve quality employment, independence, and disability determination outcomes. Demonstrating a strong commitment to investing in Ohioans with disabilities, ensuring they are not left behind, the proposed budget represents a state investment of $17.4 million in General Revenue Funds in the first year and $18.9 million in the second (an eight percent increase each year) of the biennium.


For each dollar of state investment, OOD draws down an additional $3.69 in federal vocational rehabilitation grant funds to support our efforts in Ohio.  The budget will strengthen our current programs by developing new patterns of service to ensure we are meeting the employment needs of all Ohioans with disabilities. OOD is prioritizing these key areas: 



Work is critical to an individual’s recovery. Governor DeWine’s budget supports the agency’s efforts to address Ohio's mental health and substance use disorder public health crisis. OOD will replicate a successful model established in partnership with the Butler County Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Services Board and Common Pleas Judge Keith Spaeth’s drug court. In this model, OOD embeds a vocational rehabilitation counselor as an active member of the drug court team to ensure the individual gets a job.


High School Students with Disabilities 

This budget expands an existing partnership between OOD and the Ohio Department of Education, the Ohio Transition Support Partnership, which allows students with disabilities to engage in career exploration and skill development at a younger age. OOD counselors educate parents, teachers, and students with disabilities on the importance of work. Together they develop strategies and provide services such as work experiences, job placement, and on the job supports to ensure students secure employment or transition to post-secondary education after graduation.


College Students with Disabilities

This budget also invests in funding for direct services that will ensure individuals with disabilities working toward a credential or college degree earn higher wages and meet the demands of tomorrow’s labor market. This will be accomplished through an innovative partnership between OOD, Ohio’s state college and university system, and Ohio businesses. These funds will provide access to services such as job placement, technology, and internships that will level the playing field for approximately 1,500 students annually.


Disability Inclusion

Governor DeWine’s Executive Order (2019-03D) establishes Ohio as a Disability Inclusion State and Model Employer of Individuals with Disabilities, requiring all state agencies to increase recruitment, hiring and advancement of people with disabilities. To support this effort, OOD will develop an internship program for students and adults with disabilities to assist them in gaining access to state government employment. OOD will fund approximately 40 internship opportunities annually for individuals with disabilities served by OOD, in order to create a strong recruitment pipeline for permanent employment.


Investment in the Local Business Community

Collectively these initiatives will allow OOD to serve approximately 4,000 more individuals with disabilities throughout Ohio. OOD counselors will purchase approximately $10 million more in services from more than 360 service provider partners throughout the state. It also will expand the number of businesses OOD assists in recruiting new employees and strengthening diversity and inclusion in the workplace.


You can watch a video of the full testimony on the Ohio Channel here or read it here.

Grand Opening of Bobcat Way Cafe


Paul Brothers is joined by his wife Melinda at the grand opening of Bobcat Way Cafe.


Paul Brothers owned and operated his own construction company for 20 years. After losing his vision, Paul contacted Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities about his options. He wanted to work, but needed a new opportunity. The OOD Business Enterprise Program provided training and support to help Paul open a coffee shop at the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine-Dublin Campus. Watch a video about this here.

DSW Job Readiness Program/Project SEARCH



The DSW Job Readiness Program/Project SEARCH helps individuals with disabilities learn job skills, gain internship experience and get permanent jobs. On March 26, 2019, interns with the program and participating organizations (DSW, OOD, Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, Goodwill Columbus, Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities and Arc Industries) showcased their work to Governor DeWine. Check out DSW Project SEARCH Tour, Ohioans with Disabilities Thrive at DSW, and a video from the Office of Governor Mike DeWine here.

Creating Opportunities for those with Disabilities


Joshua Meyers is all smiles as he sorts supplies into bags on the warehouse floor.


Concordance Healthcare Solutions, a leading distributor of medical supplies and healthcare equipment, is also a leader, employing those in their community with disabilities. After seeing an online video about people with disabilities working in the private sector, employee, Arrin Allen took the idea to Human Resources Manager, Sara DeMonte. DeMonte went immediately to Operations Managers to see how they might integrate those with disabilities into their workforce. Tours were set up for Opportunity Center staff and potential employees, and interviews conducted. Concordance currently has six employees with disabilities working in their distribution center.

“The associates that have been placed here from the Opportunity Center have been nothing but amazing,” said Patrick Hoepf, Concordance Operations Manager. “Their tenacity, quality of work and attitude, far outweigh any limitations they may possess. They are vital contributors in the warehouse.”

The Concordance team of production helpers include Lynn Dostel, Matthew Spencer, Joshua Meyers, John “Eric” Brostman and Karen Hunter.

Lynn Dostel worked for a workshop for many years, but felt limited by the number of hours she could work. Since working at Concordance, she gladly works up to five days a week, and the staff boasts about how clean she keeps the warehouse.

Matthew Spencer had worked in the community in the past, but without success. Spencer received job coaching and retention services through OOD that have supported his ongoing employment at Concordance.

Joshua Meyers has 12 bumpy years of work experience leading up to Concordance. Accommodations such as a jig board (that helps him keep track of parts), along with a co-worker working beside him, has helped to keep Meyers on track with all tasks. Meyers loves his job, works 16 hours a week at $13.30 an hour, and is eligible for profit-sharing.

Jon “Eric” Brostman also loves his job at a warehouse, where he works every day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and “has never been happier.” He is responsible for sweeping, dusting and using the pallet lift.

Karen Hunter was looking for a new job opportunity. Concordance rose to the occasion, providing her with the support and appreciation she was looking for, consistent hours, and transportation to work on days with inclement weather.

“Our employees have embraced them all, appreciate the work they do and are always evaluating other beneficial ways they can participate here at Concordance,” added Patrick Hoepf. “It is an idea we are now promoting to our other warehouses across the country.”


Job well done to Audrey Mueller, OOD Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor.

April is National Social Security Month



The Division of Disability Determination at OOD, in agreement with the Social Security Administration (SSA), determines medical eligibility for Ohioans who apply for Social Security disability benefits. DDD is federally regulated and receives 100 percent of its funding from SSA. Under SSA, disability is based on an individual's inability to work. To apply for benefits or for more information, visit a local SSA office, check out the SSA disability program website or call SSA at (800) 772-1213 or (800) 325-0778 TTY.


Did you know April is National Social Security Month? It's a great time to be aware of the time-saving features of the my Social Security account. With your personal my Social Security account, you can:

• Check the status of your pending Social Security application

• Sign up for direct deposit with Social Security

• Update your address 

• Get a benefit verification letter online (to provide proof of benefits)

• And more!

Visit www.ssa.gov/myaccount.

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