RTC Employment Services client Nick Scarborough recently began working full-time at Mid-States Packaging. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
RTC Employment Services is prepping for National Disability Employment Awareness Month — celebrated in October — by recognizing its client success stories of overcoming obstacles and gaining independence while enjoying a rewarding work environment.
At the same time, the organization wants to highlight its strong local employer partners who have joined them in this mission of encouraging clients’ achievements. These valuable work experiences would not be possible without this supportive backing and flexibility of the employers.
“We have great employer partners who work really well with us,” said Aaron Atherton, RTC Employment Services supervisor.
“Whenever I go for a visit on a job site, it’s so neat to see how much the employers appreciate the clients,” said Nita Wilkinson, RTC Services marketing and development manager. “I’m always hearing that they notice their hard ethic and punctuality that they see in the clients, and they appreciate their dedicated efforts.”
RTC Employment Services offers personalized assistance for getting a job, learning new job duties and keeping a job. The agency provides services for clients in Logan, Champaign, Clark, Hardin and Union counties.
Individuals who have any type of disability or “barrier to employment” can apply for services, with conditions including: carpal tunnel, depression, anxiety, heart or lung problems, diabetes, back problems or any physical, mental or emotional barrier that keeps them from a job or career.
Atherton, who has worked for RTC for six years, said one of his favorite parts of his position is getting to work in that one-on-one role with clients and watching them flourish as they go through the program.
“It’s so great to see the folks who don’t think they’re capable of completing a job to reach their goals and gain a new self-confidence,” the Bellefontaine resident said.
One recent success story shared by Atherton and Wilkinson to highlight National Disability Employment Awareness Month is the journey of area resident Nick Scarborough, who started working at RTC Industries about eight years ago.
“Nick is very intelligent, and at RTC Industries, he was able to work on his soft skills and social skills,” the employment services supervisor said.
After gaining practical skills at RTC Industries, he recently branched out to begin working in the community. Scarborough first was employed at NKP Industries and then he began working at Mid-States Packaging. This spring, he and another peer were offered a full-time position at Mid-States Packaging.
“Nick is really thriving,” Atherton said. “The opportunity to go full-time is a really big deal.
“He showed that he was willing to learn any job at Mid-States Packaging.The company decided to offer Nick a full-time position because of his stellar work for six months.
“It was neat to see, too, at RTC Industries on Nick’s last day, they hosted a clap-out for him to celebrate his new job.”
In addition to NKP Industries and Mid-States Packaging, other local employers who have provided this type of unwavering support to RTC Employment Services with recent job placements include: EWH Spectrum Inc., Scott Family McDonald’s, Kroger, Walmart, Green Hills Community, Homecoming Family Restaurant, Kirkmont Center, Six Hundred Downtown and Old Soul’s Farms.
While client numbers can vary, Atherton said RTC Employment Services typically has between 100-120 individuals on their caseload at any given time.
For individuals who are interested in seeking employment services through RTC, Atherton said there are various ways to apply, including for those with Medicaid or individuals applying through their local county board of developmental disabilities. He also encouraged individuals to call him directly at (937) 651-6309 to begin the process.
To start out, staff will assist the individual with career planning, including discussing hobbies, interests and previous job experiences. They’ll also work to develop their resume, interview skills and job-seeking skills. Next, a job coach comes alongside the clients, providing assistance with obtaining a job and also as individuals begin their new positions.
“The job coach helps to build morale, develop routine and to find new ways to complete tasks that can suit a client’s needs,” Atherton said.
The individualized attention provided by RTC Employment Services has impressed Wilkinson during her time at the agency. She related that she’s talked to clients who have moved into the RTC’s service area so that they can utilize the program, which has built a solid reputation on staff members paying careful attention to the clients’ needs.
“It’s all about the individual — that’s why people are moving here from other counties,” Wilkinson said. “When the rubber hits the road, it’s how we do things around here. We work out solutions to try to meet the person where they’re at and to help them reach their goals and their dreams.”
In addition to the programming for the adult population, RTC Employment Services also has a summertime youth work experience for high school students ages 14-18.
Atherton said job sites are arranged for participants for about four to five weeks, working 12-20 hours a week, with a job coach alongside them the entire time.
“It gives the students the chance to see what it feels like to work and to earn money. It’s really rewarding for them. They also learn how to ask for help and build relationships with co-workers and their supervisors.
“Some students even end up getting hired by the company after graduation. It builds up their references for future jobs as well.”
RTC Services is located at 334 E. Columbus Ave., Bellefontaine, and the main office can be reached at (937) 592-0534. Further details are available at https://www.rtcservices.org/employment-services.