John Joyce, Employment Navigator for Pickaway County Board of DD
Many times we encounter people around us, but we don’t know of the good things they do in and for our community. This monthly column will spotlight people of all abilities who are our friends and neighbors. It will shed some light on the positive and kind achievements we are making as a community.
As the Employment Navigator for the Pickaway County Board for the Developmentally Disabled, John Joyce is not only busy coordinating job opportunities between prospective employers and employees, he’s also busy having discussions with our community. John’s goal is to not only help people get hired in community jobs, but to also educate our community on why it’s important to hire people with disabilities.
“It is important for our businesses to hire people with disabilities for a number of reasons. The main reason being that just because a person has a disability their ability to work is not affected. The statistics tell us that employees with a disability are actually more reliable and more productive than their peers that do not have a disability”, stated Joyce.
“If you talk to any of our local businesses who have hired people living with disabilities, you will hear them talk about improvement in morale due to the positive outlook that these employees have and spread throughout the workplace”, he continued.
Businesses can also benefit by tax breaks that are offered. For example, if a business facility or building is not ADA compliant and has a disabled employee, there are grants available to update the building/facility.
When asking John to share a success story, he has trouble picking just one, but he did share with me the story of Michael Edwards. Michael had just graduated from high school two years ago with the goal to work one day a week. One day a week is what everyone thought he could handle or potential employers would agree to. After Michael completed the Adult Project SEARCH program, (which is a 6-month employment training program that was held at Scioto Downs) he obtained valuable skills. Scioto Downs was so impressed with his work ethic they offered him a job. He still is employed there with minimal on-the-job supports and has a great relationship with his co-workers.
Having a diverse workforce is a big part of inclusion within our community. It brings to light the fact that everyone has different skills and talents and when we blend them together, businesses have stronger customer service and real connections with their customers and in return have an improved bottom line to show for it.
When I asked John what inclusion means to him, he had this to share: “From an employment standpoint, to me inclusion is looking beyond somebodies physical/mental/emotional limitations and/or appearance and finding out truly who somebody is and what they are capable of. To many times people are overlooked and not given an opportunity simply based on their appearance. When it comes to people with disabilities I would say this happens more often than not. IF a person with a disability is able to get a job interview they are often times discredited as a viable candidate as soon as they walk into the room. With that being said, there are some great companies like Aramark, Healthcare Logistics, Roosters, etc. that have chosen to have an inclusive work environment and have gained some amazing employees because of it.”
Heather Foll grew up just outside of Kingston and is an alumnus of Logan Elm High School. She is a current student of psychology at Ohio Christian University. Heather is the Community Connections Coordinator with the Pickaway County DD Board. She serves on the Pickaway County Special Olympics Board, is a member of the Circleville Noon Rotary, a member of the 2018 Pickaway County Fellows and enjoys spending her time writing and being a book worm.