Jobs for those with disabilities focus of appreciation dinner

LISBON — Continuing its focus on finding jobs in the community for those with developmental disabilities, the Columbiana County Board of Developmental Disabilities is to host its second annual Employment Appreciation Dinner, announced Bill Devon, CCBDD superintendent.

Presentations and musical entertainment by individuals with disabilities will highlight the evening.

“I want people to know that our disability is just part of us, not all of us,” said Logan Detwiler, keynote speaker for the dinner.

Some 65 people, including current and prospective employers and employees, along with staff, guests, clients and family members, are expected at the event, planned for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, at the Columbiana County Career and Technical Center.

Detwiler, 23, is on the autism spectrum. He is a self-advocate and trainer for Project STIR, a program of the Medina County Board of Developmental Disabilities. STIR (Steps Towards Independence & Responsibility) training is by and for people with disabilities, designed to provide tools to help them advocate for themselves, connect with other advocates, and gain leadership experience that can lead to community employment.

Detwiler delivered a speech at the Ohio Statehouse at the March 2018 Developmental Disabilities Advocacy and Awareness Day. In that speech he described his accomplishments, goals, employment and volunteer efforts in his community.

He said his favorite volunteer activity is speaking to elementary school students through the “People Together” program. “What I love most about this is we get the opportunity to point out that we are just like them. We like the same hobbies, same movies, and we like to hang out with our friends and family.”

He tells students “it’s important to be kind and respectful to your peers, whether they have a disability or not.”

Providing entertainment for the evening will be Michael Newman of Salem, a singer, musician and theater performer in his home Salem area.

Accompanied on the keyboard by Peggy Elliott, Newman will sing tunes from Broadway shows, including “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” from “Oklahoma,” “Some Enchanted Evening” from “South Pacific,” “Bring Him Home” from “Les Miserables,” “Get Me to the Church on Time” from “My Fair Lady,” “Put on a Happy Face” from “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Sunrise, Sunset” from “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Newman, 40, holds a bachelor’s in music from Mt. Union College. He sometimes performs with his identical twin brother, Matt Newman, band director at Beaver Local High School.

Mike Newman is vice president of the Salem Music Study Club, a member of Ohio and National Federated Music Clubs. He plays trumpet for the Quaker City Band, Salem Community Band, and Youngstown Area Community Concert Band, and sings with The Sound Bites quartet, Tapestries of Ohio Madrigal Singers, Village Singers, Kent State Communiversity Choir, and Salem First Presbyterian Church Choir.

“Mike’s disability is that he has an auditory processing disorder and is autistic,” said his mother, Ruth Newman. “This did not keep him from singing or getting a music degree. He is very determined.”

Mike said, “I want people to know that having any kind of disability does not define who you are or what you can do.”

Several other local individuals with disabilities will present five-minute talks to offer their personal thoughts and experiences.

Also on the agenda is a new professionally produced video designed to help the public to understand recent changes in the way CCBDD delivers services to its client population.

The main focus of the dinner, said Shirley Bowald, is to say thank you to businesses for employing those with disabilities and to allow prospective employers and employees to get together.

“We hope a lot of networking will be going on,” said Bowald, job development manager for CCBDD’s Reach 4 More Program.