Last year, the Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities (MCBDD) celebrated 50 years of existence. The theme for this monumental occasion was “Always There.” It’s fitting for several reasons. The County Board of DD provides services to people with developmental disabilities from birth through end of life, they are there to guide, advocate, and link those they serve with resources – always, and MCBDD is there when people need them, and they are happy to let them soar and succeed when the need ends.
Jessica Ammons is an example of a person who needed County Board of DD services, and now, she is flying high without their assistance.
Jessica received services from September of 2013 through December of 2017. She was ending her school age years and was looking to transition into the next phase of her life. Her ultimate goal was to work in the community. She started by working at Marca Industries (a service provider for MCBDD) briefly to increase her employable skills like counting money and working on the computer. She also learned other responsibilities that come with employment like speaking to customers, being on time, and being personable and friendly.
She knew she would also need her license so she worked with Opportunities for Ohioans with Developmental Disabilities (OODD) to complete driving school with Capabilities (a service provider for MCBDD) to achieve this goal.
Jessica was checking goal after goal off of her list and was ready to tackle job hunting and community employment. She was paired with Andy Wheeler, job developer at the Marion County Board of DD and the two of them hit the ground running. It was apparent from the beginning that Jessica was not only ready for community employment, but she would be an asset to any employer.
“Andy and I worked on writing a resume, going to different places to job shadow, filling out applications and checking up on them, going to interviews, and practicing mock interviews. It was all very helpful,” Ammons said of the services received from MCBDD.
“Jessica was very eager, energetic, and ready for employment. She took feedback to heart and really did a great job when we went out to check on applications and interviewed,” Wheeler said.
At the end of the day, Jessica was hired at Dollar General in Caledonia. She has been there for two years now and really enjoys the work and the people. The County Board of DD stayed on in a job training capacity for a little while and eventually, she was doing so well, that service was no longer needed. It was the last link Jessica had to the Marion County Board of DD. At 22 years old, she was ready to officially be on her own.
“I stock shelves, help customers, and work the register. I like doing different things and I like the people – the customers and my co-workers,” Ammons said.
Opal Pope is the Store Manager and Jessica’s supervisor. As she spoke about Jessica as an employee, she seemed almost like a proud parent.
“Jessica is a model employee. She is reliable, happy, and has good customer service,” Opal says proudly of Jessica’s skills. There is a definite affection between the two and their chemistry is apparent to those who frequent the Dollar General. It was a family atmosphere.
Opal recalls that when Jessica was first learning the register, she was going a little slower than customers were used to. “I pulled her off for a week or so, and then I thought, ‘You know what? People need to learn some patience and compassion.’” So Jessica began to work the register again and now does so regularly. She got faster, customers seemed to be more patient, and Opal learned that it’s important to give her employees the chance to grow, fail, and then succeed.
Opal believes in growing her employees’ skills and has been a great supervisor to Jessica. “She’s so nice and helpful. She has taught me a lot,” Jessica said about her boss.
It appears that giving people a chance, helping them grow, and watching them gain full independence is pretty rewarding for everyone involved.
Win. Win. Win.