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Employment of individuals with developmental disabilities beneficial to Lake County

By Kristi Garabrandt, The News-Herald
Published Saturday, October 7, 2017

Tonya Lewis, Joe Barzal, Dan Merkowitz and Danielle Schein stand in the kitchen at Manhattan Deli Bar and Grille in Willoughby laughing and talking with friends while they wash dishes.

The four are all employed through Community Employment Services, a Division of Deepwood Industries. CES has worked with over 60 employers in Lake County helping over 150 people with developmental disabilities find employment.

“Lake County Board of DD/Deepwood knows that inclusion drives innovations for individuals with disabilities to be gainfully employed in the community,” according to Lynnmarie Landwei-Phillips, director of marketing for Lake County Board of DD/Deepwood. “Celebrating more than 70 years of inclusion in Lake County and Ohio, it is important to reflect on the important role that different perspectives play in the workforce success.”

October is Developmental Disabilities Employment month and the theme for the state this year is focused on inclusion.


According to Phillip’s email which detailed the history, in the 1960s those who had disabilities were often excluded from society, sent off to be warehoused in large institutions and provided with minimal care and even less training.

The sheltered industries, which started with volunteers using donated resources, formed in 1961 to provide vocational opportunities to these individuals. 

The organization soon expanded and grew to a point where they were working on and completing contracts for not only local Lake County businesses, but also for the U.S. Defense Department. 

In 1965, after moving into the Broadmoor School building, additional skills such a housekeeping and daily living tasks were learned, while they worked making bows, duck decoys, desk sets and collated mailings. 

In 1974, they expanded again with the addition of the Vocational Guidance Center, which now allowed them to offer employment opportunities like commercial printing, auto detailing, laundry, food service and greenhouse services. These opportunities allowed the employees to gain skills to move into jobs within the community.

The Rehabilitation Services Commission of Ohio collaborated with Lake County Board of DD in 1985 to obtain grant money which allowed the CES, formerly known as Creative Learning Employment Opportunities, to be formed.

Individuals from the sheltered industries would be placed by CLEO and RSC into community based jobs.

“The idea was that individuals would learn the necessary skills to work independently in the community and move on to competitive employment,” Phillip said. “CLEO now called Community Employment Services has established a positive reputation in the community and dispelled many misconceptions about hiring individuals with disabilities.”

Many CSE employees work in kitchens doing food prep, dish washing, and holding positions such as hostesses and bussers. They also provide laundry and housekeeping services, do assembly/piecework, retail/stocking, clerical work and more.

Wadi Ina, owner of Manhattan Deli Bar and Grille, 34601 Ridge Road, has employed individuals from CES for over 25 years.

Lewis, who has worked at the deli for approximately seven years really enjoys her job as a dishwasher and the people she works with. She works five days a week earning a paycheck which she said she spends on groceries and movie nights. 

Barzal has been at the deli for about five years and is working on saving enough money to go to Walt Disney World. He said his favorite part of the job is talking to his friends while he works. 

Jamie Barker, the job coach who works with and trains the employees at the at the deli, said the social interactions they experience is a big benefit along with the money they earn that allows them to go out and participate in activities such as going to the movies and karaoke. 

The cooks, managers, and waitresses that are here, are like a family and they care about them beyond words,” Barker said. “So it’s like a family social. They like to come to work because they feel loved here.” 

The job opportunities also help grant them a sense of independence. 

“They have to get onto to the bus, independently get ready in the morning and when they come here they know their jobs, they have been trained on their jobs,” Barker said. “For instance, I can leave them and they know what to do, if I’m not there supervising every second of every day they know what to do, and they are proud of that.”

“It’s been great having dependable employees, they show up every day. ...It’s a win-win situation, and we

This article has been reproduced for educational purposes only and appeared in The News-Herald. The original story can be found at:

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