November 2016
        In this issue 
Congratulations, Robert!

Congratulations to Robert Shuemak for his Bronze Award at the Nov. 17 Cincinnati Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Blacksmith Awards! It was a well-deserved honor for his insightful editorial on the controversy surrounding 50 Cent's treatment of a CVG employee with autism.

Award judges said it was a "nice example of using a hot social media/celebrity topic to springboard a useful discussion. Shuemak makes it a 'teaching moment.'"

You can read his editorial on  The Cincinnati Enquirer website.

Businesses share experiences, benefits of hiring people with disabilitiesWorkforceSummitRecap

More than 40 people attended the Nov. 17 Workforce Solutions Summit to learn from businesses about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities.

Mary Stagaman addresses the audience.
"We want to bring more people with disabilities into gainful employment, and this has to be part of our strategy," said Mary Stagaman, senior inclusion adviser for the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. "There are many barriers to employment but that does not mean unemployable."

Stagaman, who provided the keynote speech, said people with disabilities have diverse experiences and businesses can benefit from this pool of talent. 

Fifth Third Bank utilized Project Search, a business-led school-to-work transition program, to find employees with disabilities and expand hiring, said Program Manager Mitch Morgan.  He added employee engagement has improved by having people with disabilities on staff. For example, Morgan said, one year after Fifth Third hired two Project Search graduates, that department had a 30 percent increase in regular attendance at work.

"We pursued learning and best practices, and did our homework for what skills are needed and train people to do that job," he said. "You can have challenges with any employee, and it's important to create a match for the position."

Panelists included Mitch Morgan, Fifth Third Bank; Judge Joseph Kirby, Warren County Probate and Juvenile Court; Diann Shafer and Joe Lautenslager, Kings Island; Paul Meintel, ThyssenKrupp Bilstein.  The County Boards of Developmental Disabilities in Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren counties partnered for this regional event in Blue Ash.

Read more and see pictures from the event on our Employment Spotlight blog.

2016 voter survey

Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) is conducting a survey to gauge the experiences of voters with disabilities in this year's election to evaluate the effectiveness of the Help America Vote Act.  This survey is for voters with disabilities only. It can be completed independently or with assistance. 

Click here to take the survey, which you can do independently or with help from someone if you choose. If you would like a paper survey, Diana Mairose is collecting surveys in Hamilton County. You can  contact her via email or by phone, 513-559-6636.

Responses are due by Jan. 1, 2017.

Community input sought

University of Cincinnati University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UC UCEDD) is asking for input from the community on issues and topics relevant to individuals with developmental disabilities, their family members/caregivers and professionals working with them. The survey has six sections: early childhood, school-age, transition to adult life, family support, community living and employment, and health care and health promotion.

Your input will guide the development of their goals and objectives for the next five years. Click here to take the survey.

Matt with his brother-in-law, nephew and quarterback Andy Dalton.

Matt with his brother-in-law, nephew and running back Giovanni Bernard.
Matt Kayes recently had the experience of a lifetime. Before attending his first Cincinnati Bengals game on Sept. 25, he had a chance to hang out on the field and meet the team.

His brother Michael, whom Matt has always been close to, is the IT Director for the Bengals and wanted to surprise him with something special for his first game. 

So Michael talked to Coach Marvin Lewis, who suggested they come to the practice the day before the game.

"They were so friendly and open with him," his mom Nancy said about the players' interactions with Matt, who uses a communication device. "Matt had the time of his life. The next day at the game, he felt like he really knew the team, which made it a whole lot more fun for him."

Community Safe notifications
Call for ArtistsArtistsSoul
Annual Plan
Public Hearing

Hamilton County DD Services maintains an emergency notification system to communicate quickly with large groups of people and provide information during emergency situations such as programs closed due to winter weather.

If you would like to be part of this system, please contact your adult center or school and provide a current phone number.

We also post emergency closure information on our website, as well as on Facebook and Twitter

Art & Soul is a juried art exhibit, celebrating the creative expressions of artists with developmental disabilities. Historically, the exhibit has been open to artists in 22 counties in southwest Ohio; however, in 2017, artists from all 88 counties in Ohio will be invited to submit art for the 10th annual show.


Entries in a variety of media will be accepted until February 3, 2017.  Professional artists will select the top 40 entries to be included in the exhibit next spring.

Details about the call for entries and exhibit are  available online.

Learn about and provide feedback on the 2017 annual plan for Hamilton County DD Services during a public hearing. It's scheduled for 3:30-5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14, at the Support Center, 1520 Madison Road.

The annual plan outlines the agency's achievement plans for the year and follows the agency's five year strategic plan.

A draft of the plan will be posted on our website. If you cannot attend the hearing but would like to provide comment, contact Dawn Freudenberg via email.

Employment SpotlightEddieES

Ask him about his childhood or his time in school, and Eddie is tight-lipped. He remembers very little of his childhood, and in his own guarded words, "School was school." But ask him about Easterseals Serving Greater Cincinnati, and bursts of laughter punctuate his stories.

Eddie enjoys his job at Kroger.
Eddie exemplifies the path to employment for many young people with disabilities. After graduating high school, he was attracted to the structure and training offered in Easterseals' packaging facility, and he enjoyed the variety of tasks and the people there. After three years, Eddie was ready for the next challenge. With his energetic personality and experience, he was offered a position in Easterseals' Work and Grow program, a blend of paid work and recreational activities in a community setting.

Eddie was assigned to the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, where he performed facility maintenance and inventory. He worked there for five years and laughs as he declares, "I ruled that place. That place was my kingdom."

With eight years of experience in increasingly responsible positions, Eddie was ready to pursue community employment. He was hired as a courtesy clerk at a local Kroger in November 2015, just before the Thanksgiving rush. "It was chaos," he says, "but it's really awesome."

It's been a great fit-the coworkers, the environment, and seeing room for advancement. He has big dreams: not only does he have his eyes on being a cashier, but he is working on two novels and a book of poetry. "I love it," he smiles. "I just love working."

This story was contributed as a guest post by Easterseals Serving Greater Cincinnati for the Hamilton County DD Services' Employment Spotlight blog. Have an employment success story you'd like to share? Contact Lisa Danford via email or at 513-559-4425. 

Superhero dadsSuperheroDad

Bobbie B. Fairfax School recently thanked some very special guys (and some special ladies) in the lives of students. Earlier this month they celebrated Dad's Day superhero style, thanks to the creativity and planning of staff! 

Check out more photos from the celebration on the Fairfax School Facebook page.
Torch Award winners

Stepping Stones was among five winners of the 16th Annual Better Business Bureau Torch Awards for Marketplace Ethics, which recognizes ethical practices in dealing with clients, staff and the community.

"Winning this award validated the efforts of so many who strive to ensure that Stepping Stones adheres to ambitious ethical practices in program delivery and in stewardship of our resources," said Stepping Stones Executive Director Chris Adams.

  • Speak Up-Stay Safe: Community Health and Safety Training. 1-4:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5, at Queensgate offices, 801 W. 8th St. The Center for Disability Empowerment is hosting these trainings to inform and support people being safe and healthy in the community. This session is for parents/caregivers and professionals. Click here for details and registration.
  • Common Threads Network: Understanding STABLE Accounts. 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Dec. 6 at Crossroads Church in Mason, 990 Reading Road. Learn about using an ABLE account for housing, transportation, assistive technology, employment training, education, health and wellness, living expenses, and legal fees. Free for families. Register online or click here for a flier.
  • Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) Community Forum. 5:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6, at the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, 2400 Reading Road. This year's session will discuss implicit bias and break down how our biases can influence our perceptions of safety within our communities. Free to attend with light refreshments provided. Click here for more information.
  • Elf the Musical12:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 12, at the Taft Theater, 317 E. 5th St. downtown. Sensory-friendly performance from the Children's Theatre of Cincinnati. Click here for details and other upcoming sensory-friendly shows. 
  • HCDDS Board Meeting. 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, at the Support Center, 1520 Madison Road.
  • Home Think Tank. 1-3 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14, at the Support Center, 1520 Madison Road. This session's topic is Ohio Shared Living, which provides another option for people with DD to get community support with a live-in caregiver. Local families and individuals will share their experiences, along with more information from HCDDS staff and providers. Free event and no registration is required.
  • Annual Plan public hearing. 3:30-5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14, at the Support Center, 1520 Madison Road. Learn about and provide feedback on the 2017 annual plan for Hamilton County DD Services. A draft of the plan will be posted on our website prior to the hearing.
  • Speak Up-Stay Safe: Community Health and Safety Training. 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 19, at Queensgate offices, 801 W. 8th St. The Center for Disability Empowerment is hosting these trainings to inform and support people being safe and healthy in the community. This session is for people with disabilities. Click here for details and registration.
  • Christmas Day observed. Monday, Dec. 26. All agency buildings and offices closed.
  • New Year's Day observed. Monday, Jan. 2. All agency buildings and offices closed.
  • Building Resilience Family Session. 6:30 - 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9, at Lighthouse Youth Services, 401 E. McMillan St. This session is designed to help young people and their families grow stronger - and build resilience in order to face life stresses and adversity.  Click here to download a flier