The Richland County Commissioners have proclaimed October as Disability Employment Awareness Month. The purpose of the month is to educate the public about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. This year’s theme is “#InclusionWorks.”

In 2015, only 17.5 percent of people with disabilities were employed, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. “Some of our nation’s most successful companies make inclusion a core value; they profit by having a wider variety of tools to confront challenges,” points out Amanda South, Richland Newhope’s Director of Adult Services. “Richland Newhope and Richland Newhope Industries, Inc. work with local school districts and businesses to support transitioning youth and adults to be prepared and successful in their job.”

Accepting the commissioners’ proclamation on Tuesday were Sean Conrad, who works at the City Garden Café, Sean Stichler, who is employed at CyclePoint and the City Garden Café., and Frank Soria, who works at the 4th St. facility of Richland Newhope Industries, Inc. (RNI). The City Garden Café and CyclePoint, an electronic recycling business, are operated by RNI. Conrad, Stichler, and Soria were RNI’s 2015 Employees of the Year. They will be featured on billboards throughout Mansfield during October.

As part of the local observance of Disability Employment Awareness Month, RNI will hold its annual Employer Recognition Breakfast during which time businesses in the community that employ individuals with developmental disabilities as well as those that contract with RNI will be honored. The 2016 Employers of the Year and Employees of the Year will also be recognized.

The reservation-only breakfast will be held Thurs., Oct. 27, at 7:30 a.m. at the Holiday Inn in Mansfield. Several community employers are expected to give testimonials about the benefits of employing people with disabilities. In addition, radio spots encouraging employers to hire people with disabilities will also air on several location stations.

Established in 1963, Richland Newhope Industries, Inc. provides services and supports for community employment, industrial services at three production sites, personal and social services, recreational services, and options for seniors. Richland Newhope (Richland County Board of Developmental Disabilities) supports more than 1,800  individuals through early intervention, preschool, adult, residential, therapy, transportation and other family support programs.

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