Disability Mentoring Day
According to the American Association of People with Disabilities, Disability Mentoring Day is a large-scale national effort coordinated by AAPD to promote career development for students and job-seekers with disabilities through hands-on career exploration and ongoing mentoring relationships.
DMD was founded in 1999 through a White House initiative with less than three-dozen students participating to increase the awareness of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
Since that event, DMD has spring boarded from a one day event for a small group of students to an extensive national mentoring program for young professionals with disabilities across the United States, territories and abroad.
While DMD has been and continues to be officially launched the third Wednesday of each October during NDEAM, the foundation of the program has expanded from a one-day event to a year-round initiative across the country.
A big crowd showed up to the Employment Success Conference on Tuesday at the Great Bend Elks Lodge. The conference was a part of Disability Employment Success Day as proclaimed by the Great Bend Mayor Mike Allison and followed on the heels of Disability Mentoring Day that was held on Oct. 21.
The conference was designed to help people with disabilities understand how important a job can be, and to explain how a job can enrich their lives.
“The conference will match people with disabilities to employers in the community,” said Sarah Krom, community support coordinator for Sunflower Diversified services.
The morning started out with Dennis Ford, a guest speaker from the Kansas Department for Children and Families. Ford is the program administrator for the DCF’s vocational rehabilitation program.
Ford lectured on job importance and work ethics, He also went on to explain how jobs can open many doors for people with disabilities in the form of friendships and being self supporting.
“When they get into the job, it so rewarding for them,” Ford said. “They don’t want to be seen as disabled, but be seen as an individual.”
After Ford’s lecture, it was time for clients of Rosewood Services and Sunflower Diversified Services that were already employed in the community to speak about their jobs and what they liked most about them.
“I really enjoy my job and the best part of it is the people,” Ronnie Lewis said.
Lewis is a client of Sunflower Diversified Services and is employed by the Great Bend Tribune.
Other Clients that spoke included: Jeese Maes of Rosewood, Mary Minear of Rosewood, Iola Titsworth of Sunflower, and James Wonsetler of Rosewood.
After the clients spoke, Karen Baessler, Kansas Department of Health and Environment regional benefits specialist took the floor to talk about Social Security benefits and how having a job can have an affect on these benefits.
The lunch break allowed the guests to visit with different services that were present for the conference and also to grab a bite to eat that was provided.
The agencies on hand were Amerigroup, Sunflower Health Plan, KanCare, Southwest Development Services, Unified School District 428 Special Education and United Health Care. These organizations provided information on how to build a resume, networking, the application process, how to make a good first impression and how to find a job.
After lunch more guest speakers from local business took the floor and did some networking with the guest.
The afternoon guest speakers included: Angie Zink of RMAC — Bumper to Bumper, Jennifer Manning of KMW, Frank Trimmer of Pizza Hut and Kimberly Brown of Applebee’s.