Koinonia DSP, A'Vaie smiling in front of Giant Eagle building

Summit DD Celebrates Disability Employment Workers

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (known as NDEAM). It is a time to celebrate people of all abilities in the workplace. Employing a diverse workforce gives organizations the chance to solve problems and meet customers’ needs from new and different perspectives. In addition to celebrating employees, NDEAM is also a time to celebrate the partners, like A’vaie from Koinonia Enterprises, who help support the employment needs of those with disabilities.

Celebrating Front Line Disability Employment Professionals

Summit DD works with dozens of community providers throughout Summit County, like Koinonia Enterprises, to meet the employment goals for more than 1,200 people we serve on their path to employment. Employment services range from interview and job readiness skills to job search and at-work job coaching. Partners employ hard-working professionals who get to know individuals and tailor supports to set them up for success. These dedicated direct support professionals provide the essential services that help people with developmental disabilities prepare, find and keep jobs in their community.

Building Relationships

Koinonia Enterprises Job Coach, A’vaie Knox, recently shared his gratifying experience as a job coach for a young man named Mark.

“It’s been a pleasure watching him grow on his journey,” A’vaie stated. He explained that Mark has found fulfillment at his job. He connects with customers and is growing new skills each week. “And we were able to accomplish this during a pandemic!” he added.

A’vaie has worked with Mark through challenges, including health issues and most recently, the Coronavirus pandemic. He shared that Mark recently went back to work and even received praise from his employer. Getting to know Mark in his home setting, helped A’vaie prepare him for the transition back into the workplace. A’vaie worked with Mark during the past few months to get him used to a consistent work schedule again. He also prepared Mark for new expectations on the job such as masks, gloves and hand sanitization. “[Mark is] aware of what is going on in the world, and he is comfortable with PPE and safety protocols,” A’vaie said.

“The fact that Mark has done such a great job with A’Vaie is a testament to what a fine young man Mark has as a job coach – with such great skills, dedication and work ethic,” expressed Mark’s mom, Phyllis. “We as a family are very thankful.”

A’vaie’s supervisor, Steve Fluharty, also had high praise. He believes the relationship that A’vaie built with Mark has a lot to do with the success that Mark is experiencing. According to Steve, A’vaie was the right fit for Mark and has an innate ability to bring out the best in him.

Collaboration leads to Success

Fluharty explained that as a philosophy, Koinonia Enterprises is flexible. They are willing to work outside-the-box to meet the needs of those they serve.  “We like to collaborate and partner with Summit DD and other organizations to find creative ways to support people with wrap-around services. People have needs. And services are working together better than ever to meet people where they are.”

A’vaie humbly credits Mark and those around him for the recent success. “Mark has a great support system – his family, in-home provider, employer and his [Summit DD] SSA.” But credit needs to go to A’vaie as well. By getting to know Mark and supporting his needs, he set Mark up for success on the job.

“This support system works together to open doors to opportunities,” A’vaie stated. “Mark is in his own community, doing a job like any of us. Workers like Mark are an untapped resource for employers.”

This October help us celebrate the dedicated direct support professionals, like A’vaie who create the foundation for employment success for the many people with disabilities working in the community.

Mark-Avaie_with-masksA’Vaie Knox, Koinonia Job Coach/Trainer.Mark-Avaie_no-masks

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