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FOCUS ON A Newsletter by ODC, Inc.


FALL 2016

ODC & CIC TO JOIN FORCES most important of which is our staff.” “As service organizations, the vast majority of our staff members are those providing direct services,” she said. “Our mission is accomplished by these staff, and we need to continue to serve individuals where they live, so we don’t foresee any significant changes as a result of this partnership.” “Both CIC and ODC have been innovative in developing services over the years,” said Gary. “Now, the two agencies can learn from each other. We see this as a win-win situation.”

Gary Cumley, CIC Board of Directors Chair and Pam Ross, ODC President

“Both CIC and ODC have been innovative in developing services over the years. Now, the two agencies can learn from each other. We see this as a win-win situation.” - Gary Cumley, CIC Board of Directors Chair In 2015, ODC and Community Industries Corporation (CIC) both celebrated 50 years of serving the needs of individuals with disabilities. We have now announced a partnership as the two organizations prepare to become one on January 1, 2017. After the merger, ODC’s name will remain the same, and services currently offered by CIC will continue to be provided under their name at this time.

According to Pam Ross, ODC President, and Gary Cumley, chair of the CIC board of directors, the opportunity to merge two organizations in the same locale, that provide services to the same population, was exactly the right possibility to explore. ““There’s so much synergy already that this partnership makes perfect sense,” said Pam. “The merger is going to allow us to share and most effectively use our resources, the

Empowering People With Disabilites To Achieve

CIC has locations in Stevens Point, Plover and Wausau, and serves approximately 150 individuals in Portage and Marathon counties. Both organizations provide skills training, career exploration, job search assistance, and long-term, on-the-job support for people with disabilities. They also offer day services programs that provide education, volunteer opportunities and community exploration activities. “ODC and CIC staff have already been working together over the years,” said Miranda Yenter, CIC’s Day Service Division Manager. “It’s been a collaboration, not a competition, between the two agencies. Some of the people that train at ODC’s centers also come to CIC to utilize our services, so we’re currently serving some of the same individuals.” “None of our clients will be affected by the change,” said Miranda, “except in a positive way.”

THE SKY’S THE LIMIT! On a Saturday in early 1191 Huntington Avenue Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494

2011, Sam graduated from high school. The next Monday, he began

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a new journey at ODC...

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and, according to CommunityConnect Developer, there is no limit to how far Sam might go.


“In another year,” she said, “we’re going to be blown away by what this man has accomplished.”

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Sam has Autism, and his biggest challenge has always been

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could cause serious problems. But when he was introduced to

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adapting to change. Introducing anything “new” into Sam’s life work, ODC staff quickly realized that the quality and timeliness of his work was amazing, and that he excelled at the jobs he was assigned. “This was the first work experience he had ever had,” said Stacey. “If he thrives at ODC, he might thrive anywhere… so it was now time to help him move toward community employment.” After three years in the training center, Sam signed up for ODC’s CommunityConnect service, another move that took him out of

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his “comfort zone”. CommunityConnect supports individuals in

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exploring both their work and “outside of work” interests with the

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goal of moving them toward community employment. Sam participated in a Career Exploration group, then joined in on

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Job Volunteering group activities. While volunteering to break

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down bookshelves at the Marshfield Public Library, he showed

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himself to be a whiz with power tools.

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“CommunityConnect is all about identifying likes and dislikes,

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what you’re good at and what you’re not so good at,” said Stacey.

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“This was physical work, so we now know that Sam likes to be

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The next step for Sam is training in a retail helper position at

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Weiler Convenience Stores, where he will learn the ins and outs of

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a service industry position. “I don’t know where Sam’s limit is going to be,” said Stacey. “This may be a guy that ends up going back to school! Who knows? He

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is capable of anything.”

Opportunity Development Centers, Inc.

BUSINESS ADVISORY COUNCIL GETS INTERNS CONNECTED Doug King, co-owner of Wisconsin Rapids’ Blu Play Café, was looking for ways to “give back” to the community that helped he and his partner start a successful business just one year ago. “We’re a business that wants to be involved in our community,” said Doug. “We want to do whatever we can to help out, particularly when it comes to assisting individuals in getting into the workforce.” So it was that Doug came to hire an individual with a disability through ODC Employment Services, who has worked for him since the café opened its doors. So it was, also, that Doug became involved in the Project SEARCH Business Advisory Council (BAC), an organization that’s new to Project SEARCH in Wisconsin Rapids this school year.

“We talked with our members about expertise that they could bring to the table,” said Ann. “They will be providing opportunities for the students to do ‘mock’ interviews, complete job applications, build resumes and learn customer service skills.” Technology skill-building will also be an important part of the committee’s role. Interns will communicate with their mentors via email and messaging on a regular basis, giving them the opportunity to learn the email and social media etiquette that’s so important in today’s business environment. “All of these educational opportunities are so meaningful when they involve business people that are doing the hiring, rather than Project SEARCH teachers and ODC job coaches who are also teaching these skills,” said Ann. “Our BAC members will reinforce the message in a very powerful way.”

“We want to do whatever we can to help out, particularly when it comes to assisting individuals in getting into the workforce.” - Doug King, Co-owner of Blu Play Café

The goal of the program, according to ODC’s Director of Employment Services, Ann Lepak, is to help the Project SEARCH interns at Aspirus Riverview Hospital and Clinics get connected to the business community before they graduate. Interns will “pair up” with a BAC member who will serve as their mentor throughout the year, with the goal of gaining additional skills and learning more about the expectations of being an employee. Mentors will also help to identify potential job opportunities within their network of business contacts. Currently, the BAC includes representatives from Scaffidi Motors, New Horizons Dental, Metcalf Lumber, Paper City Savings, Blu Play Café, Pelner Plumbing, VERSO, Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools, WoodTrust Bank, Ocean Spray and the YMCA.

Empowering People With Disabilites To Achieve

Project SEARCH interns introduced themselves to Business Advisory Council members at a meeting in September. Editor's Note: Project SEARCH is a high school transitional program for young adults with disabilities. Students spend their last year of high school in an internship program at a business location, focusing entirely on work and independent life readiness. Project SEARCH was developed by Nurse J. Erin Riehle of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.


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2016 Fall: Focus on Ability  

Focus on Ability is a quarterly newsletter published by ODC.

2016 Fall: Focus on Ability  

Focus on Ability is a quarterly newsletter published by ODC.