We’re celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) by sharing local employment success stories. This awareness month helps educate the public about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of workers with disabilities.
The theme for NDEAM 2023 is “Advancing Access and Equity.”
Ryan Koehne – Full Throttle Carting
Ryan Koehne always wanted to be independent. As a freshman in high school, he started working with Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities and then successfully completed a career exploration program with IKRON. “As a parent, it has always been my goal to have Ryan be as independent as possible,” said Koehne’s mom, Kim.
Throughout high school, Koehne, 19, continued to improve his skills, which landed him a job as a dishwasher at The Old Spaghetti Factory. He liked making money and bought himself a guitar. Koehne, who is on the autism spectrum, also explored programs to work on his money management, employment, and independent living skills. The family finally settled on the Pathways to Employment program, which he began this fall at Scarlet Oaks.
“Transitions are quite difficult, so being able to provide opportunities for him to experience new settings helps with his anxiety,” said Kim. “The skills that Ryan developed in just the first month of being at Pathways show that he is on track to becoming an independent adult.”
Koehne is currently on his first of three job rotations at Full Throttle Carting and loves the experience. When he’s not working, he enjoys swimming and bowling with Special Olympics.
Christine Murphy – Hyatt Regency Cincinnati
Working independently is something Christine Murphy cherishes, and she has proven that she is more than capable of thriving in a full-time role. Murphy is a steward at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Cincinnati, where she’s worked since 2015. She consistently receives positive evaluations for her work in stewarding, restaurant service, and kitchen duties, and has earned praise from her colleagues as “an extremely friendly person and hard worker.”
Murphy, 30, has worn a cochlear implant since age 3. She was one of the original students at Ohio Valley Voices, which specializes in teaching oral communication skills to hearing-impaired children. This early intervention proved instrumental in her development, setting her on a path toward success.
After graduating from Oak Hills High School in 2013, Murphy participated in Project Search at Xavier University. She was recognized as Intern of the Month and Most Improved Intern of the Year, showcasing her dedication and growth.
“I like having a job because I can save money for my future,” she said.
Jaiyear Davis – Roses Discount Store
Jaiyear Davis always wanted a job in the community. Since August, he’s worked at Roses Discount Store, where he stocks merchandise and retrieves shopping carts. “He loves the idea of making his own money and spending it on things he wants,” said Robert Long, Transition Consultant.
After graduating from Aiken High School in 2022, Davis, now 21, successfully completed a job readiness program. He flourished in his first job at Kroger and was eager to keep working. His employment journey and post-secondary success wouldn’t be possible without the unwavering support of his family, particularly his uncle.
“Jaiyear wants more out of life and feels he can contribute to his community by being a productive, respectful citizen,” Robert said.
Mary Austing – Seton High School
Mary Austing loves feeling like part of the Seton High School and Mount St. Joseph community. “What I like best about working at Seton is being around the girls and being a part of the school,” said the 21-year-old, who recently graduated from the Pathways to Employment program.
In school, Austing took a few classes at Seton High School and helped with the volleyball team. She developed close relationships with teachers, the principal, and other students. This led to her current job in the cafeteria, where she stacks candy and chips, wipes down tables, and collects tokens for drinks. Austing is also the manager of the women’s volleyball team at Mount Saint Joesph and attends every practice and home game.
She likes the independence of having a job and takes an Uber to work every day, with the same driver.
Duncan Kerby – City Base Cinema
Duncan Kerby has made himself an invaluable part of the kitchen staff at City Base Cinema. It’s a job he landed through his work at Skyward Academy, a school in Montgomery. As part of a career exploration and training program, Kerby tried different jobs at Brooklyn Pizza, Blossom Donut, DoubleTree, and City Base Cinema. The manager at City Base was so impressed with Kerby’s work ethic and performance, she offered him a job at the cinema after graduation.
Kerby, 22, works two days a week in the City Base kitchen, carefully weighing out portions of food. He likes to spend his money on games and movies for his iPad and Wii, but also helps his family. “Duncan has taken on more responsibility in contributing to the daily household expenses, demonstrated growth and is developing a sense of adult responsibility,” said his father, Robert.