COLUMBIANA CO., Ohio (WKBN) — Each October observes National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which celebrates the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities, and there are some inclusive employment opportunities here in the Valley.
LiB’s Market in downtown Salem gives individuals with disabilities the opportunity for real work experience.
Meena Weingart has been working at the café for almost five years. She works two days a week and helps the shop with simple tasks.
“I love the people that I work with,” Weingart said.
“She was trying to be more involved with the downtown and have a role within the community,” said Ben Ratner, Lib’s Market owner. “There’s always tasks that can be done that maybe in a rush … it’s a little busy to build silverware or stamping of our sleeves, so being able to get those things done.”
Weingart has made quite the impact at the café, getting to know the customers with her vibrant energy.
“I feel loved,” Weingart said, “when I’m here working with them.”
“That community connection and inclusivity with somebody who otherwise might not have that role,” Ratner said. “I think there are other ways to think outside the box when looking to hire with special needs.”
In Lisbon, Beaver Creek Candle Company is fully staffed with disabled individuals, preparing them for the workforce.
“We’re teaching everything from simple assembly to customer service and things of that nature,” said Jacob Lewton, executive director of employment development.
Employees spend time crafting novelty candles to be sent across the nation.
“I do feel welcomed here, and loved,” said Corena Foor, an employee at Beaver Creek Candle Company.
“We have some individuals working in the community half the time, and they work here half the time, so we can refine skills and work on them here,” Lewton said.
The candle company wants to continue to give all individuals opportunities to succeed.