Advantages Of Hiring A Person With A Disability – Employer’s Perspective

This week’s blog was written by Annie Geiger, the Regional Human Resources Specialist for Central Ohio, Northeastern Ohio and Northwestern Ohio Regions at Fifth Third Bank. She is also the site contact for the UCP Fifth Third job site and an active three-year member of the UCP Business Advisory Committee (BAC). “I thought (joining the BAC) would be a great opportunity for me to learn more about UCP and what they do as whole, and also to get more involved with the agency,” said Geiger.

Before I started with Fifth Third Bank, I did not have the opportunity to work with a person with a disability. I do have exposure and experience with someone with a disability, though. I have an Aunt who is paralyzed from the waist down and is in a wheelchair. As a child I grew up seeing my aunt in a wheelchair and how she was able to get around, raise her children, be a teacher in her local school district and continue on with the normal day to day functions.

The best part about having Fifth Third partner with UCP is seeing how the Fifth Third employees and UCP clients interact with each other. It is wonderful seeing the UCP clients work side by side with Fifth Third employees and assist with projects/ events that have or are taking place in the affiliate. It is also great to see how the UCP clients have grown and learned over the years, and how the UCP clients have taught Fifth Third employees the same.

This experience has taught me how to have patience and understanding when it comes to teaching and showing the UCP clients how to complete a project or task. Sometimes we have the tendency to explain things at a fast pace. By taking a moment to sit down with the UCP client and explain the project or task to them, I make sure they understand what is being asked of them. This also helps our employees to make sure they understand the project or task themselves. It gives the employees a different perspective on how a different employee learns and how they can teach others.

By having the UCP clients here every day, it makes it easier for the employees of Fifth Third Bank to get to know them on a personal level. The clients add humor, patience and the extra helping hand. This also helps with the growth and development of both the UCP clients and the employees at Fifth Third Bank. It also reminds us of the importance of diversity in the workplace.

To us, the clients are just regular employees and not employees with a disability. They are accepted very well by all the employees here at Fifth Third Bank. I know the Trust Department goes out to lunch with Christian to celebrate birthdays and just to have lunch together as a team. Harry has become good friends with a few of the gentlemen in the commercial department and they go out to lunch once a month. I like running into Sara in the hallway, she always has a smile on her face.

It’s also amazing to see how Andy has grown by working here. A little background about Andy is when he first started working with Fifth Third Bank he was very shy, nervous and afraid to talk to people. Through this partnership with UCP and Fifth Third Bank, Andy has grown by leaps and bounds. When you see Andy in the hallway he always says hello to everyone and will even sometimes stop and talk about how the Browns, Cavs or Indians did the night before.

I would recommend other companies hire people with disabilities. People with disabilities give everyone a different perspective on employment, life and just things in general. They also show us how projects can be done a different way but still accomplish the same end results. They also teach others how to manage/cope with the day to day tasks that some people take for granted.

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“A Christmas Carol” Sensory-Friendly Matinee – November 26, 2014

PlayhouseSquare and Great Lakes Theatre are providing a sensory-friendly performance of the classic tale “A Christmas Carol” at the Ohio Theatre on Wednesday, November 26 at 11:00am. For this special performance, accommodations will be made, including a supportive audience environment, designated quiet areas, adjustments to light and sound, and online resource materials. To purchase tickets, go to For more information about the performance, please click here.

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The Kohoen Social Community Service Group Site Visit – October 20, 2014

A group of 17 administrators of a social welfare facility in Japan are visiting Cleveland from October 20th -24th to learn about non-profit facilities who work with individuals who have disabilities in the United States. They expressed a particular interest in touring UCP of Greater Cleveland to learn about our adult day services, organizational employment and children’s services programs in addition to our transition program, Project SEARCH, specifically the site at the Cleveland Clinic. The group was referred by a former Social Work Field Instructor from Case Western Reserve Universe, Ms. Hikari Morikawa, who also served as their interpreter. The Chairman of the Kohoen Social Community Service group, Dr. Ko Hiroe assisted with arranging the tour. In addition, UCP was presented with a generous donation by the Kohoen Social Community Service group at the end of the tour.



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Advantages Of Hiring A Person With A Disability – UCP Site Supervisor Perspective

This week’s blog post was written by Mary Ellen Rhein, the Supported Employment Site Supervisor at PNC Bank. Mary Ellen shares her perspective on working with people with disabilities, and what they contribute to the company.

I began to work at UCP three and a half years ago at the Westlake Adult Day Service site. I started working as a classroom aide and then became classroom leader after a few months. I helped to provide support services, training and delegated nursing for adults with multiple disabilities. I enjoyed their smiles, jokes and the joy they had in sharing time with you. It was a blessing to learn so much from them.

Almost two years ago, I transferred to the position of Site Supervisor at PNC. I was motivated to take the position because it took me back to my roots. I am a retired special education teacher. For thirty-one years I taught Life Skills and Work Skills to high school students with special needs. The position at PNC gives me the opportunity to continue to teach job skills but in a real work environment. I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of helping an individual transform from an untested, nervous person to a confident experienced worker. One of the best memories that I have is of a young man who started working one day a week, needed constant supervision while working and was afraid to go too far from his desk. He has transitioned to now working five days a week and works all over the building with minimal observation. He has truly blossomed because he was given a chance.

As a retired teacher, the most challenging aspect of my job is working during the summer. Seriously though, adapting to a business/bank culture has been the most difficult aspect. It is very different from the world of education. However, it has been heartwarming to see how open and welcoming the PNC employees and management are to the UCP workers. They are included in huddles (department meetings), parties, potlucks and building wide celebrations. In the offices, halls and cafeteria, you can’t help but notice the camaraderie as PNC people stop to talk to UCP workers about their weekend, football, family etc.

The managers at PNC often comment how happy they are with the work done by the UCP workers. The employees complete a wide variety of jobs in different parts of the building. Often the work that they do allows the PNC employees to complete other tasks.

An employer would be smart to look at the process of hiring from a different perspective. Many bright, intelligent people have difficulty with the interview process and are passed over because of it. The same can be said for bright, intelligent people with disabilities. Sometimes a person with a disability might not have the communication skills to make it past that first interview. But as the PNC managers found out, the UCP employees have many talents, are hard working, loyal and have outstanding attendance.

For more information about UCP of Greater Cleveland’s Community Employment program, please contact Kate Adkins, Community Employment Manager, at (216) 791-8362 ext. 1252 or Or visit our website at

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Warren Mitchell

DSCN5843_WEBWarren Mitchell’s career began within UCP’s Supported Employment Program. He started at the Cleveland Clinic/Lyndhurst Supported Employment Site in June of 2008, where he assisted in various clerical tasks. Warren later transferred to the Reese Pharmaceutical Site in April of 2009 and began packaging over-the-counter medications. He was later trained in shipping and custodial duties. In July of 2012, after showing much promise in both packaging and cleaning duties, Warren was requested by Reese management to transfer to their new E. 40th Street location. This move proved to be a significant one for Warren as he continued to work more independently and with less supervision.

Recently, in May of 2014, Warren successfully transitioned into competitive employment and started a full-time job with Standard Parking. Warren is currently in charge of the cleaning and general upkeep of two employee parking garages located on University Hospital’s main campus. Warren continues to work independently and is able to accomplish all of his duties in a timely manner. He is well liked and respected by his Standard Parking peers.

Warren is a great example of someone transferring their training, skill building and positive experiences from UCP’s Supported Employment Program into a competitive employment position.

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  • Upcoming Events

       October  2014 »
    Events on October 5, 2014
    • Browns Tailgate Fundraiser

      Starts: 12:30 pm, October 5, 2014

      Ends: 2:30 pm, October 5, 2014

      Location: Harry Buffalo, 18605 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, OH, United States

    Events on October 17, 2014
    • Fall Fling

      Starts: 6:00 pm, October 17, 2014

      Ends: 8:00 pm, October 17, 2014

      Location: Around the Corner Saloon & Cafe, 18616 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, OH, United States

    Events on October 19, 2014
    • Team Niko Event

      Starts: 4:00 pm, October 19, 2014

      Ends: 7:00 pm, October 19, 2014

      Location: P.J. McIntyre's Irish Pub, 17119 Lorain Ave, Cleveland, OH 44111, United States

    Events on October 29, 2014
    • BAC Cocktail Reception

      Starts: 5:30 pm, October 29, 2014

      Ends: 7:00 pm, October 29, 2014

      Location: United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cleveland, 10011 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH, United States