Record-low employment numbers across the nation and in Ohio are helping people with disabilities find their place in the workplace.
In the last three months, Coleman Employment Services, based in Kent, has helped 170 people with physical and mental disabilities find work.
The nonprofit works in 10 Ohio counties and tries to match workers of all ages with employers who can use their specific skills.
“I want employers to see the job candidate, see the person, see their skills,” said Ken Penix, Chief Officer of employment services. “The biggest barrier I would say is stigma. Stigma of the public, of employers not realizing that people with mental illness can work and want to work.”
For Mason Marino, the two-year job search was a lesson in never giving up.
The 21-year-old went on eight interviews before finally landing a job at Tree City Coffee in Kent.
“Just crazy to be able to work from the circumstances I was born with,” Mason said. “It’s a relief.”
When Mason was born, he said doctors and nurses called him a “miracle baby.” Numerous health issues kept him wheelchair-bound until was 5 years old.
“When I was born, they just didn’t think I was going to be able to live,” he explained.
Now, Mason has found his place in the workplace, giving him the independence he so desperately wanted.
“It’s really cool sometimes I’ll be called the mayor because I know so many people, but I’m not officially the mayor, but they still call me it,” he said, laughing.
For more information on Coleman and finding work for those with disabilities, click here.