Annual Report
2021

LETTER FROM THE CEO

Laura Lagodney

Laura LaGodney, CEO

Ability Works 2021 Annual Report shines a spotlight on our recent victories in helping support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and all the ways we achieve independence, inclusion, and employment in our community.

With the support of every team member, we have made significant progress towards increasing independence for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities through our programs.  This year we developed and implemented a data analytics program that measures each person’s progress towards success and independence. Everyone deserves to have a life they find meaningful and fulfilling. We are now able to clearly demonstrate when a person is making progress and share the information with their families and system partners to show how it is going through visual graphics and progress charts. This accomplishment could not have been realized without the support of The Sydney Frohman Foundation.

Some of our proudest moments included expanding our ability to recruit and retain Direct Support Professionals (DSP). Our management team focused on creating a career path that advances a DSP towards upper management careers through paid training, tuition reimbursement, and increasing our benefits.  Most of all, with the approval of our Board of Directors, we increased our starting wage to 15 dollars per hour. Creating these new opportunities for our team is not only a good thing to do, but we also know it rewards hard work, dedication, and commitment. Supporting people with IDD connects us to others, creates stronger communities, and helps to build a happier society for everyone.

Thanks to you, Ability Works has strengthened our community partnerships.  In 2021, our donations, grants, and fundraising increased by 125%. Ability Works is primarily reimbursed through Medicaid; however, the Ohio DD system just received its first rate increase since 2005.  Unfortunately, we have had to rely on community grants such as the Erie County Community Foundation, The Sydney Frohman Foundation, and the David and Jacque Clark Charitable Foundation to help support people with disabilities.  These foundation grants have allowed us to really demonstrate an innovative approach to incorporating technology for people with disabilities. Many Ohioans with developmental disabilities encounter obstacles in daily tasks and activities, including accessing education and jobs. Technology can help people to overcome these barriers and live fuller lives.

Four decades of compassion, determination, and innovation from people and partners like you have made Ability Works a recognized agency of quality supports for people with IDD.  Together, we are exceeding expectations through life development. At the same time, we are celebrating the incredible progress we have made during these difficult times.  COVID-19 has impacted many individuals in our community, people with IDD , and our DSPs. It’s easy to let negative thoughts and feelings creep in during our pandemic. Despite all of this, our Ability Works team is keeping a positive mindset that goes a long way in managing our outlook in this difficult time. Having a community like Erie County has helped us with that positivity. Thank you for everything you have done to move us forward on the journey towards supporting people with IDD.
 

Ohio Developmental Disabilities rates have not increased since 2005 for day support services. 

Ohio Developmental Disabilities rates have not increased since 2005 for day support services. 

We won a 2% increase in the Senate for Medicaid waiver rate reimbursement

Ohio Developmental Disabilities rates have not increased since 2005 for day support services. 

This year we developed and implemented a data analytics program that measures each person’s progress towards success and independence. Everyone deserves to have a life they find meaningful and fulfilling.

We made noteworthy progress toward increasing the quality of services

Ohio Developmental Disabilities rates have not increased since 2005 for day support services. 

We expanded opportunities for additional training and an internal career path. Focusing our efforts in 2021 to expand opportunities for internal advancement and training from entry-level positions such as our DSPs to executive management has significantly increased our company culture and commitment to our team.

We implemented tuition reimbursement 

Ohio Developmental Disabilities rates have not increased since 2005 for day support services. 

Technology First is an initiative to ensure that people with developmental disabilities have increased opportunities to live, work, and thrive in their homes and communities through state-of-the-art planning, innovative technology, and supports that focus on their talents, interests, and skills. The main priority of the Technology First initiative is to increase the use of innovative technology solutions within service delivery and operations for people with developmental disabilities.

We joined Ohio in becoming the leader in Technology First

Ohio Developmental Disabilities rates have not increased since 2005 for day support services. 

We found more jobs for people with IDD, increasing our employment placements within our community by 11%. Meaningful work has significant benefits for all working-age adults, including people with developmental disabilities. 

We increased our employment placements by 11%

Ohio Developmental Disabilities rates have not increased since 2005 for day support services. 

With the approval of our Board of Directors, we increased our starting wage to $15 dollars per hour. This raise has helped improve worker productivity, reduce employee turnover, and has helped AW remain a competitive employer in our community.

We increased wages for Direct Support Professionals

CLARK FAMILY SENSORY SPACE

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The Clark Family Sensory Space has gained a lot of popularity with people in the community.  We had 199 appointments in 2021 from families in Erie, Huron, and Lorain counties, and had visitors from as far away as Columbus!


Those who have visited the space are very impressed with what we have to offer.  Adults and children alike find something beneficial in the space.


There are a variety of reasons to visit the space. Some find the room calming, while others come to work on certain skills such as memory, hand–eye coordination, or cause and effect.  
After a few times in the room, visitors soon figure out, what their favorite things to do are. Families know that it is a safe environment for their children and typically reschedule their next visit before they leave.  

 

  • In October, we had a class from “Leadership Erie County,” LEADS, tour the room, and try out the equipment.

  • We were contacted by University Hospitals of Cleveland, who are wanting to put a sensory space in one of their facilities and wanted some suggestions on equipment that we feel is helpful to individuals with sensory needs. 

  • Sensory Space sessions are private and typically last 30 minutes.  All equipment is cleaned and sanitized between visits.  Schedule your appointment today by calling 419-626-1048 ext. 3110.

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199 Appointments

EMPLOYERS

We had an eventful year in our Supported Employment Department. We hosted our first annual Community Partners Event where we invited 64 companies to thank them for hiring individuals with disabilities.

We were excited to see our local employer, Mickey Mart, Win the ANCOR Community Builder Award. Ability Works nominated Mickey Mart for this national award because they create a workplace that fosters inclusion for individuals with disabilities. Mickey Mart employs many of our individuals and has been an outstanding partner to work with as well as an outstanding employer for individuals with disabilities.

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69 Individuals Found Jobs

Thank you to the area business that hired our individuals or provided a worksite for our Summer Youth Work Experience.

5 Guys
Arby’s
Back to the Wild
Barnes Nursery
Boots to Grasses
Buffalo Wild Wings
Cedar Point Sports Center
Chef’s Garden
Corso’s
Erie County Dog Warden
Erie Metro Parks
Fazoli’s
Firelands College (BGSU)

Friendship APL
FRMC
Fruedenburg/Corteco   
Hampton Inn
Holiday Inn
Home Depot
Kalahari
Kohl’s
Kroger
Lakeview Park
Longhorn Steakhouse
Lowe’s
Marc’s 

Martino’s International Cafe
McDonald’s
Meijer
Mickey Mart
Millers Super Value
Motel 6
Neighborhood Alliance Daycare
Panera Bread
Parkvue
Paws by the Lake
Pet Supplies Plus
Port Sandusky
Salvation Army

Sandusky Bay Pancake House
Sandusky County Dog Warden
Sandusky High School
Sawmill Creek
Shurtech Brands LLC
Sirna and Sons
Speedway
Steak ‘n Shake
The Meadows
The Sandusky Mall
TRN/Riddell
Wendy’s
YMCA

INDIVIDUALS SERVED BY COUNTIES

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Rachel became acquainted with Ability Works through frequent visits to our Sensory Space.  Through her visits we learned a few things about her, she was very afraid of emergency personnel and sirens.  She had moved here from the Cleveland area and had never finished high school, so she set a goal for herself...to get her high school diploma!


Last year, Rachel started receiving services through our Community Opportunities Program. After she became comfortable, the Community Support Professional working with Rachel arranged a visit to the Perkins Fire Department.  Firefighter Dan was aware of Rachel’s apprehensions and spent time talking with her to try to ease those apprehensions, by the end of the visit she felt comfortable enough to sit inside the Rescue Squad.  Since that visit, Rachel has participated in a CPR/First Aid class to learn lifesaving techniques.


Next on Rachel’s list was getting her high school diploma.  She tried a traditional school and it just was not a good fit for Rachel.  Through the Community Opportunities Program we investigated exactly what it would take for her to get her diploma, once she knew what she needed to do, she began to work hard.  On January 27th, 2022, celebrated by family and friends, Rachel received her high school diploma…mission accomplished!  


As for the future, Rachel would love to get a job working with children with autism. We are so proud of her, and we know she can accomplish whatever she sets her mind to!

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Clients attended STEP Services
(now Community Opportunities Program)

THANK YOU 2021 DONORS

Because of our donors, and community supporters, individuals with intellectual disabilities have more opportunities to find their independence, feel included in our community, and find employment. Thank you for your continued support of our mission.

Poulos & Schmid Design Group
Hohler
First Congregational Church
Jeff Andrews
Linda Armstrong
David & Jacquie Clark
Wolf Bros. Staff 
Civista Bank C/O Water Street Financial 
Dr. & Mrs. Harry Stenzel 
Ron & Tracy Guerra
Mr. & Mrs. Carroll 
First Energy Foundation
Erie County Community Foundation Grant

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$25,816 Donated

THE SYDNEY FROHMAN FOUNDATION

Sydney Frohman gave a significant portion towards our goal to raise $45,000 for interactive display panels that allow people with disabilities to learn how to use today’s technology and to continue learning life skills. Teaching with interactive whiteboards offers many A for our individuals including increased attention, interactive group learning options, increased retention, and much more.

THE SYDNEY FROHMAN FOUNDATION

Sydney Frohman gave a significant portion towards our goal to raise $45,000 for interactive display panels that allow people with disabilities to learn how to use today’s technology and to continue learning life skills. Teaching with interactive whiteboards offers many A for our individuals including increased attention, interactive group learning options, increased retention, and much more.

FUNDRAISING

Thank you to all of our event sponsors, partnering businesses, and those who came out and supported our fundraisers. 


We had an exciting year hosting a virtual Talent Show, new restaurant/business fundraisers, and a Donut Eating Contest!

Sandusky Donut Eating Contest 2021
What a great turnout for our 2021 Sandusky Donut Eating Contest! A world record was set by Molly Schuyler who consumed 69 donuts in eight minutes!


Our goal is to continue the famous Sandusky 0.5k in 2022 in which you can join your fellow community members for a day of glory, celebration, and participation medals to raise money. 100% of the race registration proceeds go to our current fundraising campaign. 


Thanks to the David and Jacque Clark Family Fund we raised over $8,000 for interactive touchscreen smart-boards that allow people with disabilities to learn how to use today’s technology and continue learning life skills.

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Fundraisers

Donut Eating Contest
Virtual Talent Show
AW Apparel Fundraiser
Kona Ice 
Danny Boys 
Applebee’s
Amazon Smiles Program
Kroger Community Rewards Program

 

0.5k Donut Contest Sponsors

Clark Family
Water Street Financial
Feick Contractors
Firelands Federal Credit Union
Hohler
Liner Legal
Tittle Law
N2Y
Autogate
Barnes
Lindsley Insurance

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In 2015, William began receiving Vocational Habilitation services at Ability Works.  He worked on our production floor earning a sub-minimum wage, based on a time study that was performed once he learned the job.  William was a great worker, never complained, and came to work every day with a smile on his face.


In 2019, when it looked as though the state was going to eliminate sub-minimum wage certifications, we began preparing for what Vocational Services would look like in William’s future.  He was a hard worker, who was eager to be employed outside of a “workshop” environment; yet he did not quite possess all the skills necessary to be successful in his employment ventures.


We proposed that William participate in our Career Academy where he could learn how to take his love for work and sharpen his skill set to better prepare himself for a successful future.  He was active in the classes, soaking in all he could learn.
When the time was right, William opened a case with Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) and chose Ability Works as the provider to assist him.  Our Supported Employment Department set up a Community Based Assessment (CBA) close to home, at Mickey Mart in Vermilion.  They were so impressed with William that they offered him a job.


He now works three days a week at Mickey Mart.  When he is not working, he participates in our Community Opportunities Program where he spends time with friends volunteering at the Erie County Dog Pound, attending local sporting events, going to dinner and movies, among other things.  William recently attended a Basic CPR/First Aid course to learn how to be helpful to others who may find themselves in an unfortunate situation. We are proud to know William and count it a privilege to play a small part in his success story.

$18,417 Raised

2022 VISION

Ability Works is committed to figuring out ways people with disabilities can participate in everyday activities and all aspects of our community. Moving forward, while we address the current workforce shortage, we are renewing our commitment to supports that are responsive to each person’s needs. We are proud to announce that AW’s Board of Directors has approved our annual goals for 2022. Our annual improvement priorities are all focused on our vision:

  • Recognized agency of innovative services

  • Exceeding expectations through life development

  • Community awareness of our quality services

  • Growth while increasing and maintaining financial stability

  • Attract and retain premier talent

SUPPORTED 259 CLIENTS

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Danavin (DJ) Perry participated in our Summer Youth Work Experience Program (SYWE) in the summer of 2021. He chose to work at Miller’s Super Value in Clyde, Ohio. DJ enrolled in this 5-week long program to gain work readiness skills, on-the-job training, and instruction with the help of an Ability Works Job Coach. 


DJ arrived at work every day ready to work and with a positive attitude. The physical, demanding aspect of the job was never a concern for him. He paid attention to detail, took initiative, and worked hard. 


DJ worked with a Job Coach to learn his job duties at Miller’s and excelled at his tasks. After the program ended the General Manager offered DJ a job! They noticed his work ethic and thought he would be a great fit and that he exceeded the expectations of management. 


A SYWE placement coupled with opportunities provided by Miller’s in the SYWE program led to DJ’s transition into the workforce while attending High School. Well Done DJ!

BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Alan Furey | Board President
Cindy Glovinsky | Board Vice President
Don Kleist | Board Treasurer
Deb Sutter | Board Secretary
Tim Dempsey | Board Member
Judina Marsh | Board Member
Gavin Sutter | Board Member

COMING UP 

Talent Show and Spaghetti Dinner | March 24th
Golf Tournament | May 21st Thunderbird North
Sandusky 0.5K | October TBA

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THANK YOU