OOD Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Victoria Pierce first met with Damon Hiles in January 2020 at First Capital Enterprises, Inc., an adult day and vocational program for individuals with developmental disabilities in Ross County. “I noticed right away that Damon was a natural-born leader,” said Victoria. “As we were sitting in the conference room, his peers kept coming in to seek his direction about different tasks. Damon has a good relationship with everyone he meets.”
Damon is 44 and has a developmental disability. Although he has a guardian, Damon lives independently with direct support professional services. Damon enjoyed the vocational program, but due to the pandemic, he could no longer go.
Through the Employment First partnership, OOD and the Ross County Board of Developmental Disabilities (RCBDD) supported Damon in community employment. Damon’s Job Developer, John Page with Capabilities, Inc., took Damon to an open interview at McDonald’s in Chillicothe. He got the job and now works 20-25 hours a week and is responsible for various cleaning duties and assisting customers.
Heather Chaney, RCBDD Service and Support Administrator, has known Damon for more than 20 years. “Damon loves to keep busy. He is never idle. He plays Special Olympics basketball, and he is always friendly. That is why the job at McDonald’s is a good fit,” said Heather.
Damon was one of the first to benefit from the Innovative Technology Solutions Grant, which helps people with intellectual disabilities overcome barriers through innovative technologies. Job coach Brittany Carter with Capabilities Inc. coached Damon remotely through MeMinder, an assistive technology app. MeMinder provides pictures and word prompts read to Damon to keep him on target as he follows his daily tasks at work. Brittany has monitored Damon’s tasks and progress virtually.
Brittany said, “This technology has helped to make this opportunity for Damon possible during this time of COVID-19, and has helped Damon feel more secure working independently.”
When asked about his new job, Damon said, “I have met a lot of people, and the customers like me. I help the older folks with their trays, and I always treat the customers right.”