All about work
(Editor’s Note: The following is part of a series of stories about providers that Richland Newhope partners with to provide services for people with developmental disabilities in Richland County.)
Helping individuals with developmental disabilities to learn job skills and find employment has taken on greater meaning since the Employment First Initiative began in Ohio in 2012.
One local provider doing its part to help with the effort is The Alpha Group – a non-profit agency based in Delaware.
The Alpha Group, which at one time was called Ergon, has been in north central Ohio for more than 20 years. Chari Shick first joined the company in 2007 as a job developer. Today she serves as the Alpha North vocational coordinator and supervisor.
“When I started this job, Alpha North only serviced Richland, Ashland, and Crawford Counties,” says Chari. “To date, we have expanded into Morrow, Knox, Wayne, Summit, Medina, Stark and Holmes Counties. We have offices in Westerville, Worthington, and Delaware which service Wyandot, Marion, Franklin, and Delaware Counties.”
She says all of their services are provided through Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD), county board waivers, and the Pathways program. Chari says Alpha North has greatly expanded in the last 10 years. Currently they’re serving more than 80 individuals, including 25 in Richland County.
“Our services consist of job development, career exploration, job retention, supported employment, job carving, work adjustments, coaching, community-based assessments, travel training, soft skill training, and job saves,” says Chari.
She says The Alpha Group can help an individual learn how to market his or herself and apply for jobs. A community-based assessment allows someone to see if he or she is a good fit for a position. A work adjustment is a longer assessment where the individual works with a job coach.
“This helps the individual develop a work schedule, be on time, build work ethics, and form the ability to comprehend the job, build stamina, and gain natural supports on the job,” adds Chari.
The Alpha Group also provides follow-up job retention services. After an individual is successfully placed for 90 days, services can switch from OOD and Pathways to working through a Level 1 or Individual Options (IO) waiver.
There’s also a Summer Youth program, which Chari says has grown over the past five years. Career Exploration classes and work experience is offered in Richland, Knox, Ashland, Summit, and Medina Counties. This summer they expect to service up to 50 kids, including some in Richland County.
“Our services have always been about the individual, genuinely caring about each consumer and making sure you can change their life for the better,” she noted. “Alpha is growing by leaps and bounds because our services speak for themselves.”
Chari anticipates Alpha North expanding into the schools to help students learn about soft skills and job goals at an early age, which is already happening in Delaware County.
In addition to Chari, Alpha North employs three full-time vocational specialists and seven job coaches. During the Summer Youth program, another 8-12 coaches will join the team. Overall, The Alpha Group employs about 190 people.
New referrals can contact The Alpha Group through OOD offices at 419-747-3000, through the Richland County Board of Developmental Disabilities, or by calling Chari at 419-310-0058. Additional information about the agency can be found at www.alphagroup.net.« Back to Stories