PIQUA — In celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, there are members within the community with “disabilities” who have shined by showing their cabilities through the gift of employment.
Katherine Smith and Daniel Chappie have been a positive addition to the A.M. Leonard Inc. company in Piqua, which specializes in selling horticulture tools and supplies. Smith and Chappie were recruited with the help of Riverside Developmental Disabilities. Kay Allen, job developer at Riverside, reached out to the company to see if there was any interest in employing individuals through their job placement program.
“After touring the RT Industries facility in Troy, we were immediately on board with the program,” said Jacob Studebaker, operations assistant at A.M. Leonard. “When we finally met Katherine and Daniel in person, we knew we had found two great people and hired them immediately.”
A.M. Leonard once partnered through a similar program through the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities, but Chappie and Smith are the first hired through the program for Miami County.
“We feel that every company should look into partnering with RT Industries and the career/job placement program,” Studebaker said. “There are many wonderful, hard-working, and dependable individuals that would make an excellent addition to any team.”
Chappie and Smith are both employed as warehouse receiving personnel and are responsible for barcoding products, small product assembly, and promotional material assembly.
“This is a position that requires reliability, patience, and focus,” said Angela Hare, operations manager at A.M. Leonard. “In the past, it has been difficult to find individuals with all three of those traits, so Katherine and Daniel have been an ideal fit and we have noticed a drastic increase in productivity in that area since they have joined us.”
Both Chappie and Smith are approaching their one-year anniversary with the company. They started at A.M. Leonard at the end of January this year.
“The best thing has been the opportunity to work with two people as wonderful as Katherine and Daniel,” Studebaker said. “It is a privilege for all of us here. They are both hard-working, dependable, and are always happy to come to work.”
The company recently gave Smith a surprise birthday party where many employees brought cards and chipped in to surprise her with various gift cards for ice cream and a gift card for Jay and Mary’s book store in Troy.
“She was all smiles and even teared up a bit,” Studebaker said.
Studebaker said there was only one, “very minor,” challenge to overcome with the two; a challenge many face.
“The only challenge, albeit a very minor one, that we encountered when they joined the team was that they were both so very quiet,” Studebaker said. “We have definitely noticed a change in both of them and they are much more outgoing now, especially when you ask them about their interest.”
“Katherine and Daniel are both very capable people,” he said.
Reach reporter Amy Barger at (937) 451-3340 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall.