March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and to celebrate YAP is joining The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) in their "SEE ME FOR ME" campaign. This week's feature is on education and the call to "See Me as Your Coworker."
Ryan Leppo received the male Employee of the Year Award at the annual “Work With Us” Banquet on October 19 2017 in Lebanon County, PA. Ryan was chosen for this award by demonstrating outstanding work ethic. The event included a Lebanon County Employment Panel discussion, an address by motivational speaker and PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Executive Director, David DeNotaris, a luncheon and concluded in an awards ceremony. Ryan was pleasantly surprised to receive the award. He is known for his friendly demeanor and is described as full of energy, fun to work with, and an awesome guy.
Ryan, with support from Eastern Lebanon County HS, “School to Work” program, sought and found jobs in his community of Myerstown, PA. As he transitioned from high school, Ryan looked to YAP for continued support. Ryan works seasonally at Hersheypark in the maintenance/sweeps department helping to keep the amusement park clean and presentable. He also works at Myerstown based grocery store, Dutch Way Farm Markets, doing light cleaning and pushing carts. Ryan volunteers weekly at Stone Ridge Retirement Center. He assists residents with getting around the facility and helps out wherever he’s needed.
Ryan has been involved in the array of services offered by Lebanon YAP since he was a teenager. Current, YAP Program Director, Deidra Deiter, recalls when she started working with Ryan Leppo through Lebanon YAP’s Behavioral Health program when he was in 7th Grade. She commented that “he’s always had a great attitude and is a pleasure to work with and be around.” His transition to supported employment was a natural fit as he was already familiar with YAP services and staff.
Today, Ryan is primarily supported by Brittany Hilton, an Employment Specialist for YAP, who works with Ryan at his jobs a few hours a week. Brittany sites effective communication as being instrumental in improving Ryan’s work skills and navigating any areas of concern.
Brittany Hilton is also part of the “Work With Us” committee which is a coalition of local provider agencies, school district personnel, staff from MH/ID/EI and other government agencies, local employers and individuals. The “Work With Us” committee believes that all people in Lebanon County should have the opportunity to work in a safe, accessible and supportive work environment that is free of bias. The Employment Banquet is an annual event coordinated to celebrate and encourage people with disabilities in the workforce and to recognize employers who have displayed impeccable support to all employees regardless of disability. In addition, this group arranges for educational speakers and events in Lebanon County that emphasize employment. The efforts of the “Work With Us” committee seek to highlight that every success achieved by someone with a disability encourages others to overcome and succeed, and promotes the values of commitment, hard work, and the desire to excel.