Publicado por: Ricardo Shimosakai | 21/09/2012

Worker with developmental disability retires after 35 years on the job

On Friday, co-workers, friends and family gathered at McDonald’s on Bridge Street to help Barb Ramey celebrate retirement after 35 years at the fast food restaurant — and mark a success story for Pioneer Center programming.

Ramey, 63, is one of many local people with developmental disabilities who have transitioned into the area work force thanks to the support of family, friends, caseworkers and social workers.

“Barb will do fine. She has a supportive family, and having a strong support system makes a huge difference for those with disabilities,” said Dottie Fay, of the Ross County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

Fay said Ramey’s longevity is a rarity in the work force for someone with developmental disabilities.

“I have known people to work 20 years at the same place, but I think it is kind of rare for someone to work as long as Barb has,” Fay said. “I don’t know of anyone else with a disability around here who has worked and retired after 35 years of service.”

Fay said infants, children and adults with special needs or disabilities receive many vital services at the local Pioneer Center, and it’s stories such as Barb’s that show those services are working.

“Pioneer Center is one of those envied places for small counties. We have a very good, very active program for people of all ages, and we try to find community employment for adults with developmental disabilities,” Fay said. “The employers find that they are the very best employees in a lot of ways. They love to come to work, are very loyal, don’t miss work often and they fulfill their duties. It is very important to Barb to clean a table right or put the straws away neatly, much more important than some kids may think that it is.”

As an employee, Ramey always has remained focused on her duties.

“We find that with a lot of people with disabilities. Once they have their parameters and work parameters, they are extremely good workers,” Fay said. “Barb is a wonderful example of someone who can fit into the community and is happy about it. She loves McDonald’s. It was a perfect fit for her. McDonald’s loves her, and we love McDonald’s for doing this for her.”

Ramey said her favorite part of the job was getting to meet a lot of nice people and that she will miss her job, but she is looking forward to having fun in her newly found free time.

“I am going to be in the day programs and do stuff with my social workers,” Ramey said. “They are going to take me on tours on Monday, and I’m going to go bowling. I’m pretty good at bowling. I got a trophy.”

In past years, Ramey’s mother was a cook at the Pioneer School.

Ramey’s niece, Missy, remembers her parents taking Barb to and from work in the early days before community transportation.

“I remember there were four of us kids, and Dad would load us up. All of the kids would be in the back seat, and Barb and Mom and Dad would ride in the front seat,” said Missy, who has worked for the Ross County Board of DD since 1996. “We would pick Barb up, take her to work and bring her back home at the end of the day. All of us kids would get into orneriness, poking and prodding each other. We had a good time.”

These days, Chillicothe City Transit is contracted with the Pioneer Center to help meet the transportation needs of locals with disabilities.

“This is a very important part of their lives, because very few of them have driver’s licenses,” Fay said. “We have lots of partnerships around town, and we help each other.

“Chillicothe is a very good community for people with disabilities. We have people employed at Walmart and all over town. One lady has worked at Red Lobster for many years — very similar to Barb, not for 35 years, but for a long time. We help people transition and do some job shadowing and on-the-job training when they are first getting started.”

McDonald’s manager Tim Colburn said Ramey’s duties included keeping tables clean, caring for the lobby, stocking the condiment bar, cleaning restrooms, sweeping and mopping.

“Anything on the customer side, Barbie did,” Colburn said. “She was my customer-service ambassador.”

Colburn said he will miss Ramey and her strong work ethic but said he is happy for her in her retirement and wishes her well as she goes forth to do the things she enjoys most.

“Barb has been a treat. Everybody knows her, and she has been a great employee,” Colburn said. “There will be people who knew she worked on Thursdays and Fridays who will wonder where she is. That will happen for a little while. Whenever you lose a great employee, people notice.

Source: Newark Advocate

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