Saturday, February 28, 2004

National award recognizes firm

Good Things Happening

Allen Howard

A group of employees of United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cincinnati wouldn't let disabilities stand in their way. Now they have received national recognition for starting their own small business.

The group will receive the 2004 Employer of the Year Award for creating World Images Unlimited, which develops promotional materials.

The award, given by the national United Cerebral Palsy Association, will be presented in Boston April 3.

Employees of World Images will give a presentation during the three-day conference on how they run the business.

"It is so hard for people with disabilities to find work because we are prejudged about what we can do," said Michael Denlinger, a co-manager of World Images. "We wanted to start our own business to prove that we could do something and do it well. I guess I am speechless about winning this honor, and I give credit to others in the group who worked so hard to develop (it)."

They started World Images in 2002 to be a part of the business world on its own terms and to give something back to those with disabilities, said Pam Rieke, local United Cerebral Palsy business skills manager.

"Right now we are incubating them along, but the long-term goal is for them to be independent," ' Rieke said.

World Images creates promotional products, such as coffee mugs, T-shirts and notepads for businesses and groups.

"They also want to take art produced by artists with disabilities and turn them into marketable items," Rieke said.

Venison provided

Through a partnership with deer hunters and the state of Ohio, the hungry and homeless in Corryville had a chance to feast on fresh venison last week.

The Southwest Ohio Chapter of the Safari Club International partnered with the Division of Wildlife of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to give 480 pounds of processed venison to St. George Food Pantry, 108 Calhoun St., Corryville.

The Safari Club paid for processing of the meat. The program, called "Sportsmen Against Hunger," started seven years ago.

Trent Weaver, a wildlife officer and a member of the Safari Club, said the group has paid for processing more than 960 pounds of venison for the hungry in Ohio this year.

"Dear hunters in Ohio have lots of success because deer are so plentiful," Weaver said.

He said hunters are allowed to harvest several deer, and most hunters like to share what they take with the less fortunate.

"That is how the program got started," Weaver said. "Hunting provides food for people, helps to keep the deer population in manageable numbers, and the sale of hunting licenses helps to pay for wildlife conservation in Ohio.''

Speaking for literacy

The volunteer work of people at the Literacy Council of Clermont and Brown counties gave John Berling enough confidence to stand before an audience of 60 people and deliver a speech.

He gave that speech recently at the council's annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner.

"I was a little nervous, but since the volunteers here had given so much time helping me, I figured I owed it to them," Berling said. "I am before an audience when I sing at my church, but singing and speaking are two different things."

Stephanie Laybourne, literacy council executive director, said Berling has been involved with the council - off and on - for eight years.

"When he came to the Literacy Council in 1995, his reading and writing skills were very poor because he has struggled with learning disabilities all his life," Laybourne said.

"Now he is ready to take his GED; is reading instruction manuals, the Bible and books to his grandchildren."

She said Berling is preparing to take the state driver's test to become a bus driver at the Live Oaks Career Development Campus in Milford.

Berling, 53, is a custodian at Live Oaks. He talked to the audience about his struggles to learn how to read and what it has meant to him.

Laybourne said they have about 60 volunteers who devote their time to helping people to learn to read.

"It is amazing how Mr. Berling stuck with it. The dropout rate here is very high. People just get frustrated and stop," Laybourne said.

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