As we celebrate our freedoms during this Independence Day weekend, we should take some time to think about what freedom and independence mean for the people we serve at the ODC.

For nearly 70 years the Occupational Development Center has been working hard to help those with developmental and intellectual disabilities experience true freedom and independence.

It wasn’t that long ago that their parents were told that they were “uneducable” or would never be able to work. For many, their fate was staying at home, or even being put in an

We do this by working with them as individuals and providing them with the skills they want, and need, to gain meaningful employment. This includes vocational skills they need for a variety of tasks, as well as the “soft skills” necessary for succeeding in the workplace alongside their fellow employees.

We believe that every one of our participants deserves to be employed in their least restrictive environment, allowing them to flourish and succeed while earning an income. This might be in some form of customized, community employment.

Our individuals are adults, just like you and me, who can make their own decisions. They are capable of working in the community.

So on this Independence Day, think about those who are still seeking independence in their daily lives. Consider coming alongside them and helping them.

First and foremost, you can do this by helping us identify those area businesses that would be willing to talk to us about hiring one or more of our participants. We know they are out there, but would love you to introduce us to them.

And, of course, you can always give to the ODC and help us as we continue to work with our participants to prepare them for employment.

Have a wonderful 4th of July!