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Saturday, April 19, 2014


Rota marks National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Rota—also known as Luta in the vernacular—was the site of important undertakings by representatives of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and State Rehabilitation Council on Jan. 30-31, 2014.

OVR staff conducted presentations during the Educating Employers Workshop held at the Rota Northern Marianas College on Jan. 30.
Jane Tudela, vocational rehabilitation counselor, provided employers and business owners with an overview of the vocational rehabilitation program and services. Tudela has recently been assigned to continue leading the monthly outreach activities on Rota, serving OVR applicants and consumers.

Jiana Camacho, the newest VR counselor, shared information about reasonable accommodations, while Christopher Camacho, OVR manager for administration & operations, presented on tax incentives for employing qualified people with disabilities and improving accessibility by removing physical/architectural barriers.

Brief remarks at the conclusion of the workshop were given by OVR director Arlene Yamagata, M.S., C.R.C., and SRC chair Isidro Seman.

Through collaboration and cooperation, SRC made possible the travel to Rota of two NMPASI staffers, Tom Thornburgh and Greg Borja, both projects specialists, who presented on the topics of assistive technology and employment, as well as dignity and respect in the workforce.

Special acknowledgement is given to Lillian Ada, planner for the Council on Developmental Disabilities and SRC committee chairperson for Employment & Marketing, for coordinating the workshop in continued celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

The following agencies/organizations also provided support to the event: Council on Developmental Disabilities, Trankilu Alternative Financing Program, Northern Marianas College-University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, and Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

On Jan. 31, the OVR and SRC Team led by Yamagata and Seman, respectively, had the privilege of meeting with Rota Mayor Melchor Mendiola.

OVR and the Rota Mayor’s Office recently signed a memorandum of understanding pledging full support toward improving services to Rota residents with disabilities whose goal is employment. As a result of the MOU, the OVR and RMO established a Receiving Center at the old Mayor’s Office in Songsong Village, with Elizabeth Kani as the OVR-RMO liaison with responsibilities aimed to improve communication and coordination by providing logistical and technical support to both the VR counselor and applicants/consumers. Yamagata and Camacho facilitated a mini-training for Kani to help transition her smoothly into her new role.

The CNMI Department of Labor held their Job Fair at the Rota Mayor’s Office on Jan. 31. The OVR and SRC Team attended the job fair and took the opportunity to actively engage in discussions with employers and business owners about OVR’s training programs, including OJT and the importance of collaboration and partnership to yield greater employment success for Rota’s residents with disabilities. The companies that participated were Ace Hardware, Sasanhaya Service Station, Sinapalo Safeway, DK Brothers, and Kin & Rit Ent.

OVR’s mission is to increase employment and promote independence among eligible individuals with disabilities throughout the CNMI. As a partner, one of SRC’s important functions is to evaluate the effectiveness of the VR program and services to applicants/consumers with disabilities. (PR)

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