On-campus cleaning crews provided employment opportunity for local adults with disabilities

Aimee Hancock and Aimee Hancock

On-campus cleaning crews not only keep the University looking nice but they also serve as an employment opportunity for local adults with disabilities as well as students transitioning into the work force.

Originating in 1955, Wood Lane is a county agency located in Bowling Green that works to provide daily services for children and adults who have developmental disabilities.

The University employs 11 adults, ranging in age from 20 to 50 years old.

Wood Lane employee Jenny Cook oversees the workers during each shift and said that the job of the cleaning crew includes picking up trash and cigarette butts as well as clean-up after storms, which may leave debris across campus.

Cook also said that during the colder months, the cleaning crew will work inside and help with custodial services.

Marlene Rath said her son, Ryan, has worked for the University through Wood Lane for about 15 years. Rath said she thinks it is “wonderful that the University participates with Wood Lane” and that Ryan values his job and the work he does on campus.

Cook said that the members of the cleaning crew enjoy “being part of the University” and that they “take pride” in keeping the campus clean and looking nice.

While the cleaning crew used to work five days a week, some of these hours have been reduced due to financial cutbacks within the University.

Rath said that while Ryan used to work four days each week, his hours have been cut. He now works two days per week.

Lori Mozena said her son James works three days each week. Mozena said James has worked on the University’s cleaning crew for 13 years.

Although financial cuts have resulted in the drawback of hours given to cleaning crew members, Director of Campus Services Andrea Depinet said the University “appreciates Wood Lane” and values the employees and the work they put in to keeping the campus clean.

The University not only employees workers through Wood Lane but also offers a transition to work program through the PENTA Career Center, which is located in Perrysburg.

Depinet said the University approaches the Career Center and accepts five students each semester to participate in the program. Students gain real-world skills and experience by working with the University’s ground crew. Some of the duties that the ground crew are responsible for include snow removal, gardening, planting, stonework and trash clean up.

The program is an opportunity for “resume building,” said Depinet.

“We get the help, they get the experience,” Depinet said.