Knox County Developmental Disabilities celebrates March with awards and special events

WNZR’s Marcy Rinehart talked with Brittany Coon, Public Outreach Coordinator with Knox County Developmental Disabilities.
Click HERE to hear the entire conversation.

March is Developmental Disabilities Month. Brittany shared some facts and history about this special month. She also shared about the special events happening with Knox County Developmental Disabilities this month.

They have a fun partnership event with Knox County Special Olympics and a local Cub Scout troop on March 23rd!  They are going to work together to put on a basketball skills competition in Bladensburg!

Every year, Knox County DD hosts a coloring and essay contest for all the children in public schools across Knox County.  This year they had 1,132 participants from 111 different classrooms, representing 12 different elementary schools in Knox County.  The winners will be announced soon and will be on display around the county at the following locations:

  • MVNU Education Department
  • Park National Bank- Fredericktown Branch
  • Park National Bank- Centerburg Branch
  • Park National Bank- Danville
  • Killbuck Savings Bank- Danville
  • Knox Board of DD

Brittany also shared details about the Developmental Disabilities Month Luncheon that happened on Wednesday, 3/8.

  • A children’s book called “We Move Together” by Kelly Fritsch, and Anne McGuire was introduced, and 15 copies were put up for bid in a live auction.  It is a bold and colorful exploration of all the ways that people navigate through the spaces around them and a celebration of the relationships we build along the way. 
  • They introduced a Coffee Cart that is just starting out here in Knox County.  It will be run by people with disabilities so they can learn job skills to hopefully help them get a job in the community one day.
  • A few essay submissions from the coloring and essay contest were shared. 
  • They had a Panel of different community members tell us about how they are working to make Knox County as inclusive as they can.
    • Chief Scott Mast and Brad Porter from the Fredericktown Community Fire District
    • Noelle Jordan from the Brown Family Environmental Center
    • Bill Hanna, the Vice President of Ver-Mac
    • Jocelyn Gilardi, a local advocate that works with the Mayor of Mount Vernon on the strategic planning steering committee

Individual Spotlight Award – This Award recognizes a person with a developmental disability who has overcome adversity to achieve or go beyond their goal. This year they are excited to give out two Individual Spotlight Awards.

  • The first winner is Diane Adkins.  She is a kind, warm and funny person who works hard.  She has been working at McDonald’s for 22 years in the dish area where she washes and puts away all kitchenware that comes her way.  She takes her work very seriously and enjoys laughing and joking with her co-workers. 
  • Our Second Individual Spotlight Award winner is Brad Porter.  He is known to be a great ambassador, a kind soul, and a bright spot in everyone’s day.  He has worked at Pioneer Food Services at MVNU since September 2009 dutifully washing dishes, cleaning the cafeteria, and bringing a bit of joy to everyone he meets.  He loves to be around town in the village of Fredericktown, talking to anyone who will enjoy his company. He loves going to the Homestead Restaurant and during his many visits there, he struck up a great relationship with Chief Scott Mast of the Fredericktown Community Fire District. During one of their meals together, Mast thought that he would love for Brad to be a part of the Fire Family, so he arranged for Brad to become an Honorary Firefighter for the village. Since swearing in, Brad has participated in meetings, training, helped wash the trucks and has been a community ambassador for the firehouse.

Community Partner Winner – This Award recognizes an individual, family member, staff person, volunteer or organization that has worked diligently to create partnerships and alliances within Knox County. This organization helps with creating an inclusive culture and environment for everyone to live, work and grow. 

  • The Community Partner Award for 2023 goes to HopeNow Furniture Bank of Knox County.  They have supported many individuals we support in being able to furnish their homes.  They have prioritized people supported by us, so they have the needed items in a timely manner.  The volunteers are compassionate, they take time to walk people through their warehouse and allow them the opportunity to choose their own items.  Knox County is fortunate to have HopeNow Furniture Bank as a wonderful resource in our community. 

Employer of the Year – This Award recognizes a community employer who employs people with a developmental disability. This employer always goes above and beyond the expectation to help the employee not only be successful in the workplace but thrive.

  • Licking/Knox Goodwill Industries is open, inclusive, and creative.  They have been a very supportive employer of people with disabilities.  The management team has gone through some changes but has never failed to provide exceptional support for all the people they employ.  They cultivate an environment of learning and growth, open communication, safety, security, and they embody their mission of employing and supporting people with disabilities.  They have nurtured individuals through job changes and process improvements while inspiring them to work together to achieve both individual and team-focused goals.

Dedication Award – This Award recognizes a person, direct care staff, or group of people who are extraordinary in giving their time to help others who have a developmental disability. They are selfless leaders and are always working towards promoting independence and making positive changes. The recipients of this award will showcase a passion for making advances in individual’s lives.  This year they have two winners for this category.

  • The first winner is Cherish Bell.  She has been a staple at New Hope Industries for 16 years.  She has been a direct support professional, habilitation specialist, and is now the HPC Coordinator.  She and her staff worked tirelessly during COVID to ensure everyone’s needs were met.  She is a good leader and advocate for her staff and continues to serve as a good resource for all New Hope Industries employees.  She attends meetings for individuals, sits on the MVDC Citizens Advisory Council and NHI’s Safety Council.  Cherish Bell is always willing to lend a hand to others even when her plate is full, and she does this without any hesitation.  Congratulations Cherish Bell!
  • The Second Dedication Award winner is Tassi Rine from A Step-Up Caregiver Homes.  She sits on the Knox County Task Force for Older Adults and assists with the Farmers Markets.  She includes the people she supports in ensuring the tokens are sanitized, bagged, labeled and are ready to be handed out at the next farmer’s market.  These markets help over 70 older adults in Knox County have access to healthy foods.  In addition to helping the Farmer’s Market thrive, she also is an asset to ensuring the Farm is a successful day program for adults with disabilities.  She is an amazing advocate for those she supports and gives them great, real-life advice on how to handle things.  Tassi spends a lot of time behind the scenes to ensure the people she supports are successful, that the greenhouse is well taken care of and the animals at the farm are healthy.  Tassi Rine with A Step-Up Caregiver Homes is our second Dedication Award winner.

Local Hero Award – The Local Hero Award recognizes someone from the community whose basic nature is to give without expecting anything in return. This person is a visionary; they promote healthy ideas, offer support and guidance to create improvements in the lives of people with developmental disabilities. 

  • The Local Hero Award Winner for 2023 is the Fredericktown Community Fire District Station 410.  They have helped Brad Porter, an adult in our program fulfil his dream of becoming a firefighter.   This past summer they held a special swearing-in ceremony for him to be sworn in as an honorary firefighter.  He has his own uniform, locker, has participated in all the training sessions and parties and has become an integral part of their programming.  The Fredericktown Community Fire District Station 410 is doing wonderful things for the village of Fredericktown and Brad Porter.  Congratulations to the Fredericktown Community Fire District Station 410.

Brittany also shared the main goals for 2023 for her team at Knox County Developmental Disabilities:

  • They are working on putting together an online education series for families that focuses on topics like school, employment, transitioning to adulthood – that kind of thing
  • They are working on learning about different opportunities for youth leadership to establish realistic avenues for youth with disabilities to fully participate in those options
  • They would like to create more sensory inclusive opportunities right here in Knox County like at the movies, SPI Spot, the YMCA, and maybe even at our local festivals
  • They are developing a local Ohio SIBS to increase support offered to siblings of children with disabilities.
  • They are working with MVNU to develop some programming for those with disabilities to participate academically and socially in a college experience. 
  • There is a 2023 Plan that you can access at their website

The office is open Monday through Friday 8:00am – 4:00pm. You can reach them at 740-397-4656
Their website is

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