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‘Working in the Gorge’ event celebrates staff

Jonathan Marvel (left) and his employer Brent Clapp were two of the keynote speakers at the Mid-Columbia Employment First Employer/Employee Recognition Event, held Oct. 3 in Hood River.

Photo by Angela Yeager
Jonathan Marvel (left) and his employer Brent Clapp were two of the keynote speakers at the Mid-Columbia Employment First Employer/Employee Recognition Event, held Oct. 3 in Hood River.

The Mid-Columbia Employment First team on Oct. 3 held “Working in the Gorge,” an employer and employee recognition event, to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month, held at Best Western Plus Hood River Inn.

More than 120 attendees, including employees and employers from Hood River, Cascade Locks, and The Dalles, celebrated accomplishments in the local area, according to Angela Yaeger, communications officer with the state Office of Developmental Disabilities.

Robert Crooks from Eastern Oregon Center for Independent Living served as emcee. Keynote speakers included Jonathan Marvel and his employer Brent Clapp, with Brent Clapp Media/Anything 2 Digital; Ashley DeRushé, employee with Mid-Columbia Medical Center, Eric Nisley, Wasco County District Attorney, and Kurt Cochran, an employee with two local jobs including Beachwood Eatery and Wasco County District Attorney’s Office.

“I believe in contributing to my community and earning a paycheck,” Cochran said. “I’ve got one blue collar job and one white collar job so I like to say that all together, I am sky blue.”

Cochran’s employer said his work is highly valued.

“Kurt arrives early and stays late,” Nisley said. “His work ethic is incredible.”

Awards went to employees and employers to recognize local accomplishments:

Large Employer of the Year: Safeway, Hood River

Small Employer of the Year: Thunder Island Brewing Co., Cascade Locks

Longevity Award (employer): Best Western Plus Hood River Inn

Longevity Award (employees): Brad Divish with St. Vincent DePaul in The Dalles and Ashley DeRushé with Mid-Columbia Medical Center

Best New Employers: Wasco County District Attorney’s Office and Aromé in Hood River

Dream Job: Kurt Cochran with Beachwood Eatery and Wasco County District Attorney’s Offices

Most Dedicated Employee: Sierra Bigelow, with Aromé

Most Resilient Employee: Brandy Riggs, with the Hood River Hotel

Oregon’s Employment First initiative highlights benefits of paid, integrated work in community jobs for people with disabilities.

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