David Gessler: Driving Towards Independence and Success
David Gessler, a Mingo Junction resident, is embarking on a journey towards a brighter future as he sets his sights on the open road. Gessler’s story perfectly embodies the spirit of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which is celebrated throughout October. This annual event recognizes and appreciates the contributions of workers with disabilities, showcasing inclusive employment policies that benefit both employers and employees.
Adhering to this year’s theme, “Advancing Access and Equity,” which marks the 50th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Gessler has not only secured a job but is also studying to obtain his driver’s permit. His determination for independence knows no bounds.
A recent graduate of Catholic Central High School, Gessler has been working with Angela Loppe Goodrich from the Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities’ Community Employment Services and Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities. With their support, he has found employment with Parkhurst Dining at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. However, Gessler aspires to create his own path, which makes obtaining a driver’s permit essential.
Although he has only been at Parkhurst for a month, Gessler’s responsibilities have expanded from being a dining room attendant to assisting in the dish room and being a runner between dining rooms. He takes great pride in his work and cherishes the relationships he has built with his co-workers.
Gessler expresses his gratitude for the opportunities he has been given, saying, “My job has turned out fantastic. One of the biggest accomplishments is I’m friends with so many people at Franciscan University. It feels like friends and family. I am really thankful and it’s been my privilege to honor and demonstrate the company’s values. My job is to show support for the entirety of Parkhurst and to respect their time and help them out.”
Parkhurst Dining has been incredibly accommodating to Gessler’s needs, ensuring that his employment and schedule align harmoniously. Goodrich commends Gessler’s exceptional attitude and work ethic, stating, “David is a breath of fresh air. He has a great attitude and a great work ethic and is all about the team being successful where he’s working.”
In addition to his job, Gessler has set his sights on acquiring his driver’s license. With the assistance of Goodrich, he is studying the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles handbook and taking online and written practice tests in preparation for the official exam. Goodrich reveals, “We’ve helped 12 or 15 people and everyone so far has obtained a permit. We study the signs and it takes a lot of time to learn it well. The more you study, you’ll do fine on the test.”
Gessler’s eagerness to drive stems not only from the desire for personal independence but also from his desire to help his family. With six siblings, three of whom still live at home, Gessler wants to assist his parents by transporting his younger family members around the community.
Looking towards the future, Gessler’s passion lies in the arts, particularly in lighting and sound production for theater. He was actively involved in the Catholic Central High School drama club, the national honor society, and the national thespian society. While he dreams of pursuing a career in this field, his immediate focus is on obtaining his license, saving money to buy a car, and gradually pursuing his aspirations.
Gessler concludes with optimism, saying, “My second main goal in life is to have a car and give my youngest siblings and nieces and nephews a ride. We’ll see where the dear Lord wants me to go.”
In an era where inclusivity and empowerment are valued, David Gessler’s journey towards independence serves as an inspiration to all. Through his dedication, resilience, and unwavering determination, Gessler is living proof that with the right support and opportunities, individuals with disabilities can achieve their goals and thrive in the workforce.