In 2007 Michael Ziegler began Young Adult Enrichment and Support Services (YESS) to combat the growing number of economically affected and developmentally challenged youth in Toledo and surrounding areas. “I started the YESS Program with an idea that the young adult population of the Developmentally Disabled community was in need of a program that better suited their needs in transitioning into adulthood and the many responsibilities that come with the move from youth to young adult,” says Ziegler.
His grandmother, Charlotte, founder of YESS’s parent company Ziegler Habilitation Homes Inc. and Ziegler’s former employer, exposed him to spending time with the developmentally disabled and inspired him to support these community members and help them achieve their goals. His grandfather and parents were also heavily involved. “My family has always had a passion for helping others with disabilities by offering support for them,” he says. “And as third generation in the field, I also have the same passion that my grandparents and parents have for the Developmentally Disabled population.”
YESS provides Lucas County’s only day programming for young adults ages 18 through 35 with developmental disabilities, including training in adult daily living skills through recreation, enrichment and community involvement; vocational training; supportive employment; and a Saturday recreation/enrichment program. In addition, YESS offers Urban Youth Works, a new jobs program created by Zeigler for young adults of all abilities based at the St. Stephens Training Center. Other programs in development include Media Mentor, a program that allows young adults to explore and develop their talents, as well as special courses for adults with autism.
With the national unemployment rate soaring to nearly 10 percent, and, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an unemployment rate of over 11 percent in the Toledo Metropolitan area, more and more job seekers are finding it hard to land jobs on their own. “Presently, during the current recession and the lack of employment,” says Ziegler, “jobs for disabled people are scarce and with fewer vocational opportunities available, YESS offers an age appropriate day program, as well as some work opportunities for young adults with developmental disabilities. When (the recession eventually ends), young adults who’ve acquired the necessary skills to secure employment in a better job market (can) fulfill their dreams of living independently in the community.”
When asked about YESS’ accomplishments, Ziegler points to the young adults enrolled in the program who have taken what they’ve learned and applied it to their lives. “It gives you the skills you need to be a mature adult,” says Kristina, who has moved into her own apartment since being enrolled in the YESS program.
Adding to the excitement of the organization’s success, Ziegler and his wife Patricia just recently welcomed their first child, Michael R. Zeigler III.
If you’d like to enroll in YESS or learn more, please call 419-535-5603.