I want to share an email from Pearl Buck Center’s Safety  and Forklift Training Program Coordinator; Mark Marzullo. It’s a great example of what can happen when people are persistent and receptive and willing to think outside of the box (or perceived ability).

May 10, 2016

When I was approached by one of the Community Employment Specialists (Linda Cox) back in October of 2015 saying she had a VR client who was interested in learning how to operate a forklift having had no previous experience I was wondering how we could make that happen.

At the time we were buried in Production work and all staff were already working overtime. I told her we would need to find a window of opportunity and a month went by. I was asked again but still we were buried. I was skeptical we could pull this off and admittedly I did not push. A very wise man who just happens to be our COO and financial guru spoke with me about something that was still a new concept for me at the time. He said (loosely quoted), we are Pearl Buck Center, we are in the business of improving lives, helping people reach their goals. Make it happen, Mark!


I went to two very key experienced resources Will & Jon (Pearl Buck Center Production department heads). They truly understood the PBC Mission that I was still learning. Well, of course, we will find the time. Well, of course, we can make it happen. We are Pearl Buck Center. That’s what we do. Wow was I humbled. Next John Whalen- PBC Operations Specialist/Business Developer, gave his blessing for whatever resources were needed and on December 1, 2015, we started training Lonnie Ofsthun.

Lonnie with pallet jack

It was a slow process. At times, it did not go well.  The pace seemed like two steps forward, one step back but all the while our staff never gave up. We solicited the help of Doug, another PBC Production staff, who was a prior VR client that came to the Community Employment Department seeking work, to lend his time and expertise. Doug helped bring us to the promised land with Lonnie and his training.


So here we are on 5-10-2016. We have completed our training and Lonnie successfully passed his practical evaluation. He now is certified through PBC as a Forklift Operator and Electric Pallet Jack Operator. Whether or not Lonnie ever gets a job using these skills will never take away the pure joy I saw in his eyes as shown in this photo.


That is what PBC is all about. Now more than ever…..I get it. Thanks to everyone who participated in this and for helping me grow as part of the PBC family.


Mark Marzullo

Safety Coordinator

Pearl Buck Center


  1. 1.
    delay or hold back in terms of progress, development, or accomplishment.
    “his progress was retarded by his limp”
    synonyms:delay, slow down, slow up, hold back, hold up, set back, postpone, put back, detain,decelerate;
The word retard dates as far back as 1426. It stems from the Latin verb, retardare, meaning to hinder or make slow. The English adopted the word and used it as similar meaning, slow and delayed. The first time the word “retard” was printed in American newspapers was in 1704. At this time, it was used in a way to describe the slowing down or the diminishing of something. The first time that any form of retard was used to describe mentally disabled people was during the 1960s when “there was a push among disability advocates to use the label mental retardation. This push from advocates was because older terms for the mentally disabled, like moron, imbecile, feeble-minded and idiot, had developed negative meanings. Retard was not used to refer to mentally disabled people until 1985. It was widely accepted to refer to people who are mentally disabled as mentally retarded, or as a retard. From there, it turned quickly into a pejorative term, as people began to use it interchangeably with words like stupid, or idiot. Many communities, particularly in North America, regard the word as no longer socially acceptable. The fact that it is still commonly used has led to a continuing debate. A common replacement is the phrase “the r-word.”
U.S. President Barack Obama signed S. 2781 into law on October 5, 2010. Known as Rosa’s Law, it is a bill that changed references in federal law; the term mental retardation was replaced by mental disability. Additionally, the phrase “mentally retarded individual” was replaced with “an individual with an intellectual disability”.  Rosa’s Law was named after Rosa Marcellino, a nine-year-old girl with Down Syndrome. She worked with her parents to have the words “mentally retarded” officially removed from health and education code in Maryland, her home state.With this new law, “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” no longer exist in federal health, or education and labor policy. The rights of individuals with disabilities will remain the same. The goal of this word removal was to remove language that may be considered hurtful from communities.
I came across this article (in a series of articles) that the Huffpost Impact blog has posted on the topic.
                           I Am the Person You Hurt When You Say the R-Word
03/05/2014 11:47 am ET | Updated May 05, 2014

Sometimes I feel like Professor Van Helsing, or maybe Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I keep trying to kill this thing and it just won’t die. Of course, my nemesis is the “r-word,” not a vampire.

Like Dracula, the r-word just sucks the life out of those of us who fall in its path. It spreads like an infection from person to person. It seems as though perfectly nice people who “mean no harm” get bitten by hearing others using the term while “meaning no harm.” And so it goes, from person to person, until it becomes so common that even Presidential Chiefs of Staff, radio talk show hosts, movie characters and famous political pundits use the nasty slur — then say they “meant no harm.”


To all of you who use it, let me say it one more time, THE R-WORD HURTS. You don’t have to aim the word directly at me to hurt me and millions of others like me who live with an intellectual disability. Every time a person uses the r-word, no matter who it is aimed at, it says to those who hear it that it is okay to use it. That’s how a slur becomes more and more common. That’s how people like me get to hear it over and over, even when you think we aren’t listening.


So, why am I hurt when I hear “retard.” Let’s face it, nobody uses the word as a term of praise. At best, it is used as another way of saying “stupid” or “loser.” At worst, it is aimed directly at me as a way to label me as an outcast — a thing, not a person. I am not stupid. I am not a loser. I am not a thing. I am a person.


It hurts me to think that people assume that I am less than a whole person. That is what is so awful about slurs. They are intended to make their target seem smaller, less of a person. People who live with an intellectual disability do not have an easy life. We have to fight to understand what the rest of you take for granted. We fight for education. We fight to live among the rest of you. We struggle to make friends. We often are ignored, even when we have something to say. We fight so hard to be seen as whole people. It hurts so much, after all that struggle, to hear you casually use a term that means that you assume we are less than whole.


How shall we respond to those of you who still use the r-word? Well, like Van Helsing and Buffy, we are going to aim at your heart. The only difference is that we are determined to drive a smile, not a stake, through your heart. Come join me on the side of the good guys. I promise you will feel better about yourself — and no other people will have to feel bad about themselves.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and the Special Olympics in conjunction with Spread the Word to End the Word awareness day on Wednesday, March 5. To find out more about the Spread the Word campaign, please visit the website. Join us in taking the pledge at R-Word.org. Read all posts in the series here.




Here is a video that I found on The Mighty site

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mayk4fXrL2w&w=560&h=315]

Here is an NPR piece on the topic of rethinking the word.


What do you think about this whole topic? We would love to hear from you, please post in the comments.



Meet Xavier. He’s a young man who knows what he wants and makes plans to acquire it. Take for instance his career goals; Xavier was dead set on finishing high school, getting his drivers license, and then getting a job. And so far he has been on track.

Xavier graduated from the Academy of Arts and Academics (A3) with a diploma, then he earned his driving license. He has access to his family’s manual transmission vehicle and gets around on his own.

A couple of the things that he wanted assistance with from Pearl Buck Center is to find a place to volunteer and getting certified as a forklift driver.



XB@NxtStp2Because Xavier is really into machines we hooked him up with NextStep Recycling for some volunteering. After volunteering for a week he said,”I feel good, I haven’t felt this good since high school-I can’t wait to find a job and work!”

Xavier says that he has always dreamed of working with big machinery and he has a natural interest in computers, having built one on his own when he was younger.

Xavier will begin forklift training for his certification  later this month and then he’ll be ready to find his first paying job.

Xavier will do well in a supportive environment that will give him instruction and hands- on training. He is interested in Warehouse work where he will be given the opportunity to drive a forklift  or make deliveries and perform repetitive tasks. He is seeking part time work, working about 15-20 hours per week.

If you have a need for someone like Xavier and can use him and his skills in your place of business, please contact his Job Developer, Lorie Polk – 541.484.4666 ext.5106 or lorie.polk@pearlbuckcenter.com to set up an interview.


Carly Fleischmann is nonverbal, but she’s become the voice of autism awareness. We posted about her on January 22 (Inspiring Individuals) and then referred to her again on January 29th (The Dancing Barista).

This young woman, who uses a communication device, and gained notoriety when a video giving insight to how she processes the world went viral in 2012. It’s since been viewed more than two million times, and brought well-deserved attention to her book “Carly’s Voice.

Four years later, Fleischmann has launched a web series “Speechless with Carly Fleischmann,” which she hosts. In its first episode, released on Friday, she sits down with actor Channing Tatum to discuss growing up, his marriage and his greatest fears. It’s a wonderfully entertaining interview in and of itself, and we hope it will do wonders for spreading awareness for people who use alternative methods of communication as well as what people with a disability can accomplish if given encouragement and support.

Watch the first episode.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a34qMg0aF6w&w=560&h=315]

Can’t wait to see what she aspires to next.

Sophie came to Pearl Buck Center seeking help with figuring out what kind of job she would be good at. Linda Cox; a Job Developer and Discovery Agent, worked with Sophie to determine her skills, interests, and aptitudes. Prior to completing the Discovery process, Linda was able to find and secure a position with Selco Credit Union for Sophie.

Linda assisted Sophie with her new job where she converts microfiche documents into paper files, where they will be converted to digital. It is a very tedious process, but one that Sophie has taken to with success.

Here is a letter Sophie’s mother wrote about her daughter’s experience:


My daughter Sophie, age 34, completed high school and went on to study two years of Mandarin language classes at UO.  She enjoyed her classes, but is basically very shy and has always had difficulty in socializing.  She was very keen on starting a job, but was unable to find paid employment to her liking. 

 Linda Cox at Pearl Buck Center began the discovery process to determine Sophie’s interests and skills for a suitable job.  Within a few short weeks, even before completion of the discovery process, Linda was able to find an ideal job for Sophie.  Linda’s encouragement and support for Sophie is always strong and ongoing.  Linda is constantly in touch with Sophie, and often accompanies her to her place of employment to train and help improve her work habits. 

 IMG_0196Sophie now is more self-confident, and I was told that Sophie has started to talk and socialize a little with her co-workers.  She feels so proud to be earning a salary.  Thanks to Pearl Buck Center, and to Linda for her warm and caring support, Sophie is seeing a great improvement in her life. 


Umaima Barma


Here is Watch Mojo‘s countdown to their top 10 inspirational people with Autism and Aspergers Syndrome. These are the people whom they feel have broadened our world view. After watching the video let us know, in the comments section, who you would have added to this list.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoqnPZXLGVA&w=560&h=315]

SoulPancake’s Class Act video about a teacher at Lawton Middle School in San Francisco is inspiring, touching andcoffee-stains-vector-581792 shows how something small like a coffee cart can make a huge difference in the lives of teachers & students alike.

What’s great about this idea, which isn’t new here in some of Eugene’s High Schools, is that Ms. Guthrie has introduced it in the middle school setting. I love this becasue it shows that it’s never to early to start learning real life transferable skills.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1dBa6f0qyk&w=560&h=315]





Meet Beth, she’s a gentle, quiet, observant individual, who once given instruction is able Beth Whislerto carry out her tasks without further input from others.


She came to Pearl Buck Center seeking part time work either stocking, cleaning tables or washing and folding laundry. Beth had a very part time job as a lobby attendant at Burger King in Cottage Grove but desired more hours.

In 2014 we were able to find her a job at the Downtown Athletic Club (DAC), where she keeps a fast pace, cleaning the female locker room and washing & folding laundry.

Congratulations, Beth for doing your best to keep up with the work needed and maintaining a clean and welcoming space for the patrons of the DAC.



These selected pages answer some of the most basic, but also some of the most important, questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim for disability benefits.





Facts about the condition

1. Developmental delays are usually caused by a variety of life-long conditions categorized as developmental disabilities (DD). Developmental disabilities include Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, and cerebral palsy, all conditions also referred to as special needs.

2. Developmental delay refers to mental and physical characteristics below the level of other individuals at the same age. These impairments affect daily functioning in a variety of ways, including learning, language, mobility and coordination. Those with developmental disabilities are often less equipped to care for and economically support themselves in adulthood.

3. In 1970 the United States Congress created a law for those with developmental disabilities who were often confined to institutions, to protect the individuals and improve conditions. The current version of law requires acceptance and inclusion of those with developmental disabilities into the community and ensures better care and treatment.

4. Developmental disabilities are classified into severe, profound, moderate, and mild. Treatment and care are based on these classifications. The goal of treatment is typically to increase independence in daily activities and to help the individual reach their full capacity in all areas of development.

5. Individuals with developmental disabilities often require some level of care for their entire lives, although this varies from person to person and is based on each individual’s unique abilities and impairments.

6. Individualized care and treatment plans may include a variety of therapy techniques. Respite services are available for families who care for individuals with developmental disabilities at home. Transportation services including free bus passes or shuttles are available in many places.

7. Advocacy for developmental disabilities continues to grow. Advocates help individuals and families navigate ‘the system’ (including schools and social welfare programs). They also work for changes in policy and legislation, often directly with those who have developmental disabilities in an attempt to increase self-advocacy and independence for those with DD.

Qualifying for disability benefits with this condition

Whether or not you qualify for disability and, as a result, are approved for disability benefits will depend entirely on the information obtained from your medical records.

This includes whatever statements and treatment notes that may have been obtained from your treating physician (a doctor who has a history of treating your condition and is, therefore, qualified to comment as to your condition and prognosis). It also includes discharge summaries from hospital stays, reports of imaging studies (such as X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans) and lab panels (i.e. bloodwork) as well as reports from physical therapy.

In many disability claims, it may also include the results of a report issued by an independent physician who examines you at the request of the Social Security Administration.

Qualifying for SSD or SSI benefits will also depend on the information obtained from your vocational, or work, history if you are an adult, or academic records if you are a minor-age child. In the case of adults, your work history information will allow a disability examiner (examiners make decisions at the initial claim and reconsideration appeal levels, but not at the hearing level where a judges decides the outcome of the case) to A) classify your past work, B) determine the physical and mental demands of your past work, C) decide if you can go back to a past job, and D) whether or not you have the ability to switch to some type of other work.

The important thing to keep in mind is that the social security administration does not award benefits based on simply having a condition, but, instead, will base an approval or denial on the extent to which a condition causes functional limitations. Functional limitations can be great enough to make work activity not possible (or, for a child, make it impossible to engage in age-appropriate activities).

Why are so many disability cases lost at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels?

There are several reasons but here are just two:

1) Social Security makes no attempt to obtain a statement from a claimant’s treating physician. By contrast, at the hearing level, a claimant’s disability attorney or disability representative will generally obtain and present this type of statement to a judge.

Note: it is not enough for a doctor to simply state that their patient is disabled. To satisfy Social Security’s requirements, the physician must list in what ways and to what extent the individual is functionally limited. For this reason, many representatives and attorneys request that the physician fills out and sign a specialized medical source statement that captures the correct information. Solid Supporting statements from physicians easily make the difference between winning or losing a disability case at the hearing level.

2) Prior to the hearing level, a claimant will not have the opportunity to explain how their condition limits them, nor will their attorney or representative have the opportunity to make a presentation based on the evidence of the case. This is because, at the initial levels of the disability system, a disability examiner decides the case without meeting the claimant. The examiner may contact the claimant to gather information on activities of daily living and with regard to medical treatment or past jobs, but usually nothing more. At the hearing level, however, presenting an argument for approval based on medical evidence that has been obtained and submitted is exactly what happens.

Source: Social Security Disability SSI Resource Center


Kyle Brown has been happily working at the Springfield Mall for ERMC Total Facility Management since 2012.
Kyle came to us seeking work where he would be able to be more independent. He had been working at  Columbia Beverage, in an enclave situation and he wanted less supervision with more responsibility.

Doris found him a job as a janitor in the Springfield Mall. Kyle took to his tasks  with ease. Harold the manager, was very pleased with the work that Kyle provided. He said that “he could count on Kyle to come in whenever he called.” Harold was really impressed with the fact that Kyle was ready to fill in on a moments notice.

Kyle is very respectful and courteous with the patrons of the mall, willing to assist whenever possible. bg1

Kyle told me that he  “enjoys working because it gives him freedom. I’m glad that I chose Pearl Buck Center to help me get this job and especially glad that the Marriott job fell through and that Harold called me because I really like this job.”  When I asked Kyle what exactly he liked about his job he responded, “I like the hours and that I get everything done and work is over in two days.”

Kyle told me that he has “nothing but good things to say about Pearl Buck Center Community Employment Services and I would recommend other people in my similar situation to have Pearl Buck Center assist with job search because they helped me and they don’t smother me and let me work.”  He likes and gets along with his co-workers – and there’s not one person that he regrets having to work with.

We are happy to have been part of Kyle’s success!