BOWLING GREEN - Dr. Beth Rohrbacher was blind. Wood County Sheriff's Sgt. Ruth Babel had only partial use of one hand. State Sen. Randy Gardner was in a wheelchair with only partial use of his right hand.
They were among 21 people who went to school or work at Wood Lane Industries yesterday morning to get a feel for what the developmentally disabled live with on a daily basis.
Adaptation and flexibility were the words for the day.
With a blindfold over her eyes, Dr. Rohrbacher, director of pupil personnel services for Perrysburg schools, was given the task of sorting large and small inhaler cannisters. She didn't even know what she was handling, without a little help from Deb Teneyck, a Wood Lane Industries employee.
“What am I sorting here, Deb?” Dr. Rohrbacher asked.
“They're for people with asthma,” Ms. Teneyck explained.
Wood Lane Industries had the task of disassembling and sorting about 2.4 million inhalers that either had old expiration dates or were filled with the wrong medication, said Todd Lashuay, production specialist.
Sergeant Babel was seated next to Eric Hartz, a young man with cerebral palsy and a big smile. After she used her one good hand to place a small plastic package into a sealing machine, she tapped a red button when she had the bag in place. The button set off a light bulb, which was Mr. Hartz's cue to hit the yellow button that activated the sealer.
Both did their jobs with precision.
Some of the work and processes seemed tedious, but on a daily basis Wood Lane Industries provides job skills, work, and a paycheck for more than 100 mentally retarded adults.
“I'm not sure it's something I'd want to do all day,” Dr. Rohrbacher said after finishing up her first batch of parts
Mr. Gardner and State Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green), who had use of only his left thumb, were put to work turning socks for hospital patients inside out on a jig and inserting a cardboard backing. It wasn't easy, and Mr. Lashuay admitted it wasn't likely he would give such a job to anyone with so little hand mobility - “unless they really wanted to do it,” he said.
In remarks before the work began, Mr. Latta said he had seen many schools in his career but had always been impressed with what he saw happening between the Wood Lane staff and the people who use its services.
“It's a loving relationship, and that's the best way to say it,” he said.