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OVR surprises employment coach with award

Jane Black, employment and financial coach in Mon Valley Initiative’s Mid-Mon Office, was surprised March 5 when representatives of the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation presented her with an OVR Business Award.

Shown presenting the award to Jane (third from left) are Jeffrey Durmis and Joanne Slappo, both vocational rehabilitation counselors; and Danielle Dawgiello, vocational rehabilitation supervisor, all from the Washington, Pa., office.

“I was worried that I had done something wrong!” Black says, joking. “It was very nice of them,” she adds, saying she was overcome with emotion by the surprise.

In an accompanying letter that was sent to MVI’s board of directors, Darla Openbrier, Washington County district administrator for OVR, says “Jane has proven herself to be an amazing resource within the community for not only its constituents, but also for other providers … Even though MVI only (opened) the Charleroi location approximately one year ago, the positive impact that both Jane Black and MVI have brought to this community has been huge.”

Mon Valley Initiative is a regional community development corporation that provides employment counseling, job-search help, financial coaching, housing counseling and other free services to local residents. The Mid-Mon Office, located at 435 McKean Ave., serves residents of Washington, Westmoreland and Fayette counties.

“Jane has been an amazing partner in helping individuals with disabilities obtain employment,” Openbrier says. ”She is constantly interacting with OVR staff to share potential job leads and resources … (and) has helped establish a mutually beneficial referral relationship.”

A graduate of Point Park University, Black worked in community health care at several agencies in Western Pennsylvania before becoming an MVI employment coach in December 2018. had previously served MVI as a program manager in the mid-1990s. Black lives in Bethel Park.

MVI Chief Executive Officer Laura R. Zinski says the agency is proud of Black’s work and “very pleased” with the recognition from OVR.

Response in the Mid-Mon Valley to MVI’s workforce development services has been enthusiastic, Zinski says, and the agency is currently recruiting an intake coordinator specifically to work with Black to serve clients in Charleroi, Donora, Monessen and the surrounding communities.

“Thanks to Jane and all the staff as we work to create productive partnerships to best serve program participants,” Zinski says. “It’s nice to see that it is appreciated.”

Mon Valley Initiative