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Sharpsburg-based Working Order finalist for international award

| Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Director of Working Order Marty Stahl helped over 200 businesses to create their own brand through the Volunteers of America program in Sharpsburg.

A Sharpsburg-based nonprofit group that helps disadvantaged and disabled people create self-employment seems to be getting the job done.

Working Order, part of the Volunteers of America of Pennsylvania, is nominated for a National Business Incubation Association award. The group is up for the 2014 Dinah Adkins Incubator of the Year award.

The winner will be announced May 20 at NBIA's 28th International Conference in New Orleans.

“Barriers can limit employment options for people with disabilities,” said Pat Serey, Volunteers of America's chief development and marketing officer and vice president.

“Our Working Order program does an excellent job of helping the people we serve overcome such barriers. We are humbled and honored to be one of only two finalists internationally for this NBIA recognition.”

Founded in 1996, Working Order serves people who are low-income and are challenged by disability or illness.

“We help those navigating the aging process, those with a lack of education and those facing discrimination or lack of acceptance in the work place,” Working Order Director Marty Stahl said.

“Our biggest success is providing the inclusive environment of opportunity and hope for those who are determined to succeed,” she said. “These individuals choose self-employment as their best-fit work option.”

In 2013, Working Order served 82 people with the aim of increasing their independence through education and entrepreneurship.

The program hosts three monthly meetings to provide tools to people to devise self-employment opportunities.

One is a brown bag lunch that offers tools on topics, such as taxes, databases and marketing, that are important to small business owners, Stahl said.

Another is a breakfast that focuses on connecting people interested in a certain topic, such as how to keep working with a diagnosis of muscular dystrophy.

Stahl said participants find traditional employment requirements difficult because of challenges that range from health issues, transportation and the need for additional support on the job.

Since 1996, Working Order has served more than 630 people in the greater Pittsburgh area; 203 of them have launched or grown their businesses in fields that include graphic design, bookkeeping, tax preparation, grant writing, hair styling, cleaning services, massage therapy, sculpture, dog training, lawn care and golf instruction. Working Order joined Volunteers of America in 2006.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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