POMEROY — Mary J. Miller, a Meigs County resident, felt there needed to be another option for those with disabilities in Meigs County to have a safe place all for themselves during the day — a place where they could be with others like them, who would understand them and could have fun with them.
So she created a safe space herself.
With more than 25 years working with children and adults with disabilities, Mary and her husband, Doug, decided they wanted to be co-founders of Inclusions LLC., located at 102 W. Main St. in Pomeroy, which is licensed through the Ohio Department of Disabilities. The business opened last October.
Miller said one reason she felt the need to create this was because of the limited options for people with disabilities to go if they wanted to leave the house, although she praised Carleton School and Meigs Industries.
“There were no (more) options for people with disabilities,” she said. “The only option (was) to go to Carleton or stay home.”
Now, on any given day, take a walk down on Main Street and visit Inclusions. You’ll find people watching movies, playing music, napping or whatever they feel they want to do.
“I love it,” Mary said. “It does not feel like it’s a job. I get to come have fun, interact with people, socialization. I get to learn about things. Sometimes they want to do somethings out of my comfort zone, things that have forced me to go out of my comfort zone.”
Mary said she didn’t want a company name that was too long and turned into an acronym that didn’t make sense to anyone who saw it on the street. So when her husband came up with the name “Inclusions,” she knew it was perfect.
“It’s about being included,” she said.
The group not only hangs out together during the day at Inclusions, but they also plan weekend or evening outings to a zoo, a mall, a farmers market or anything within their means that strikes their fancy. Mary said there are usually five to 10 people at Inclusions per day, with some only coming once a week, some making an appearance every weekday, and some splitting their time between Inclusions and Meigs Industries, including recent employee Lacey Grate, 20, 0f Pomeroy.
Regulars at Inclusions are also given their own designated wall space to hang up whatever they want that represents them — a home away from home.
For Michael Batton, 29, of Middleport, Inclusions has, indeed, become a home away from home.
“People need to look at the beautiful side of people with disabilities,” he said. “I’m hardly ever home anymore since I came to Inclusions.”
Batton, who has autism, also said that one thing he loves about Inclusions is he’s able to meet with other people and dispel the stereotype of autism.
“I’m fine with noise, people can touch me, everybody’s different,” he said. “You can’t put somebody in a box; you can’t label them.”
Mary said she wants to get the word out about Inclusions as much as she can so that the community knows there’s an outlet — particularly those with a disability.
“We want to continue to grow and be a big part of our community,” she said. “We want people to recognize the folks at Inclusions (want) to be part of the community because lots of people don’t have that opportunity.”
Mary said that not only is she doing what she loves at Inclusions, but she’s made friends she knows she’ll never lose.
“I want to be part of these peoples’ lives forever, and I want them to be part of my life forever because we’ve forged those friendships. It’s more than just work, it’s a part of my life, and I think these guys feel the same way. It’s part of their lives, it’s part of what they do, and they’re here to stay.”
Mandy Jeffers, 38, of Syracuse, who can be frequently found at Inclusions, concurred.
“We’re not going anywhere,” she said.
For anyone who wants more information or a first-hand experience of Inclusions, an open house will be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 12. March is also Disability Awareness Month, and this will allow those who are curious to see that those with disabilities still have many of the same abilities as anyone else.
There will be a live remote broadcast of the event, along with prizes and free gifts.
For more information call Mary at 740-416-3055.
Reach Lindsay Kriz at 740-992-2155 EXT. 2555.