For many of us, starting a new job may come with feelings of excitement “I can’t wait to get started learning new skills and meeting new people!” coupled with feelings of apprehension “What if I don’t learn quickly enough or what if my new coworkers don’t like me?” And if you are a person living with a disability, you might be feeling some of those same emotions on a much more extreme level. In 2021, the employment rate for individuals with a disability was 19.1% compared to 63.7% for non-disabled persons. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021).

At Progress Industries, we work to reduce the feelings of apprehension and over time we see our employees are excited to work! Progress Industries’ highly trained and experienced staff understand the unique challenges of working in a manufacturing setting while living with a behavioral health diagnosis, a hearing impairment, or physical limitation and offer individualized support to reduce or remove the impact of those challenges. We accomplish this by providing accommodations not yet provided in many other employment settings. Many of our employees come to Progress Industries because they have struggled to obtain or maintain employment in the community. Progress Industries serves as a perfect transitional step toward improving outcomes in areas such as self-direction, communication, or building work-skills and tolerance.

We do this by adapting the workplace to the person, rather than trying to make the person fit our workplace. In a practical sense, this may include us offering written instructions to someone who struggles with following verbal directions or color-coding job steps with attached pictures for someone who processes written information differently. For others, the accommodations are as simple as modifying job tasks and work schedules to fit the unique needs and abilities of the employee. For nearly all employees, the accommodations offered at Progress Industries are easily transferable with the help of our professionals in collaboration with our employees’ new workplace. Our employment specialists and job coaches are familiar with many of the accommodations available through the Americans with Disabilities Act and serve as advocates on the employee’s behalf when necessary.

Ultimately, Progress Industries is intended to be a transitional employment setting for individuals with barriers to their community employment goals. Progress Industries couples the ‘hard-skills’ of assembly, quality control and inspection, machine operation, and packaging with the ‘soft-skills’ of teamwork, following instructions, problem solving, and working at a steady or sustained pace and does so by serving the industrial community of Mansfield and Richland County with quality manufacturing solutions.

Progress Industries is incredibly proud of its dedicated and highly capable workforce. We have seen individuals grow far beyond their wildest dreams and we aim to continue to show our employees how much they are capable of. With our help, our employees look forward to coming to work each day and see each workday as a new opportunity and not a challenge. At Progress Industries, work is for everyone.

Watch this success story to learn more about Progress Industries and the impact made in employee’s lives.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021, February 24). PERSONS WITH A DISABILITY: LABOR FORCE CHARACTERISTICS — 2021. Retrieved from Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Mitch Jacobsen has been with the agency for over seven years and serves as the Director of Vocational Services. Previously, he has worked with the agency as an employment specialist and production supervisor in the Progress Industries manufacturing workshop. Mitch is responsible for the management of workforce development programming and oversight of the industrial workshop and embroidery and print shop. Mitch serves as the agency’s representative to the Area 10 Workforce Development Board and Regional Manufacturing Coalition and has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from The Ohio State University.  Mitch is a Catalyst for Progress.

Lt. Robert Skropits from the Mansfield City Policy Department contacted us about teaching an American Sign Language class to a group of their officers from different shifts and departments. The goal of the class was to teach basic American Sign Language so that officers could communicate with Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing individuals in the community until an interpreter was able to arrive on the scene. The class began on October 27th and was a 20-hour class over five weeks. We had 7 officers complete the course.

The officers learned how to:

  • describe people
  • describe houses
  • ask if someone is injured
  • talk about food
  • talk about the weather
  • ask basic questions
  • talk about places in the community
  • talk about people
  • talk about feelings
  • the alphabet
  • numbers
  • Miranda Warning

“This training is important to our community because access to information when it comes to interactions with law enforcement is vital to reducing wrongful arrests and maintaining the safety of all involved.” said, Tanya Haga, M.Ed., MBA, NIC, Director of Deaf Services at Catalyst Life Services.

Community and family American Sign Language classes are available at Catalyst Life Services. For more information or to add yourself to the waiting/mailing list contact Catalyst Deaf Services at (419) 774-2232.

Is This Your Family?

Having to manage your child’s behavior is stressful. When your child misbehaves do you question what you are doing to manage the situation is working or making the child act out more or longer? Do you dread dealing with enforcing the morning or bedtime routines, since it seems like a constant fight? Do you find yourself repeating instructions over and over again in order to get your child to pick up their toys or eat their food? Do you feel overwhelmed with your child biting, fighting or hitting and you don’t know what to do to get it to stop?!?!?!?

If this sounds familiar, then The Positive Parenting Program is here to help! Triple P offers parents support to manage behavioral challenges and help make parenting more enjoyable.

Could You Use Some Support?

A Triple P Provider can meet with you one-on-one or in a group setting. You will receive assistance in identifying your goals and gain tools to help make positive changes in your child’s behavior. When you’re finished with the program you will feel more confident with tackling the most challenging situations in your home.

Ready To Get Started?

The Triple P Program is a FREE service to parents residing in Richland County! Contact Joy Moore, LSW at Catalyst Life Services to get started. Joy can be reached at 419-774-6866.

Let’s be honest:  many of us dread the holidays.  As much as we love our families, we kind of dread the idea of seeing those “extended” family members and rehash some of the old stories, or arguments, or even grudges.  Some might dread the holiday season because the pain of being cut off from family becomes all the more real during a time when others seem to revel in reunions with family near and far.  When others seem to be experiencing so much joy, how do you cope with your own pain – or pains in the you-know-what?


Instead of dread, I would challenge each of us to approach the holiday season with a sense of gratitude.  How, you might ask?  How in the world can you experience gratitude if you have recently experienced loss, for instance.  How might one experience or express gratitude, especially if you are lonely and isolated from family?  Well, great questions – let’s explore how to shift the mindset from dread and sadness to gratitude and peace:

  • Be intentional: It is so important to be deliberate about thinking about anything for which you are grateful.  It could be the smallest thing, such as the sun peaking out for a brief moment, or something bigger.  Whatever it is, being intentional about finding something to be thankful for is an effort to be made, every single day.
  • Be gentle with yourself: Remember these are difficult times, for all the reasons you can list.  Give yourself grace and patience.  If you are a little more teary, then so be it.  If you are extra tired, then let yourself rest.  You will not always be this way, so be your own best friend and take extra care of yourself during this time.
  • Find the good: If you find your brain wandering off into a bad place or if you feel like you are going into “woe is me” mode, then switch into finding the good.  What is good RIGHT NOW?  What good happened today?  What good is coming up?  Look around you and find the good in your space.  However and wherever, find the good.
  • Get out: At least once per day, as you are able, get outside.  Even if it is to walk to the mailbox or the end of the road, get outside.  Even if it’s cold.  Even if it’s dark.  Get outside and feel the brisk air, the wind, the snow (?).  Look at the lights in the dark and how they brighten up the skyline.  We all do better when we breathe some fresh air, even if briefly.  So GET OUT!
  • Move your body: Walk around your space inside or go to the mall and walk around.  Or walk around Walmart!  It doesn’t matter where you go, it only matters that you move.  You can even dance in your room if that feels better.  Moving your body at least once a day can help lift your spirits and your mood.
  • Reach out: Find someone or somewhere to connect with others.  It could be through an online group, or through a local church, or even with someone you haven’t seen in a while.  Reaching out to others and making that connection can help lighten the load during this holiday time.  Take advantage of the goodwill people are likely to offer!
  • Relive happy times: Have some positive memories from childhood Christmases?  Holiday traditions which have gone away?  Perhaps there is something you’ve always wanted to experience but never have.  Well, DO IT!  Watch that movie, or go see that light display, or go to the community event.
  • Embrace the memories: Many times, we try to avoid memories of those we have lost because we miss them so much.  Instead, I challenge you to embrace the memories; let yourself remember all of those wonderful times.  They don’t cease to exist because the person is gone or no longer in your life.  Relish the memories, and then make a commitment to yourself to create new ones with the people in your life now.  Or better yet, make a commitment to create new memories with YOU!
  • Give others grace: We know the holidays can be stressful for everyone.  Be patient with those around you and remember that others may be struggling too.  Even those hard-to-handle family members need a little extra love during this time.  Remind yourself to extend some goodwill their way while maintaining good boundaries so you protect your own mental health at the same time!
  • Be still: Find the peace in each day.  Allow yourself a moment (or 10) to sit still, to be quiet, to take some deep breaths.  Simply let yourself BE.  Give yourself permission to stop running and sit peacefully.  You might be surprised what “good” you find 😊


Erin Schaefer, PCC-S, IMFT-S, is the Executive Vice President/Executive Director at Catalyst Life Services.  She received a masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pacific Lutheran University in 1997 and a masters in Marriage and Family Therapy/Counseling in 2002 from the University of Akron.  Erin has worked in community mental health for over 20 years.  She was also director of Ashland Parenting Plus, a small nonprofit agency focused on teen pregnancy prevention, juvenile diversion, and parent education.  She served on the board and as president of the Ohio Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and also on the board of directors of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy from 2011-2013, and is currently the Treasurer. She has been a member of AAMFT since 1997 and is a Clinical Fellow.  Erin is a Catalyst for Empathy.

The words “back to school” causes such a wide range of emotions for students. Children with healthy social skills and good academic standings may feel excitement; eager to see their friends and meet their teachers. For those who struggle socially or academically, instead they may have a sense of dread or anxiety. The new year could already be viewed as a disappointment when they assume they will fail another class, not be able to control their behaviors and be labeled as the ‘bad kid,’ or sit alone for another nine months at lunch. The challenges of academic ability, behaviors, and mental health all need different interventions, but they do all need met with understanding. Learning how to understand your child’s concerns of going back to school start with communication on the adult’s end.

“There’s a precious, fine line of allowing children to learn self-regulating skills and being near to model appropriate coping.”

Rachel Hawkins, LISW-S

Many guardians think, “I want to respect my kid wanting his space. If he wants to talk to me, he will.” There’s a precious, fine line of allowing children to learn self-regulating skills and being near to model appropriate coping. When too much time passes between check-ins, a new normal of distance is created between child and guardian. The child may think irrationally the guardian ‘doesn’t care’ or ‘won’t understand’ and the guardian begins believing their child wants nothing to do with them. Not letting the distance be created in the first place is encouraged, but there is always a plan B if you feel it’s already begun.

There are no ‘three strikes, you’re out’ when it comes to being rejected by your kid for a conversation. Now, being overbearing won’t make it any better, but making it a point to stay involved with your child’s life and interests will get noticed. Show up to your kids’ events, ask what they like about their friends, be curious on what level they’ve made it to in their favorite video games. Even if it’s watching their favorite show with them in silence, it’s connection. If you can take baby steps to get them talking to you about small things again, while you listen, maybe it will lead to the topics that really matter.

If you are aware your kid’s having heightened emotions about school, use questions that do not put thoughts into her mind. For example, “What do you think will be different about this school year?” or “How can this year be different than last?” vs. “What are you most worried about?” Go into the conversation with the goal to listen/connect and not teach/give advice.

Best of luck to all the kiddos and guardians on a successful year!

Rachel Hawkins, LISW-S, is a Social Worker Child & Adolescent Therapist who is staffed at Mansfield Senior High School. She has worked for Catalyst Life Services for six years. In that time, she has had the opportunity to provide therapy services, family therapy, school support, and parenting classes through Triple P Positive Parenting. Her current position allows her to connect students back to Catalyst who are in need of ongoing services and support communication between school staff and guardians.

For more information on our mental health services visit our website at Mental Health & Crisis Services – Catalyst Life Services or call our 24/7 helpline 419-522-HELP(4357).

Tomorrow is the day to “Watch it Happen!”

Did you know?

The Virtual Rehab Telethon is TOMORROW, Saturday – February 5th from 11am-8pm on WMFD! You can watch it on TV or stream it on your device by going to!

Stories of Hope

Click the image above to hear the story of Bradley, who had struggled with his mental health since he was 11 years old. Through Catalyst and the Assisted Outpatient Treatment program, Bradley was able to get the help he needed and deserved.

Click the image above to hear the story of Coryanna, a single mother of 3 children. Catalyst and Job and Family Services met her where she was at to provide the help she desperately needed.

All donations received from the Catalyst Rehab Telethon will go toward providing services to clients like Bradley and Coryanna.

If you would like to give today click HERE

The Telethon in the News!

Click the image above to hear from Melissa Drozda, the Director of Marketing and Development at Catalyst. She speaks to the importance and need for the services of Catalyst such as the newest services offered – the Behavioral Health Urgent Care.

Since August 2nd 2021, the Behavioral Health Urgent Care has seen over 500 people, many who simply could not have waited to get the help they needed.

The Catalyst Rehab Telethon raises funds for the much needed help, support and services for the community. Thank you to ALL who give to this event!

“Over the course of the Telethon’s 30 years, the agency has raised more than $2.6 million with 300 volunteers making the annual event a success, Drozda said. The first Telethon in 1992 raised $44, 924.

The lineup includes community guests, entertainment, success stories, and more.

Community guests include Jodie Perry of the Mansfield-Richland Area Chamber/Economic Development; entertainment by Huckster Driver band; Donna and Jeff Heck of 33 Forever; Zach Paradis, singer/musician, and Laura Montgomery, CEO of Catalyst Life Services.”

Click HERE to read the full article!

“‘As we approach the 31st Catalyst Rehab Telethon, I am reminded of the outpouring of support and unwavering compassion that is shown by our community,’ said Laura Montgomery, CEO of Catalyst Life Services. ‘For this, I am truly grateful. We continue to live in unprecedented time and individuals in Richland County need our services more than ever. Each dollar donated to the Catalyst Rehab Telethon goes towards providing lifesaving services each day.’

Each year at the Telethon, Catalyst tries to exceed the previous year. Last year the telethon raised over $120,000.”

To read the full article click HERE!

Thank you to this year’s Telethon Hourly Sponsors!

The success of the Telethon is largely due to our amazing hourly sponsors! We simply could not reach our yearly fundraising goal without their generosity!

Thank you for your continued support throughout the years!

January News

Did you know?

The Virtual Catalyst Rehab Telethon is only 1 month away!

To get involved call us at 419-774-6710

Click HERE To Support The Telethon TODAY!

Panda Express Telethon Fundraiser

Catalyst Life Services will be hosting a fundraising event at Panda Express on January 10th!

To participate place an order through Panda Express in Ontario on January 10th, 2022 and be sure to bring in a flyer that is either printed out or digital. While you’re placing your order be sure to let them know you are ordering for the Catalyst Life Services Fundraising event!

20% of proceeds from customers that bring in this flyer, will be donated to the Catalyst Rehab Telethon!
Click HERE To Print Your Flyer

Chipotle Telethon Fundraiser

Catalyst Life Services will be hosting a fundraising event at Chipotle on January 19th!

To participate place an order through Chipotle at the Ontario location on January 19th, 2022. While you’re placing your order be sure to let them know you are ordering for the Catalyst Life Services Fundraising Event!

All proceeds from customers that bring in a flyer or say they are ordering for Catalyst, will be donated to the Catalyst Rehab Telethon!
Click HERE To Print Your Flyer

Congratulations on Your Retirement 

We congratulate Donna Stout on her retirement after 27 years, as well as Candy Rush after 23 years!

They will both be greatly missed! Catalyst wishes them the very best of luck on this exciting milestone!

Community Support

Catalyst Life Services is so grateful for 33 Forever’s generous Christmas contribution.

33 Forever was able to gift our clients, who were unable to be with their families over the holidays, with a Christmas dinner and gifts to help spread holiday cheer!

Thank you 33 Forever for your continued support in our effort to serve the community.

Catalyst Life Services would like to thank NAMI for their generosity in giving back to those in our Oasis Peer Center over the holidays!

NAMI was able to give back to those in recovery by spreading Christmas joy and offering a smiling face to our community.

Thank you NAMI for all you do for Catalyst Life Services and our community!

December News

Did you know?

Only 8 more weeks until the Catalyst Virtual Telethon!

And there are many ways to get involved!

1. Create a Facebook Fundraising Page

2. Join a Phone Bank

3. Businesses can have a dress down day

4. Businesses can set out a change jar or have a ’round up’ option for customers

To get involved call us at 419-774-6710!

2022 Catalyst Rehab Telethon Chair

We are excited to announce that Doc Stumbo is joining the Catalyst Rehab Telethon Committee as Chair. Doc has a long history with Catalyst Life Services. He was on the board at The Center for Individuals & Family Services, Inc. for 18 years when they merged with The Rehab Center to form Catalyst Life Services. While he worked at GM, he would help connect employees and their families to counseling services at our agency. Doc has been involved in helping raise funds since the first Telethon and helped facilitate companies and unions working together for this special event. Doc believes deeply in the mission of Catalyst and says, “You really don’t know when you need help, but when you do, Catalyst is always there for you.”

Doc Stumbo was born in Mingo County, West Virgina. After serving in Vietnam, he moved to Ohio and has been a resident of Richland County for more than 60 years. He retired from General Motors, serving as Public Relations liaison for both the plant and the United Auto Workers in the Mansfield area. Doc recently retired from Graham Auto Mall in Public Relations. He has served on more than 20 boards, including: The Salvation Army, CACY, Toy Time, United Way, Richland County Home, The Center, Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary, Richland County Health Department, the Richland County Mental Health Board, and many others. Stumbo is instramental in organizing the Make a Difference Food Drive every year for area food pantries, and has helped organize the Dash to the Goal in partnership with United Way.

Welcome Doc — We are honored to have you spearhead this initiative!

Agents of Change

Click the image above to hear Alyse Schroeder, SUD Residential Supervisor and Detox Referral Manager. Alyse shares how the holiday season can be the hardest season of the year for many people.

Linda Linn’s Retirement 

We congratulate Linda Linn on her retirement after 49 years!

Although she will be helping us as needed, she will be greatly missed! We wish her the very best of luck on this exciting milestone.

Richland Gives

We are so grateful to our community!

We received a total of $2,551 for Richland Gives which will go toward helping us continue our life-saving services!

Naomi’s Story of Hope

I work in the Screen Printing / Embroidery Department at Catalyst Life Services.  My dream job at Catalyst is to be a Counselor Assistant at New Beginnings.  To be an agent of change. To maybe help someone like me.  New Beginnings started my road to recovery and I would of never known about this place if it weren’t for my Vocational Specialist, Josh Jewell.  He took me to Rehab twice and didn’t leave until he knew I was sure of myself.  Recovery is my life – as I am finding my old self and getting my family / my boys back.

I am currently waiting on a liver transplant due to my alcoholism.  Unfortunately, the doctors telling me “quit drinking or die” didn’t help me.  Thankfully, Josh and my two stays at New Beginnings planted a seed in my recovery and I can proudly say I’m still on that road.

Here is a short version of my story:

The corner stone of my alcoholism is in April 2008 when I suffered a stillbirth.  I was not able to handle this loss, so I turned to a vodka bottle which led me to lose custody of my two sons.  I was not ready to admit I had a problem and continued to still get up every morning and go to my job at Burger King.  I was what my mom calls a “Functioning Alcoholic”.  I continued to do this job until 2019.  My mom and oldest son (who was in the custody of my Mom) saw me become self-destructive even though I would never admit that I had a problem.

I was transferred to Kenton, OH for my job and met a man who I thought wanted to help me. He took over my life by controlling my every move.  He took everything I loved away from me.  I did not see it that way and would not until after my second stay at New Beginnings.

While at New Beginnings, I learned a lot about myself.  However, upon release, I allowed him to take control back.  I lost jobs because of his actions toward my employers.  With the help of one great Catalyst employee and my mom, they made me see I needed to get away from him.  I got a second chance at New Beginnings again but upon leaving early, I fell back in the trap.  Yes, I had stopped drinking, but I still allowed him to control me.

About 6 weeks ago, he left to go take care of his son in Marion, OH.  I finally began to feel better about myself but not totally.  It was not until he came into our apartment while I was at work and took about everything, including my total paycheck out of the bank, that I knew I had to take action.  I called my mom and she convinced me to call the police and file a report which I did. With the help of my mom and Catalyst, I am now on the right path.  I am taking baby steps to be able to get my life back and be the person I am meant to be.

Catalyst has given me a great opportunity with a great job that I love.  My previous job experience was fast food and now I am learning something new.  They are helping me become better and they care about me enough to help.

Naomi Syx is a current Progress Industries employee. She was so happy to share how New Beginnings and the services at Catalyst helped plant the seed of hope and gave her the tools needed to start the journey of recovery.


Simone Biles & The Olympics: The Mental Health Issue Not Being Discussed

Erin Schaefer, PCC-S, IMFT-S

When I first heard about Simone Biles removing herself from the gymnastic competition due to a “medical issue”, I was concerned about whether she had hurt her leg or sprained something, a devastating injury for an Olympic athlete. Once word came out that, in fact, she had removed herself due to mental health issues, I said, “oh of course, that makes perfect sense!”  However, the reaction on social media and the internet was swift and ran the gamut from, “She is so strong and so brave” to “How could she let down her teammates and the country?  She should have just pushed through it!”

To be clear, I am not a gymnast, no matter how much my younger self tried to make that happen in my front yard in the summer. However, I am a licensed therapist and counselor, so I understand the field of mental health. What I know about USA Gymnastics is more related to my field of knowledge:  prior to the Olympics, I had read a lot about the horrible sexual abuse scandal, revealed just a few of years ago. Larry Nassar, former Team USA Gymnastics doctor, had been convicted and imprisoned for sexually abusing hundreds of female gymnasts over his many years as the team doctor.  The scandal was exposed in 2016; he was convicted in 2017.  This is the first Olympics since all the information has come forth.

When I heard about Simone removing herself for mental health issues, I immediately thought of trauma. Trauma embeds itself in our brains, our bodies, and our minds.  It infects all our senses and imprints on us when an event occurs. Trauma can also linger, hovering underneath, waiting to surface without warning. When a person experiences trauma, that person can be triggered by memories of that trauma by almost anything:  a noise, a smell, a similar scene, or even a repetition of a similar experience. Sometimes, trauma reappears in the form of a flashback of the original event. In some cases, the trauma can be triggered and manifest itself in ways that do not even seem to be connected to the original traumatic event. For instance, someone who experienced trauma as a very young child might not have any memory of the actual abuse, but when returning to the location where previous abuse had occurred, the person might experience a sleep disturbance and not even know why. This physical manifestation of the trauma is part of the body’s “memory” of the event and the cues of what happened there. However, the body “knows” and the brain “remembers” even when the conscious mind does not.

To me, Simone’s case could easily be connected to the trauma she has experienced. Being back in a high-pressure competitive situation, the first Olympics since the scandal was brought to light, can be very “triggering”. Even though it might not be conscious for her, it is quite possible her body and mind are reacting to that stimulus and trying to make sense of it. Obviously, I am not her therapist, her counselor, or her doctor; I am merely an outsider, looking in. For me, the most important thing is that she is listening to her body AND her mind, as both are telling her, “Something is not right here.” Slowing down to listen, adjusting as she goes, and giving herself space and time is absolutely essential for her as an elite athlete – and a great lesson for the rest of us. Let her example be a reminder to us all to be patient with ourselves and to look out for each other. 

The Author: Erin Schaefer, PCC-S, IMFT-S, is the Executive Vice President/Executive Director at Catalyst Life Services.  She received a masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pacific Lutheran University in 1997 and a masters in Marriage and Family Therapy/Counseling in 2002 from the University of Akron.  Erin has worked in community mental health for over 20 years.  She was also director of Ashland Parenting Plus, a small nonprofit agency focused on teen pregnancy prevention, juvenile diversion, and parent education.  She served on the board and as president of the Ohio Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and also on the board of directors of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy from 2011-2013, and is currently the Treasurer. She has been a member of AAMFT since 1997 and is a Clinical Fellow.  Erin is a catalyst for Empathy.