March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan issued a public proclamation that the month of March would be recognized as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month to “increase public awareness of the needs and potential of Americans with disabilities.” Rights for the more than five million Americans who have a developmental disability were furthered with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

The state of Indiana has recognized and celebrated disability awareness for nearly 30 years. This year’s theme is Be Cool. We Are. For more information about this year’s campaign visit

For 15 years PQC has played a significant role in advocating and advancing services for this vulnerable population. Yet, as many strides have been made, challenges remain for individuals, and their families, who live with emotional, behavioral and cognitive differences.

We challenge you to become an advocate for individuals facing employment barriers. A new study shows that 9 out of 10 people with autism can now obtain gainful employment with specific training, however, in 2017 only 39% of people with a disability were gainfully employed. Even more alarming is that nearly 2,000 Hoosiers with disabilities were denied Vocational Rehabilitation services between August 2017 and December 2018 due to lack of state funds. PQC Trains, a disability-assisting workforce division of PQC Works, currently employs 6 people at Windrose Urban Farm, also a part of the PQC family, whose mission is to help individuals with special needs to grow their careers and cultivate their tomorrows, doing a variety of jobs overcoming a variety of barriers. We also currently have 67 Voc Rehab participants that we have helped to find gainful employment throughout the state of Indiana.

Clap Along If You Feel Like A Room Without A Roof

Today is the seventh day of 2019. There are 358 wonderful days left of this new year.

Every Monday morning I face the same challenges of waking up and trying to decide what kind of week it’s going to be. Sadly, over the last couple of months, I’ve become very focused on things that are out of control, negative, and truly a distraction toward the better things in life.

It’s kind of hard not to get wrapped up in the negative things, because that’s kind of pushed at you from every medium possible. Over the weekend, I even noticed a billboard that implicated how hard life really is. Turning on the news in the morning is usually done through clenched teeth. I’d stop doing it, but then I’d feel ill-informed which seems to be almost worse.

But equally we have the opportunity to look at the positive side of what goes on in the world and think about our place in it. Frequently on social media sites, friends share funny and heartfelt stories and video clips meant to lift us up. Scattered across the sites are stories of success of people doing amazing things, showing the best of their humanity, and encouraging us to move forward. Despite all the bad or negative news, even the news dedicates the last 5 minutes to stories that will touch your heart and give you hope.

So, it’s Jan. 7, and it really is up to us to decide which part of the world we’re going to focus on. Just in case you weren’t sure where my mind is focused now, I challenge you to watch this video and not dance, tap your feet or hum along! 

Have a great week!

Good Vibes for a Great Year

Stacey Smith, CEO

Well, it’s a new year and—as you can tell from my blog posts—I had a strong start in 2018 with weekly blogging. As the months wore on, though, I ran out of steam. It’s hard to be thoughtful week after week! It makes me have a whole new admiration for people who really do this for a living and hope to get people to read it!

So, with the New Year, I’ve received a lot of questions about resolutions and such. I think I come from a generation that did that and it was expected. I’ve bucked the trend because (1) I know how hard it is to stay on a commitment over a long period of time, and (2) as time passes, your commitments need to adjust. For instance, my priority last year at New Year’s was to get my knee surgery done, but that didn’t happen. Is that bad? No! Other things came up and needed time/attention instead. I also moved, which wasn’t even something I had thought about on Jan. 1, 2018. But the time and place were right, and I’m glad it happened. Funny how major life changes can happen like that.

But 2019 is important to me. PQC will celebrate our 15th anniversary in mid-summer. That is crazy to me. It seems like just yesterday that I was getting the incorporation papers from the attorney and launching an office. I knew I had to have an office, because staying home would have been out of the question—I already am a workaholic and working from home would have just made that worse. Besides, I needed someone to say hello to. Fifteen years ago, I was yelling “Hello!” to the mailman as he passed by the house. I’d call people just to have some kind of human contact. I found that being alone wasn’t going to be my thing. Even after all this time, I’m not a fan of working from home. I need that balance that says work stuff stays at work. Now when I get to work, I’m blessed to have Sarah to say good morning to.

So that’s how my 2019 started out. Good morning, Sarah … 364 more days before 2020!

Monday Minute | 026

For anyone who has ever had to face down the awful options when faced with a hurricane, especially one like Florence, both hard decisions and hard work is necessary.

During my 20+ years either working long-term assignments or living in the southern regions of the U.S., it was almost a regular thing to get to Labor Day and wonder who was going to be affected by decisions related to boarding up, packing, going to higher ground, and—for some—ignoring the warnings and going about their day. My earliest exposure was back with Hurricane David in the ’80s when I watched my beloved NASA fight with the options to bring an orbiter in from the launch pad or leave it there and wrestle with the risks. This wasn’t the first time and wouldn’t be the last. Even today, safe and sound many miles from any chance of hurricane-force winds, rising tides or risk from flood waters, I’m saddened that our decisions are played out on public media like a retelling of a Shakespearean plan. Will she or won’t she? That is the question.

With memories of so many big hurricanes recently on the Gulf Coast—not least of which Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 up to Harvey over Houston in 2017—the media is certain to add some melodrama to the situation. They will always find “Uncle Bob” who ran out of the house without his shirt and shoes, and many will mock the humor associated with the hardships that many of these people will face. To the fine people of the Carolinas, we feel your pain, understand your challenges, and hope that the worst is past you. We know that many first, second and third responders are out there helping to keep people safe and to lend a hand as needed. We hope the awful sadness and hardships that befell 2017 will not be repeated in 2018. We can only hope that the path forward is brighter than the one you just passed over.

Monday Minute | 025

As we begin our flow through the week, we want to take a moment and look at leadership. It is important to note that leadership is an inherent quality inside all of us. Leadership varies from person to person in regards to the leadership of what and for how much of what. However, one thing we should all do is stand on the shoulders of great leaders from the past. For today’s Monday Minute, we want to highlight 10 great quotes from leaders throughout history. 
  1. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” -John Quincy Adams
  2. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” -Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder
  3. “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
  4. “I can give you a six-word formula for success: Think things through–then follow through.” Edward Rickenbacker
  5. “Leaders instill in their people a hope for success and a belief in themselves. Positive leaders empower people to accomplish their goals.” –Unknown
  6. “The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” -Theodore M. Hesburgh
  7. “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” -John F. Kennedy
  8. “A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better.” -Jim Rohn
  9. “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” -John Maxwell
  10. “Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday Minute | 024

More than 30 classic and modern cars were on display at the one-day Fort Wayne Motorfest event held August 25 and sponsored by PQC. Lots of onlookers were able to admire some of Indiana’s and Ohio’s finest hot rods and classic cruisers. Even with a delayed start due to wind and rain, the event was well attended. Despite the foul weather that threatened to turn sponsorship tents into sails and toppled the DJ’s equipment, everyone went home safe and sound.

This was the first year for the event, and it gathered more than $1,000 for the Windrose Learning organization. Windrose Urban Farm is a local Fort Wayne program with a singular focus: They seek to provide employment opportunities for individuals living with special needs in our community while growing high-quality food and garden products. They know that by giving employment to people with special needs, they will create jobs and provide fulfilling opportunities. In turn, they then hope to nurture compassion and understanding by exposing the community to individuals with disabilities. Their employees will work in either the warehouse/grow rooms at the urban farm in downtown Fort Wayne, run deliveries, or sell their products during the week and weekends at local farmers markets. Their goal is to ultimately have a permanent position at the new Electric Works facility, which was a partial sponsor for the event.

In addition to the car show, the Motorfest provided a great opportunity that allowed both the local community and surrounding neighbors to see the possibilities for the Electric Works campus. This fun event also hosted the Windrose Urban Farm booth, which sold their highly sought-after mushrooms as well as lemon shake-ups and locally made yard games. Along with PQC and Electric Works, other local sponsors included Sweetwater Sound, Edwards Sewing Center, and Clean Fuels National. Local restaurants also gave out raffle prizes, with local food trucks and Sweet Creations serving fabulous food that would make anyone give up their diet!

We’re looking forward to future years and being a part of the event as it grows!

Contributions to Windrose Urban Farm can be made at

-Stacey Smith, PQC President & CEO

Monday Minute | 023

In today’s labor market, it can be difficult to find the right person to fit an open position. It’s because, thankfully, we are working in a market where there are lots of jobs and lots of options. Because PQC does vocational rehab, we seek out those open jobs that could be held by someone with disabilities. We’ve learned that—when given a chance—there is a job for every person, and we just need to provide the information, training and encouragement to go after it.

People and businesses can succeed when they have the information that they need to make a difference in their lives. As economic freedom is often tethered to employment, providing employers and prospective employees with information on available tools helps make that transition, but it also takes a lot of communication and support. Some of that comes in the form of coaching and job training from companies like PQC, but often it comes from the hiring organizations themselves. I recently had a story of a company being very supportive of hiring people with disabilities; however, when one of our clients was about to pass their 90-day review, they were let go. When we went back to find out what happened, the company was thrilled with the person’s attitude, attendance and willingness to learn; however, where they failed was in the volume that was required. At no time did their management let either our client or their employment specialist know about this pending metric that was “make or break” to future employment. It makes me wonder how committed they really are to disability hiring. Even if that person was only to make 90 percent of production, they had to be better than having no one fill that need. What are we willing to do to make it possible to fill those jobs that go unfilled?

Only 35 percent of U.S. civilians with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 64 had a job in 2015, compared to 76 percent for people without disabilities. At the end of the day, our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life. People with disabilities deserve the opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence, just like anyone else. So, the next time you hear about a company being a champion for disability hiring, please say thanks! And then make sure they really mean it. Look around and be a cheerleader for that person who is working and making a difference. They are no longer part of the 65 percent that are still waiting for the right opportunity.

-Stacey Smith, PQC President & CEO

Monday Minute | 022

We call the toughest days we face “character building.” Those times when we are tested could be emotional or physical, ethical or intellectual, professional or personal. The choices we make in these moments say a lot about our character.

Character primarily refers to the assembly of qualities that distinguish one individual from another. “Be honest, moderate, sincere”; this line from Hamlet tells us that the term “character” consists of a wide variety of attributes, including the existence or lack of virtues such as integrity, courage, fortitude, honesty, humility and loyalty, or of the prevalence of good behavior or habits. Our character is who we are even when no one is watching. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” Moral character is the bedrock of values on which our thoughts, speech and actions are built. Your character is who you are; it defines you and guides your actions. Our character depends on how we behave when faced with challenges and adversities.

When faced with tough challenges, especially when it comes to PQC, my first tendency is always to look for opportunity based on solutions and possibilities. I think that’s part of the character most business owners must cultivate. It would be tough to sustain an organization without some sort of positive view toward the results. The challenge that leaders face in today’s organization is balancing that optimism with a strong sense of reality. My highly optimistic character generally gets pushed by today’s business market, which has little space for nurturing the entrepreneurial character. We are faced with higher customer demands, tighter budgets, and increased competition. When looking for guidance, the results tend toward a stream of “leadership rhetoric” that makes those character-building moments sound so easy. Ultimately, we must face the results of tough love, especially when it might be seen as harsh. Part of having character is about making those tough decisions.

Monday Minute | 020

I’ve always been blessed with a sense of curiosity that has led me to want to learn about new and exciting things. Right now, my attention has gone back to my old love of outer space and travel to worlds beyond. It fascinates me that we’re talking about going back to the moon, but it really gets my attention when we talk about Mars. Mars is a challenge beyond anything we’ve faced in the past, but our technology has come so much farther as well.

This week, NASA selected the five winning designs in the latest stage of its 3D-printed habitat competition, including a pod inspired by the anatomy of a spider and a vertical egg-like container. Teams were challenged to come up with a solution that tackled the issues of transporting materials to Mars while considering differences in the red planet’s the atmosphere and landscape. If you’re like me and getting a chance to think about possibilities, please take a few moments to read the article linked below and watch the 4- to 5-minute videos! It boggles the mind that this is possible and that once we master the travel to the planet, we can actually construct housing without even being on the red planet! Talk about move-in ready.

After a short 30 minutes of refreshing my mind, thinking about the future and imagining the potential, coming back to reality and facing the challenges of today doesn’t seem so overwhelming. We need to allow ourselves time to gain perspective and realize that in today’s world … the sky is no longer a limit to our possibilities!

Be inspired at

-Stacey Smith, PQC President & CEO