This October celebrates 75 years of recognizing National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Organized by the Office of Disability and Employment Policy, NDEAM recognizes the contributions that individuals with disabilities have made in the workplace. Here at Goodwill of Central Iowa, we are so excited to celebrate this anniversary because we get to see each and every day the impact that people with different abilities bring to not only our own organization, but to business partners in our communities.
One individual that has a physical disability is Larry. Larry began his journey back in 2017 when he was referred to Goodwill of Central Iowa by his case manager. Being visually impaired, Larry has faced difficulty maintaining employment. “It was my determination for work and to find employment that made me decide to go to Goodwill,” said Larry. He worked with his Career Specialist to find a job that would play to his strengths and thrive, which led him to Panera. Having been at Panera for over six months now, Larry has built up his self-esteem and has routine in his day-to-day tasks. “My goal was to maintain employment and I know that I am secure here at Panera. I really like it a lot.”We are so proud of the progress Larry has made and his contribution to Panera.
Although we know of the success stories of participants like Larry, the unfortunate truth is that people with disabilities are currently twice as likely to be unemployed as their non-disabled counterparts. In fact, the Bureau of Labor statistics reported an unemployment rate of 7.3% among disabled persons in 2019. According to the CDC, there are oftentimes multiple barriers for disabled persons which can make it difficult for people with disabilities to earn and maintain employment.
Organizations like Goodwill of Central Iowa work to help persons with barriers to employment gain the skills necessary to earn gainful employment. Our core focus is on what people can do. Through our programs people are given the support needed to earn and maintain employment. Throughout the month of October, we urge community members to look past a person’s physical or intellectual disability and see the value they can provide to an organization. Because when people earn a job, they get to feel a sense of pride, provide for themselves, and create a network of support.
Learn more about how you and your organization can celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness month and read up on the Goodwill of Central Iowa team members that carry out our mission each day.