October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), which provides people with an opportunity to recognize something I have the privilege of seeing everyday as an Employment Specialist at Goodwill; people facing the challenges they have been given in order to become a contributing factor to the competitive workforce. This year the theme is “A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?”
Each October, NDEAM raises awareness on a national level about disability employment issues; celebrating the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. In past and recent history this has included: Jim Langevin, the first quadriplegic to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, Helen Keller, Stevie Wonder who was blind since shortly after his birth and Thomas Edison who lost almost all of his hearing by the age of twelve and is famous for inventions such as the phonograph and the light bulb.
These are people well known for not letting their disabilities stop them and I am privileged to work with individuals everyday who do the same. That is why it is important to recognize October as NDEAM and the people that made it possible.
With just a little bit of encouragement, guidance and community resources, the participants I help search for work adapt to having a disability and learn different ways to work alongside people without disabilities.
Never have I seen people more eager and ready to work than the participants that walk through my office and ask what I have for them next; never giving up in their job search. It’s important to recognize people with disabilities as a vital asset to the workforce this month, but every month of the year as well.
Next week on October 17th, as part of NDEAM, organizations will be getting together to host a Disability Mentoring Day at the RVC Stenstrom Center in Rockford. It will provide an opportunity for people and students with disabilities to meet employers and get more information from the experts.
Some of my fellow Goodwill staff members and I will be getting involved by volunteering to model appropriate and inappropriate attire to wear to an interview during the events own fashion show. I think it will be an exciting day and I look forward to seeing a great turnout!