Celebrating 70 years of NDEAM

By Richard Carlson, President and CEO
NDEAM 2Each October, Goodwill Industries joins the nation in acknowledging the importance of employees with disabilities — a vital component of the U.S. labor force — during National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).

This year’s celebration marks 70 years since President Truman authorized Congress to officially recognize workers with disabilities.

This year’s theme, developed by the U.S. Department of Labor is “My Disability Is One Part of Who I Am.” Jennifer Sheehy from the Office of Disability Employment Policy explains: “It encapsulates the important message that people with disabilities are just that — people. And like all people, we are the sum of many parts, including our work experiences.

It also underscores the fact that employees with disabilities bring a wide variety of skills to the table. They make up nearly 20 percent of America’s workforce, yet their unemployment rate is more than twice that of workers without disabilities. It is crucial that American employers continue to make efforts to hire workers of all backgrounds and abilities.

For 65 years Goodwill Industries of West Michigan has worked tirelessly to support job seekers with disabilities and specialized circumstances through training, placement, and employment efforts.

Supporting the needs of job seekers of varying needs and abilities is at the core of what we do at Goodwill every day. I am pleased to celebrate the achievements of our Goodwill program participants and graduates — and all employees with disabilities — during National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

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Support employment opportunities for people with disabilities

By Jennifer Tucker, Mission Services Director

 

 

 

 

On July 26, the country will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This groundbreaking piece of legislation prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, education and public accommodation, and promotes equality for all Americans.

Goodwill has been dedicated to supporting employment opportunities for all people since its founding more than 113 years ago. Goodwill believes everyone should have the opportunity to live independently, earn wages and achieve their dreams. In 2014 alone, more than 426,000 men and women with disabilities found employment with Goodwill’s help.

The revenue generated from the sale of donations in Goodwill stores goes directly to promoting education, skills training and the power of work in local communities.

“I love my job. I used to not be able to go up to people and have a conversation.”

CJ

Christopher (“CJ”) was referred to us due to difficulties he experience with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, anxiety, and depression. Previously employed, CJ lost his position due to anger and anxiety issues. One of our Goodwill case managers worked one-on-one with CJ and found him a courtesy associate position at a Walmart near his home in Ludington, that offered the positive environment for him to thrive and grow. His skills and responsibilities have advanced beyond pushing carts to driving a forklift in the warehouse. After a year on the job, CJ recently purchased his first car and is planning for college.

Stories like CJ’s reinforce the importance of the work we do every day at Goodwill. Our services include career counseling, job placement, skills development, job training programs, and more.

While the ADA has grown opportunity and access to meaningful employment for Americans with disabilities, it’s clear that the challenges are far from over. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for men and woman with disabilities is twice that of those without disabilities.

How can you help support employees with disabilities in West Michigan? Register for the Legislative Action Center so people can speak up for the rights of people with disabilities and the program that we provide.

Thank you for your support and for celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.