By Richard Carlson, President and CEO
Each 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.