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National Disability Employment Awareness Month

4--Disability-EmploymentOctober is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and the month was declared to celebrate the many and varied contributions of American workers with disabilities.

Held annually, NDEAM is led by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy, and is also meant to educate about disability employment issues.

This month we interviewed Monarch Employment Peer Specialist Stephen Brannan who uses his own story of overcoming adversity to help others find a job. We also sat down with Tim Hayes, a person Monarch supports who lives with cerebral palsy. He has helped to support himself by working at Wendy’s for 22 years.

"I like having a job where I can be productive like anyone else-- going to work and coming home and doing a good days work," Hayes said.

Last year, Monarch helped 231 people with disabilities find jobs, despite the climb in the unemployment rate for Americans with disabilities, according to a September 2014 report from the U.S. Department of Labor. The jobless rate was 12.8 percent – up from 12.1 the previous month – for people with disabilities. For the same timeframe, the unemployment among the general population declined slightly to 6.1 percent as the economy added 142,000 jobs, according to the Labor Department's findings.

"Monarch has an Employment First Committee which has changed policies, practices and has a focus towards employment as a right and responsibility for the people we support. As a result, Monarch is proud to recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month," said Jim Kelley, chief operating officer at Monarch.

"Our goal is to help the people we support find jobs, because we believe a job can become a catalyst to help people to achieve other goals that are also important to them,” Kelley explained. "We want to spread the important message that a strong workforce is one inclusive of the skills and talents of all individuals, including individuals with disabilities."

Employers and employees in all industries can learn more about how to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month and ways they can promote its messages — during October and throughout the year — by visiting the ODEP website at www.dol.gov as well as The Campaign for Disability Employment at www.whatcanyoudocampaign.org.

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