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Monarch People We Support Are Committed, Dedicated and Passionate About Their Employment

Monarch Celebrates NDEAM Collage 2October is National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month

Across the nation, employers are finding the value in promoting inclusion among their workforce and the people we support at Monarch have long been a testament to the independence, experience and personal growth gained from employment.

October is recognized as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) which annually commemorates the contributions of workers with disabilities, as well as educate about the value of a workforce inclusive of their skills and talents. This year’s NDEAM theme is “America’s Workforce: Empowering All.”

The U.S. Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that in 2017, only 18.7 percent of persons with a disability were employed. In contrast, the employment population ratio for those without a disability is 65.7 percent.

Although statistics can show how many people with and without disabilities are employed, it doesn’t capture what a job means to the people we support.

Bradley Gavriluk, 43, is currently employed by Cicis restaurant in Raleigh. Gavriluk’s warm smile and energy belies the struggles that he has overcome. In 2009, he moved to North Carolina with his wife to live near his brother and escape the New England winters but shortly after, both his wife and father passed away. His mental health struggles led him to seek assistance at Monarch’s Club Horizon in Knightdale, a psychosocial rehabilitation program that provides support, services and assistance for adults with a diagnosis of serious and persistent mental illness.

Gavriluk proudly states that he has held his current job at Cicis for two years and is responsible for bussing tables and washing dishes. Club Horizon Director Kathy Troup-Galley notes that Gavriluk is a member-leader and has become excellent at being a self-advocate, adding that he currently resides in a group home and is working toward living independently.

River City Achievement Center’s Christina Leonard, 43, has been a Monarch staff member for the past six years. Community Engagement Team Leader Wanda Spence affectionately calls Leonard “Little Boss” and notes that she takes great pride in completing her responsibilities: “She loves her job.” Leonard makes sure the kitchen and bathrooms are cleaned and vacuumed. “I like it here,” she says of River City in Elizabeth City.

Leonard is busy not only with her job at River City but finds time to volunteer at Meals on Wheels, Salvation Army, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Albemarle Hopeline and Camden County Food Pantry.

Sara Smoke, 49, has worked at Tillman Barber Shop in Albemarle for more than 20 years. Smoke, who attends Stanly Industrial Services (SIS), says she enjoys her job making sure the barber shop is clean. A dedicated employee, she arrives at work with her signature smile and sense of humor every Friday. Smoke says the best part about working is the rewards of a paycheck and being able to purchase what she likes such as stickers, which often adorn whatever she is wearing. She has made many friends with both staff and customers during her tenure at one of Albemarle’s landmark businesses.

Tillman Barber Shop Owner Edward Richards says Smoke is more than a staff member. “She comes in and knows her job really well. She does a good job,” Richards explains. “She is more like family than a part of the staff. We enjoy being around her.”

Dallas Winslow, 25, believes he is rich not only from his paycheck but from the friendships he has made in the past year and a half at his job at Layden’s Country Store in Belvidere.

“I wanted to have a job so that I could help people and make my own money,” Winslow says. He credits his mom, Melody, for assisting him in his job search and filling out the application. Winslow admits he was a bit nervous before the interview but was happy when the job offer was extended. He currently works three days a week and attends the Heritage Club day program in Edenton.

“I help people with their groceries and help carry them out to their car,” Winslow proudly states, adding that he also posts signs, takes the trash out and moves drinks in the refrigerated section.

SIS Support Coordinator Antwain Hamilton believes being employed is a positive for both the employer and the people we support. He estimates that almost 20 Albemarle area businesses and organizations benefit from SIS participants who are either employed or volunteer within the community.

“They are much happier and live a more productive life enjoying the value of a daily routine. They feel appreciated and successful. They feel valued,” Hamilton says.

For more information on disabilities employment, visit the U.S. Office on Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)​. ODEP officials believe a strong workforce is inclusive and provides national leadership on disability employment by developing and influencing the use of evidence-based disability employment policies and practices.

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