Monarch observes National Disability Employment Awareness Month
Last year, organization helped 231 people with disabilities find jobs statewide
Monarch announced its support for National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an annual awareness campaign that takes place each October. The purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. Held annually, NDEAM is led by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy, and was created to educate about disability employment issues.
Earlier this year, The U.S. Labor Department announced the 2014 National Disability Employment Awareness Month theme, which is "Expect. Employ. Empower."
"We all have a role to play in — and benefit to gain from — increasing opportunities for meaningful employment for people with disabilities," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez. "This year's theme encapsulates this in three powerful words. It conveys that advancing disability employment is about much more than just hiring. It's about creating a continuum of inclusion. And the first step on this continuum is expectation."
Reflecting this year's theme throughout the month, Monarch not only helps to identify employment opportunities for people with disabilities, but also works to raise awareness about disability employment issues. The organization fosters a disability-friendly and employment first work culture, which demonstrates its commitment to an environment where employment for the people it supports are foremost in its practices and philosophy.
Last year, Monarch helped 231 people with disabilities across the state to find jobs.
“We have an Employment First Committee which has changed policies, practices and 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 who manages the agency’s employment services efforts. “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.
“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,” Kelley continued. “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."
Among those Monarch helped to find work is Anthony Johnson, of Winston-Salem. Johnson, who sustained a traumatic brain injury when he was 8-years-old and gets around with the use of a wheelchair, is a small business owner. Monarch helped him to develop a business plan and secure a grant, which he used to purchase a small commercial refrigerator, a rolling cart and other work-related items. Monarch staff helps him to regularly stock his snacks, fruit and beverages to sell.
Since December 2007, Johnson has owned and operated Antonio’s Snack Bar at the Winston Lake Family YMCA, where he pays rent to operate his small shop and rolling cart. He also provides snacks (pictured above) to fellow participants at Forsyth Industrial Systems in Winston-Salem, one of Monarch’s day programs.
“When other handicap people say to me, ‘I can’t do it,’ I tell them ‘they can, look at me.’ There were so many times I wanted to give up. People would tell me I can’t do things. That gave me more determination to show them they were wrong,” he said. “I don’t do this all for me; I do this to give hope to others.”
The history of NDEAM traces back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
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/odep/.
Established in 1958, Monarch is a non-profit organization that provides support statewide to thousands of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness and substance abuse challenges. The agency is nationally accredited by The Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL) and certified by The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services as a Critical Access Behavioral Health Agency (CABHA). Monarch operates The Arc of Stanly County, which is a chapter of The Arc of North Carolina and The Arc of the United States. To learn more about how Monarch provides support for people living in our communities, please call (866) 272-7826 or visit www.MonarchNC.org.