October Is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Events, News

EEENational Disability Employment Awareness Month is an annual campaign that takes place each October. The purpose is to raise awareness about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. The theme for this year’s observance is “Expect, Employ, Empower.”

During this month we are recognizing and expressing appreciation to the many businesses that have been our long-time partners in providing jobs for people with disabilities. And we are asking other employers to begin – and our existing partners to accelerate — efforts to increase opportunities for meaningful employment for these individuals. We want to spread the important message that a strong workforce is one inclusive of the skills and talents of all individuals, including those with disabilities.

The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month 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.

Workers with disabilities have demonstrated the capacity to perform competitive work when given the opportunity. Virtually everyone who employs them will tell you that they perform their assigned tasks very well. They typically rank among their employers’ most dedicated staff members, often working many years at the same firm. But, despite this, their unemployment rate is several times that of the overall workforce. That is why it so important to have this annual, month-long observance, which reinforces the value and talent that people with disabilities add to our workplaces and communities.

Opportunity Project Member, Jason, has been at the Montclair Art Museum through our Vocational program for the past 11 years, both as an Artist in Residence as well as helping to curate exhibits. MAM has been incredibly supportive of Jason and his growth as an artist. Arlene Rubinstein (formerly Arlene Lieberman), who sadly passed away in March of this year, helped to spearhead the Vocational Program at OP and worked with Gary Schneider of MAM to create the partnership between OP and MAM. Jason’s works are currently on exhibit through November 2, 2014.

Another Member also celebrating 11 years of employment is Andy, who works as a Maintenance Associate at Whole Foods. Andy has been featured as employee of the month numerous times where he is highly regarded by supervisors, co-workers, and customers alike for his cheerful and helpful personality, hard work and dependability.

Our newest employment partner, Arts Unbound recently hired two of our members, Tim and Tyrone who both work as Gallery Sales Assistants. The Arts Unbound Gallery provides retail opportunities for emerging and established artists with disabilities.

We are proud to have as employment partners, organizations including Investors Bank, Sage Eldercare Services, the JSDD WAE Center and so many more. You can see a complete list by clicking here.

Opportunity Project urges all employers to join us in the spirit National Disability Employment Awareness Month and hire people with disabilities.

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