As we round out the last few days of National Disability Employment Awareness month (NDEAM) we commemorate it by celebrating the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities with another personal story. We also take a moment to bring awareness to disability employment issues, an important topic during NDEAM and all year long.
Amanda Green and Sarah Noble are apartment mates in one of our community villages. Today’s story is how, just like thousands of people across the nation, Amanda and Sarah found themselves unemployed as a result of the global pandemic. Both ladies were happy to share their stories if it would help just one employer consider the disabled population to fill the many vacancies throughout the county. We were thrilled to take the ladies up on that offer as we advocate together for powering America’s recovery through inclusion.
During the pandemic Amanda got laid off from her job as a food service worker. Amanda tells me that when the shutdown took place, on the last day she worked, the organization said we will contact you in a few weeks with an update. That is the last she heard from them. No one had any idea the pandemic would rage on for months.
Many things changed for organizations during that time and when people were getting back to work, Amanda found herself looking for new employment. Amanda began the process that thousands of other people did and was very excited to land another job in food service at a local hospital. She was thankful for her previous experience in food service and her many years in the work force. Knowledge, skills and abilities are what gets anyone hired. Amanda had them.
She is very excited to be gainfully employed again! The day we spoke she was about to receive her first paycheck since starting her new position. She really likes the people she works with. They trained her really well and says, “They were great at training me. They made everything make sense.” She was also very happy to get that first paycheck because just like all of us, Amanda has financial obligations, the least of which is not that she has kitties that require special expensive cat food.
Amanda shares an apartment with Sarah. Sarah also was laid off from her job recycling when the pandemic hit. Inspired by Amanda’s pursuit for employment and having financial obligations as well, Sarah began the arduous journey of job hunting. One of Sarah’s former support staff shared that when she was working with Sarah, Sarah was completing and submitting applications every day, determined to find employment.
Sarah was so excited to report that she had recently been hired and that she would also be working in a dietary department and this was at local support agency. She had met with her new employers and was now looking forward to starting her training process that week. She is most excited about receiving her first paycheck and being able to help her daughter. In her words, “It was causing me stress not being able to help my daughter get the things she wants. I want to be able to help her.”
We are really happy for Amanda and Sarah who have financial goals and obligations just like anyone else. They are both very excited to have their new jobs and are feeling great about themselves. As Sarah stated, “It was causing me a lot of stress that was really hard when I had no work. I feel so much better now that I found a job.”
Needing a job, wanting a job, getting a job, these are not extraordinary accomplishments. This is what being an adult looks like regardless of our diverse qualities and characteristics. Our focus during NDEAM week is not to aggrandize pretty normal accomplishments, it is to challenge why it is so difficult for people with certain qualities and characteristics to find employment. Why do some traits become unnecessary obstacles to just make a living while others are widely accepted?
Join us as we both feel great for Amanda and Sarah for finding jobs and as we question and challenge the employment disparity between the disabled and non-disabled community. Let us all challenge the myths and stereotypes that are causing this unjustified disparity.
Do you have questions or are interested in dispelling some myths you may have about hiring someone with a disability? Reach out to your local disability support agency, including ours and we will be happy to dispel the myths, breakdown the stereotypes and help you find a fit for your recruitment needs.