Goodwill® recognizes and commemorates National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) this October and urges all employers, including the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, to hire people with disabilities. This year’s theme for NDEAM, administered by the US Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, is “#InclusionWorks,” which underscores the important role played by workers with disabilities in enhancing workplace diversity.
Inclusion is an inherent driver of Goodwill’s shared aspirations for people with disabilities, which are grounded in choice and the ability to earn wages. Goodwill aspires for all people, including people with disabilities, to reach their potential, enhance their quality of life, and experience integration, pride, self-sufficiency and social acceptance.
However, more work needs to be done to educate employers and support people with disabilities. Approximately one in five Americans has a disability and they make up nearly 20 percent of America’s workforce, yet their unemployment rate is more than twice that of workers without disabilities. As an advocate, you can explore ideas that could be implemented in your workplace and community to raise awareness.
Goodwill is a leading advocate for and supporter of people with disabilities. Our workforce and organization’s policies reflect that fact. Goodwill employs more than 28,000 team members with disabilities — nearly one-quarter of our entire workforce.
One of those employees includes Amy Ofenbeck, a former TV news anchor and reporter, who collapsed after suffering a brain aneurysm. She spent weeks in the hospital undergoing a total of eight brain and spinal surgeries, followed by weeks of rehabilitation. When ready to return to work, Amy was referred to Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida (Fort Myers, FL) where she applied and earned a part-time job in the local Goodwill organization’s public relations department. She now works in the Goodwill’s ecommerce department, where she posts items for sale on shopgoodwill.com®, Goodwill’s internet auction website. Due to her great progress and accomplishments in overcoming challenges, the Goodwill named her its Achiever of the Year.
NDEAM’s origins date back to 1945, when Congress declared the first week of October as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” The name was changed in 1962 and the period of recognition was extended to the full month of October in 1988. Goodwill is proud to support people with disabilities year round, but during the month of October join us in celebrating to contributions of American workers with disabilities – past, present, and future.