People with Disabilities Are an Asset to the Workplace

Meeting of colleagues, including one who uses a wheelchairIn order to get the highest return on investment, Goodwill® knows that businesses need to hire the right workers. Employees with disabilities represent skilled workers in all industries, who are capable of confronting challenges and solving problems, and are receiving the training that modern businesses require.

During  National Disability Employment Awareness Month and beyond, Goodwill Industries International encourages the public and private sectors to hire applicants with disabilities and benefit from the unique talents they bring to the workplace.

For decades, Goodwill agencies throughout North America have trained and hired people with disabilities to work in Goodwill stores, donation centers and career centers as well as in emerging fields outside of Goodwill including healthcare, green industries and financial services.

Read on to learn about two people with disabilities who are succeeding in the workforce with support from Goodwill.

Ralph Poland

Ralph PolandAfter Ralph Poland suffered two strokes during open-heart surgery, doctors were not sure if he would ever walk again. Ralph remained determined and knew there was more he wanted to achieve in life. Ralph was referred to Goodwill NeuroRehabilitation Services, a program of Goodwill Industries of Northern New England (Portland, ME). He started home therapy and later received physical, occupational and speech therapies at Goodwill NeuroRehabilitation Services.

Eighteen months later, Ralph was living independently and even resumed driving again. He now works part time as a floor assistant at a local Walmart store. Ralph also volunteers at a local hospital doing repair work in the hospital’s rehabilitation unit where he shares his story with the patients, offering them inspiration for their recovery

Shammonica McKinney

Shammonica McKinneyShammonica McKinney was born with cerebral palsy and is a single mother of two children. Shammonica has the support of her mother but prefers to live on her own and independently care for her children. She was referred to Goodwill Industries of the Coastal Empire (Savannah, GA) and completed a customized five-month work adjustment and skills training course.

With the help of her Goodwill job coach, Shammonica applied for and accepted a part-time position at an Olive Garden restaurant as a silverware wrapper. Six months later, Shammonica asked her manager for additional responsibilities because she wanted a chance to do more in her job. She was promoted to hostess, a full time position with the restaurant. Shammonica is currently in school to fulfill her goal of becoming a phlebotomist.

Ralph and Shammonica are two of the many capable employees with disabilities. However, this population has a more than 16 percent unemployment rate, nearly double the rate of the general population. People with disabilities deserve to grow their careers and make positive contributions to our economy.

If you or someone you know has a disability and is currently experiencing challenges finding employment, contact your local Goodwill to learn about programs and services that can help you re-enter the workforce.

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