Talent Has No Boundaries: People with Disabilities are an Asset to the Workplace

ROCKVILLE, MD — Goodwill Industries International is urging employers to consider the unique talents, perspectives and contributions that people with disabilities bring to the workplace. Communities throughout the United States and Canada need workers who are ready to help rebuild the economy. People with disabilities are a talented source of labor who are ready and able to work. For decades, Goodwill® has been giving people with disabilities the tools they need to find jobs, build their careers and become independent contributors to their communities.
“Employees should be judged by the quality of work they perform, not by whether or not they have a disability,” said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “Diversity in the workplace includes people with disabilities.”
It makes good business sense to hire people with disabilities. People with disabilities have above average records of job performance and dependability — which improves productivity and lowers the cost of hiring and training. A growing segment of the population — nearly one in six Americans — is made up of people with disabilities. Employers can leverage tax incentives and benefit from the distinct perspectives of people with disabilities to attract a more diverse group of customers.
Goodwill has helped people with disabilities gain the skills they need to find employment and build fulfilling careers. Below are the stories of just three of the people who have become successful in their careers with help from Goodwill.
When Julie Shepherd was 15 years old, she was involved in a car accident that left her with a head injury and using a wheel chair. She spent the next 10 years either hospitalized or in rehabilitation due to her injuries. She also had trouble with her speech and needed help with communication. Shepherd came to Goodwill’s community employment program, where she received help with job preparation, applications and interviewing as well as career support once she found employment. After working with Goodwill, she was hired as a sales floor team member in the jewelry department of a Target store, where she has worked for three years. She says she loves working with people.
Craig Dusel has worked at a Goodwill donation center for five years. Born with Down syndrome, Craig has an incredible work ethic and has rarely missed a day at work. In addition to his job at Goodwill, he is a three-sport athlete and a Global Messenger with the Special Olympics. He has also served on the Down Syndrome of Louisville Board of Directors. Craig’s job at Goodwill has allowed him to live in his own apartment, be self-sufficient and focus on his future goals.
Mecca Meeks was diagnosed with Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension, a disorder that forced him to have two eye surgeries. The surgeries left him legally blind at the age of 24. The loss of eyesight left him scared to leave his home and unsure of how he would be able to function. Mecca always wanted to work and have a career. He first took advantage of Goodwill services to receive eye care and rehabilitation. He also learned computer skills through Goodwill’s career and training center. Mecca now works as a fulfillment clerk on a Goodwill contract serving a government agency.
“Julie, Craig and Mecca are three examples of the many people with disabilities who receive Goodwill employment and community-based services every day,” said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “Their talents and hard work remind us that people with disabilities are integral members of our workforce.”
To learn more about Goodwill’s career training and employment programs, visit www.goodwill.org or call (800) 741-0186.