Expect, Employ, Empower! Recognizing National Disability Employment Awareness Month

2014 Collage NDEAMEvery October we recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America’s employees with disabilities. The Barber National Institute (BNI) celebrated NDEAM with an awards ceremony today.

The excitement at the award ceremony

2014 NDEAM Award Ceremony

2014 NDEAM Award Ceremony

was contagious. Many of the employees in the community came back to BNI and shared their dream job experiences and encouraged their peers not to give up even though it can be hard to find a job. Thunderous applause followed each speech. Some of the takeaways I heard were:

  • EXPECT that everyone can have their dream job someday.
  • EMPOWER yourself by working with Transitional Work Services and learning new skills
  • EMPLOY your positive attitude and perseverance at your job
TWS Employee Award Winners

TWS Employee Award Winners

The BNI is not new to supported employment. Our program, which began in 1986, has worked with over 500 employers and has placed 700 people in the community workforce. I am also happy to say that year to date 26 individuals have secured employment in our community through the efforts of our Supported Employment program.  Here is a very special video that BNI’s Supported Employment team produced.

Some of the Erie community employers include Erie Insurance Arena, Millcreek Mall, KFC, Bello’s Market, McQuillen Auto, Agility Marketing, Giant Eagle, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Sisters of St. Joseph, Bob Evans, Pizza Hut, ODIS 12, Triangle Tech and Plastek to name just a few.

What can we do to increase employment opportunities?

Ryan receiving his award.

Ryan receiving his award.

  • Have a CAN DO attitude and set your goals high.
  • Ask parents and educators to begin the transition process early and establish high expectations.
  • Ask employers to consider hiring a person with a disability when he/she meet your job specifications.

I would love to hear your success stories about community employment in your area.

P.S. I’m very proud to say that Ryan received an award as well for being

employed at Bello’s for one year and perfect attendance. He loves what he does at Bello’s and truly looks forward to working there every day.

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