The Right Talent, Right Now

October’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) aims to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. This year’s theme is “The Right Talent, Right Now.”

Finding the “Right Talent, Right Now” is more important today than ever before with workforce shortages across many industries ranging from disability services and health care to manufacturing, food and retail. Meanwhile, nationwide the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is said to be more than twice the rate of the general population.

We help businesses by recommending candidates with disabilities for direct hires or providing supervised teams of workers. We have people ready and eager to work. We provide the training and ongoing support as needed. Throughout October, we’ll be sharing stories of inclusion and celebrating the abilities of all workers.

Darren handles his cashiering duties at Target with skill, moving customers through the line with speed and accuracy. His talents have been recognized by his supervisors, and in January he was promoted to be a trainer of new cashiers. He has been a loyal Target employee for 13 years!  Over the years he has worked in the deli, as a cart attendant, and as a stocker before moving up to cashier. He has an excellent memory, knowing most of the produce codes which means he doesn’t have to take the time to look at the label before entering in the code. This speeds up his line, which customers appreciate. Way to go, Darren!

For Danielle, finding a job that aligns with her personal goals and values fills her heart with happiness. Danielle recently celebrated one year at KinderCare child care center, where she works as a classroom instructor. “I’ve always felt this is the field I need to be in,” Danielle said. “I relate well to the families, and the kids are great.” Opportunity Partners helped set the stage for success by offering Danielle job readiness training and skills for independence. After starting as a classroom assistant at KinderCare, Danielle worked hard to pass the necessary classes to obtain certification to be an independent classroom instructor. “I’m very proud of myself,” she said. “I’m also very blessed and grateful.” Congratulations, Danielle!

Torin wanted a job close to home where he could help people and make a difference. With Opportunity Partners’ support, he landed a position as a lot attendant at Home Depot, which proved to be a great match for his skills and goals. Torin also stepped up to mentor a peer who was exploring employment opportunities, demonstrating kindness and patience as he answered questions about his job experiences. His achievements recently earned him an Impact Award from Opportunity Partners! Great job, Torin!

“I love working here,” said Trisha, happy to work for an organization that values teamwork and inclusion. Opportunity Partners has collaborated with Silvercrest Properties for more than 15 years. The senior housing management company has hired 10 employees from OP throughout the years at several locations, including Park Shore Campus, Village Shore Campus and others. Trisha’s duties include dining room and dish room support, helping operations run smoothly. We are so grateful for dedicated employees like Trisha!

Nicole works four days a week at various Opportunity Partners Supported Employment Team sites, including Life Fitness and Medtronic CRMD. “I like that I get to work at multiple sites so I am able to have variety in my days,” Nicole said. Her staff describe her as a go-getter, who is punctual and has great attendance. Nicole also is a strong support for her peers on the job, using her skills to help train others. Sounds like a model employee! Great job, Nicole!

The history of NDEAM traces back to 1945 when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

“Every day, individuals with disabilities add significant value and talent to our workforce and economy,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “Individuals with disabilities offer employers diverse perspectives on how to tackle challenges and achieve success. Individuals with disabilities have the right talent, right now.”