Local view: People with disabilities bring unique talents to the workplace
Communities need productive employees who use their talents and creativity to produce results and grow our nation's economy. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and Goodwill Duluth encourages the public and private sectors ...
Communities need productive employees who use their talents and creativity to produce results and grow our nation's economy. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and Goodwill Duluth encourages the public and private sectors to hire applicants with disabilities -- and benefit from the unique talents they bring to the workplace.
People with disabilities bring commitment to their jobs, reducing an employer's costs of repeated hiring and training. They may bring potential tax credits, too, that can be leveraged for the employer's benefit.
A diversified workforce attracts a broader customer base and provides an opportunity for a business to demonstrate its social responsibility -- with a work force that includes people with disabilities, ranging from youths to older workers and military veterans.
Through its job training programs, Goodwill Duluth helps people with disabilities, like Josh Morris, find the right jobs, develop their careers and live more independently.
Morris, who has mild cerebral palsy and hearing and visual impairments, has seen his life change since coming to work at Goodwill as a trainee in June 2006.
He started out in various jobs, ranging from office work to dishwashing, both at Goodwill and at its community employment sites. A turning point came when he requested more hours and began working on one of Goodwill's donation-sorting lines.
"My supervisor has taught me a lot of my work ethic that I didn't have before I worked here at Goodwill," said Morris, 30. "My main goal is to be able to show my employer and my co-workers that I am a dedicated, willing worker, and they can rely on me and count on me to get the job done."
A hardworking jack-of-all-trades, Morris, through the years, has proven himself to be a dependable employee in many different departments at Goodwill. Most recently, he's been working in the Duluth retail store and its clearance sales room. He enjoys the work, the customer interactions and the independence the job offers.
"It's just been the best position for me," Morris said.
In addition to learning how to be a reliable worker, Morris attained his goal of sensible weight loss. Through a healthy diet and the physical work he does at Goodwill, he shed more than 100 pounds since 2007 when he weighed more than 300 pounds. He now works with a personal trainer at the YMCA twice a week to regain muscle mass and to maintain a healthy weight in the 170-pound range.
Morris' future goals are to continue to live up to his potential by working hard and to eventually find a community job that won't tie him to a desk.
"I can't imagine myself being in an office position, sitting at a computer anymore," Morris said.
Morris is one of many capable employees in our community who have a disability or other barrier to employment. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is 16 percent, nearly double the rate of the general population. You can make a difference. If you have a job opening at your business, consider hiring a person with a disability. Take advantage of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Learn more about the benefits of employing people with disabilities. It's a smart business decision. It's a win for them, for you and for the community.
Valerie Clark is a public relations specialist for Goodwill Duluth.