March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Goodwill Columbus is calling on area businesses to consider hiring individuals with disabilities.  March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. This year’s theme, “Ability at Work,” encourages the public to understand that when people with disabilities work in the community, everyone wins.

“For the past 75 years, Goodwill Columbus has been dedicated to providing work opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities and other barriers,” said Goodwill Columbus President and CEO Margie Pizzuti. “We know individuals with disabilities are a great asset to the workforce.” Goodwill Columbus serves hundreds of individuals with disabilities each year, empowering through work opportunities. This includes people like Tony Kelly, 31, of New Albany.

Diagnosed with cerebral palsy, mild MR and Stevens Johnson syndrome, life has not always been easy for Tony.  He participates in Goodwill Columbus’s New Generation Work and Activity Services program. The program provides unique and varied opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities, ages 18 to 44.  Through the program, participants like Tony are involved in art, fitness and community activities, while also having the opportunity to work and earn a paycheck.  

When he wasn’t participating in social activities with peers at Goodwill, Tony elected to work processing clothing for Goodwill’s retail stores and other contract jobs that come in for Goodwill. He credits the staff at Goodwill for providing him the support he needed to become more confident “I had never known staff members who wanted to help me like that,” he said. “That’s why I like coming to Goodwill.”

With his newfound confidence, Tony excelled in his work and made an impression on his supervisors. When he expressed a desire to make more money to start a life with his fiancé, Goodwill staff took action. When a part- time custodial job became available at Goodwill Columbus’s headquarters, staff knew the perfect man for the job. Now, Tony works part time five days. He receives close, caring supervision and a bigger paycheck. “It feels wonderful to earn more than before,” Tony said.  “It’s going great.” In addition to working, he enjoys social activities with his New Generations peers two days a week. “They’re like my brothers and sisters,” he said.

Goodwill is looking to community employers to consider hiring individuals with disabilities. “Our goal is to help the individuals we serve reach their employment goals,” said Leesa Bennett, Goodwill Columbus Strategic Employment Coordinator. “Tony is not the exception. We have so many individuals who are ready to work in the community.” Bennett is hopeful that by spreading awareness and educating employers, more individuals with disabilities will have a chance to enter the workforce. 

ABOUT GOODWILL COLUMBUS:

Goodwill Columbus has been serving the local community since 1939, building independence, quality of life and work opportunities for individuals with disabilities and other barriers. Goodwill Columbus is the fifth largest nonprofit in central Ohio and is among the top 100 employers.  Goodwill Columbus provides nearly 1.2 million hours of service annually to more than 4,100 participants with disabilities and other barriers through day habilitation programs, community-based supported living services, employment training and job placement services.  For more information on Goodwill Columbus, please visit our website at www.goodwillcolumbus.org