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People Inc. Continues Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Oct 05, 2023

Ensuring that people with developmental disabilities and other disabilities secure and maintain meaningful, competitive employment is an important part of what People Inc. does year-round. Each October, People Inc. recognizes National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), a time set aside to commemorate the many contributions of people with disabilities to America’s workplaces and economy. The national theme for NDEAM 2023, “Advancing Access and Equity: Then, Now and Next,” celebrates the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities past and present and showcases supportive, inclusive policies and practices that benefit employees and employers alike.

2023 is also the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This Act laid the foundation upon which the more comprehensive Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 now stands. These laws continue to be vital tools used to advance access and equity for workers from historically underserved communities.

WNY Employment Consortium Recognizes People Inc. Partnerships

Each October, during NDEAM, New York State Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) celebrates the work of partners who join to make the connection between businesses seeking qualified workers and workers with varying abilities. On a local level, these partnerships are celebrated through the WNY Employment Consortium. During the annual luncheon recently, People Inc. had the opportunity to acknowledge two area organizations who have created a welcoming work environment so that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are able to learn, thrive and contribute to their communities.

Buffalo & Erie County Public Library - Audubon Branch
The Audubon Branch of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, in Amherst, is an exemplary employer who we have partnered with for more than 10 years. In this time, they have employed numerous people with varying abilities. In addition to direct hiring, they have also utilized the OPWDD Employment Training Program (ETP) through People Inc. to assist in the personal success of people seeking to enter the workforce. At present, two people who are supported by People Inc. are employed at the library. Librarian Beth Staebell prepares the people we support to take on the duties of a library page. She is a patient, approachable, honest, and compassionate teacher. Beth, and the employees of Audubon Library have demonstrated an understanding of the importance of meaningful work for people with disabilities and is worthy of recognition for their commitment. They have been both accommodating and supportive of the people we serve and are a contributing factor to their great success. They have provided opportunities for growth, and make the new employees feel fully included in their work environment. Audubon Library has embraced the idea that hiring a person with a disability makes sense.  It offers them flexibility to be productive and to educate not only co-workers, but the public, that we all have our own unique qualities and abilities. This relationship has resulted in consistent, successful employment for people, making them feel included in their workplace, as well as society.  It is organizations like this one that truly understand and foster the importance of maximizing people’s skills and minimizing deficits to ensure individual success.

Grace Guest House
Grace Guest House, a certified healthcare hospitality house in Buffalo, supports patients and their families by providing a haven and place of respite when receiving care at regional healthcare facilities. Grace provides overnight stays and day respite in a caring and compassionate environment. Beginning In 2018, they hired Justin Niemira as a groundskeeper through People Inc.’s Supported Employment Program. Today, he not only completes groundskeeping duties, but also cleans guest rooms, makes beds, vacuums, and cleans bathrooms. The management team is very patient and accommodating, especially when it comes to transportation needs. Justin utilizes paratransit, which can present challenges, sometimes resulting in inconsistent transportation. Grace Guest House has been very understanding of this and has worked with Justin on these issues. They refer to Justin as “J-Man” which naturally includes Justin as an integral part of the team and boosts his esteem, in turn, helping with his success. Not only has Grace Guest House employed people with varying abilities, but they have also welcomed groups from our other programs who volunteer at the site. All the management, board members and volunteers have created a welcoming community site that is a pleasure to work with in many different capacities, which in turn enhances the experiences of the many people we serve. For this partnership, we are so grateful.