SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - 74 years ago, Congress designated the first week in October to recognize people with disabilities.
Now, throughout the entire month of October — the contributions of workers with disabilities are honored with National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
“Employers don’t realize there are so many employees out there now that need a second chance,” explains Goodwill Industries’ Director of Workforce Development Lynn Stevens.
“They have a small disability, not so drastic, severe, or physical,” Stevens said, who helps find and place over 2,000 eager job seekers with available jobs, every year.
"I'm one of those disabilities and I go to work every day."
At age 21, Stevens was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy shortly after giving birth to her firstborn.
“Shocked,” Stevens remembers. “It’s like when someone says you have cancer, you don’t know what to say, or what to do.”
And three years ago, her then-teenage son was also diagnosed with muscular dystrophy.
Despite losing the ability to walk a few years ago, Stevens remains very spirited in her work, helping those with disabilities.
“It really thrills my heart because some people had given up hope a little bit. And here we are, cheering them on, every day,” Stevens said.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the jobless rate among workers with disabilities is double that of those without disabilities.
“Goodwill not only celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities — but we also want to bring awareness to issues they face in gaining meaningful employment,” adds David Tinkis, President/CEO of Goodwill Industries of North Louisiana.
Tevin Persley of Shreveport, a college graduate, credits Goodwill for helping him find a job as an auditor at a local casino. Persley was the focus of a ‘The Good Stuff’ segment earlier this year titled, ‘Second Impressions’. Earlier in October, KSLA News 12′s Doug Warner also featured Tony Jones in a ‘The Good Stuff’ segment titled, ‘Love before first sight.’
Jones, diagnosed with macular degeneration, was given extensive guidance by the Louisiana Association for the Blind in preparing for his future without sight, and landing a job as a print shop employee.
Spencer Harrison, highlighted in 2018′s ‘The Good Stuff: What can Brown do for Spencer’, also overcome his special needs diagnosis, and is set to return to work with UPS again this holiday season.
The United Parcel Service eventually offered his seasonal employment during the 2018 Christmas season after learning of his love of UPS.