Inclusion Works for All of Us: National Disability Employment Awareness Month

National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Inclusion Works.

There’s nothing like a success story to make you take notice of something.  This month, National Disability Employment Awareness Month, I want to share a little bit about someone we served at Mosaic for years.  His story is inspiring.

Ron Niedfeldt came to Mosaic (Martin Luther Home at the time) in 1965.  His parents wanted to make sure he got an education and had opportunities that they knew would not be available in the small town where they lived.

Ron excelled – he quickly made friends, learned to read, do basic math and learned many of the skills needed to take care of himself, such as managing money.  As an adult, with some job coaching, Ron got a job.

And he stayed with that job, at a manufacturing plant, for more than 25 years.  He was so well-respected there that, when the CEO retired, Ron was one of only 30 people invited to his retirement banquet.  The CEO gave Ron a gift – a framed print titled, “The Essence of Persistence.” 

On the back, the CEO wrote, “Thanks for all your support and dedication over the years. In your own way, you have inspired me through tough times.”Ron

Wow. 

On Mosaic’s materials celebrating National Disability Awareness Month, we state: “Inclusion works for all of us: employees, employers, the community. It creates opportunities, builds independence, fulfills dreams.”  The theme is simply #InclusionWorks.

Ron’s story shows the truth of those words.  Inclusion works.  We need more employers to understand that. 

I am always pleased when I see someone with a disability employed.  It is not common.  According to a 2011 report from The ARC, families reporting data showed that only 7 percent of people with intellectual disabilities have competitive pay jobs in the community.  A whopping 85 percent are unemployed.

Yet, with the right coaching, simple accommodations and employers willing to give someone a chance, that number could rise dramatically. 

And lives would be changed. 

If you know of workplaces that employ people with disabilities, commend and support them.  If you have an opportunity to hire someone, consider whether you might find someone like Ron – loyal, dependable and good to know. 

#InclusionWorks.  Yes it does.

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