A Job is Often More Than Just a Job

Jobs empower people. Ask Steve, someone supported by Mosaic in Northern Colorado.

Last month, Steve celebrated his 14th anniversary of working at Kohl’s by jumping out of an airplane—for the second time. 

Steve’s life is full of things he enjoys. He has a girlfriend, he’s a musician, he’s a fan of electronics and can tear things apart and put them back together. Holding a job is just one piece of his busy life.

But it’s an important piece, worth celebrating with a skydive.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Through my work at Mosaic, I’ve met individuals we support who work in retail and at grocery stories, in restaurants, churches and movie theaters. I’ve met someone who works for the city parks and recreation department and another who works shredding confidential documents.

They all have one thing in common—they’re proud of having a job. One of my earliest experiences at Mosaic 18 years ago was meeting a woman we support who introduced herself, and then added, “I work here. I make money.”

I also smile every time I see one of our historical photos where simple joy is reflected in the face of a young woman receiving one of her first paychecks. 

A former director of Martin Luther Home (which joined Bethphage to create Mosaic) once wrote: “A job is more than a place to go everyday … it is even more than a means of earning a living. In our society, a person’s work is closely related to status, and status to self-respect.”

Earlier this year, we had an opportunity to speak with Amber, who is supported by Living Innovations in New Hampshire, about her work. Earning money was not the first thing she noted about her work. Instead, she listed the other benefits, like being able to interact with others.  Amber clearly enjoys her work—and said it energizes her. You can hear directly from Amber in this video.

Hiring people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) is not doing an act of charity, it is being a smart business person. Often, if a person with IDD lands a job they enjoy, they will stay with it for years.

Everywhere I go, I see signs with “Help Wanted” and “Now Hiring.” There is a pool of people waiting for the opportunity to fill some of those jobs, people who may be overlooked because they have a disability. 

As you’re out and about, if you see someone with a disability working somewhere, give them a simple, “Nice job!” If you happen to see their manager, thank them for giving an opportunity to someone with a disability.

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