Working Together to Find the Right Fit: Employing People with Disabilities

Grace’s dream job is to work in retail or customer service especially if the job has anything to do with reading or books. Ray Graham Association’s Employment Services program worked with Grace to provide her with all the skills necessary to work retail such as computer keyboarding, filing, serving and organizing. She is also reliable, considerate and energetic. Grace is one of the many people with disabilities who are seeking employment – meaningful employment. Today, 10.4% of people with disabilities are unemployed, despite having years of education, training and experience. Many are also underemployed and are often living at poverty level.

As the demands for employment among people with disabilities has grown throughout DuPage and surrounding counties, so have the efforts at Ray Graham Association’s (RGA) Employment Services Program.  “We’re thinking differently these days about how we help people with a disability find a job,” said Sara Scruggs, Employment Services Administrator.  “We’ve learned to work with potential employers and find out what they need in an employee.  Once we know their needs, we can better match them with someone in our program.  The result is long-term employment and happiness for the person with a disability, and a satisfied, grateful employer.”

As part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an annual awareness campaign that takes place each October, RGA’s Employment Services Program and Community Learning Centers are partnering with Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Naperville on a Disability Employment Expo on October 24 from 9:00am – noon. The event will be located at 815 S. Washington, Naperville and is open to the public. For more information contact: Cindi Swanson, Disability Ministry Coordinator at 630-355-2522.

Today, Grace is working as a Café Assistant at the DuPage Children’s Museum in Naperville.  “Staff at the Children’s Museum worked with RGA to determine exactly what they were looking for in a new employee, and Grace was a perfect match,” shared Scruggs. “Grace loves serving customers in the Café which is very evident from the smile on her face each day.”

Ray Graham Association provides residential, educational, employment, and recreational services to over 2,000 people with disabilities and their families in 35 sites located throughout DuPage County.  For more information, visit www.raygraham.org.

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