Matt Easterday is a pillar of the Zionsville Kroger. Most of the regulars know him by name and are always appreciative of his expert bagging skills and positive attitude.
Known as “Mr. D.”, Michael Daniels has been an employee at the Fort Ben Commissary since 1986. He is regarded across the Goodwill network as a reliable and trustworthy employee who is beloved by his coworkers.
Cesar Rodriguez is a graduate of Goodwill’s Janitorial Training Program and a recent hire at the Minton-Capehart Federal Building. During his tenure at Goodwill, he has developed hard and soft skills that make him an invaluable asset.
What do these individuals have in common? They’re all essential workers who also happen to have disabilities.
Today marks the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a milestone in the disability rights movement that resulted in increased accessibility and employment opportunities for people like Matt, Cesar and Mr. D. The freedom that comes with the Americans with Disabilities Act includes the heavy responsibility of employment in times of pandemic, as evidenced by all three of these gentlemen, who have remained consistently working since March.
As a result of COVID-19, the general public has developed a greater appreciation for the “essential workers” who continue to ensure our shelves are stocked, our groceries are bagged and our public areas are clean. In our time of need, essential workers with disabilities did not falter in their commitment to work, but they do not wish to be treated as heroes or extraordinary individuals—all they desire is to be contributing members of society where they are equally represented.
As we reflect on the last 30 years of progress, I ask you to recognize the sacrifices that persons with disabilities make to secure employment and consider how we can further develop a culture of inclusion.