Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month Through Art

    [fa icon="calendar"] Oct 20, 2023 3:00:00 PM / by Jonathan Lutes

    October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), a period to celebrate the contributions of workers with disabilities. Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana is proud to be an employer to nearly 1,600 persons with disabilities which equates to one-third of our workforce. Many of our employees with disabilities are empowered through accommodations and understanding to increase their independence and reach their full potential.

    To celebrate NDEAM, Goodwill is highlighting employees with disabilities and asking them to illustrate what disability means to them. Adonis Moncrief and Lee Bates are both Goodwill Commercial Services employees through Goodwill’s AbilityOne program. AbilityOne is a federal program that employs individuals and veterans with qualifying disabilities. As artists, Adonis and Lee were asked to share their artwork and perspectives on disability.

    In 2014, Adonis began his career by participating in the Janitorial Training Program (JTP), designed for individuals with barriers to employment who may be interested in commercial janitorial work. After completing the 480-hour training and graduating from the program, Adonis worked various janitorial positions with Goodwill for several years.

    In 2018, Adonis applied for and received the promotion to the mail clerk role in the Internal Revenue Services mailroom at the Minton Capehart Federal Building. Now, Adonis works independently, providing great customer service while sorting, tracking, labeling and sending mail.

    Adonis also exemplifies Goodwill’s values by being a continual learner.

    “I love to read and learn new things,” said Adonis. “Learning is a non-stop process.”

    Adonis’s art is inspired by stories of individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities who have defied societal expectations to achieve their goals. Similarly, Adonis displays triumph over adversity and is a reminder that with a compassionate heart and grit, we can achieve extraordinary accomplishments. 

    Our second featured artist is Lee Bates, who also started at Goodwill through the Janitorial Training Program in 2010. His training transitioned into a janitorial position at Goodwill’s corporate office. In 2012, Lee seized the opportunity to move to the Birch Bayh Federal Courthouse. 

    Lee gained the experience and essential skills to perform well in his position and earned a promotion to the night supervisor role, one of his proudest professional achievements.

    “What Goodwill has done for me is rare,” said Lee. “I never would have thought that I would have these opportunities.”

    He was inspired to create his artwork because of his love for Stevie Wonder’s music and the barriers the musician had to overcome to be successful with his art. Lee is excited about the opportunity to share his artwork, as his dad and great-grandmother were artists. He is proud to continue his family’s talent.


    Topics: Disability, Goodwill Commercial Services, #NDEAM

    Jonathan Lutes

    Written by Jonathan Lutes

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