October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), a period to celebrate the contributions of workers with disabilities. Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana, a proud employer of more than 1,600 people with disabilities, considers NDEAM a perfect opportunity to share our employees’ stories and distribute disability resources.
On October 24, 2023, Goodwill held an NDEAM Celebration at its corporate office located at 1635 W. Michigan St. With multiple resource tables to visit, attendees learned about the external and internal opportunities and resources Goodwill provides to employees with disabilities to create an inclusive workplace.
“This was our first in-person NDEAM event since the pandemic,” said Ashley Fritsch, a Goodwill Mission Initiatives employee, who led the organization of the celebration. “We were excited to bring it back and highlight these employees and the work Goodwill has been doing."
The event hosted representatives from Goodwill’s disability-centric career paths, such as the Janitorial Training Program (JTP), a 480-hour program designed for individuals with barriers to employment who are interested in commercial janitorial work. AbilityOne, a federal program that employs individuals and veterans with qualifying disabilities, also set up a resource table to discuss the program with interested attendees.
Bosma and Outside the Box also gave information on the services they provide to Goodwill employees, such as vocational and educational support. Easterseals Crossroads showcased the organization’s collection of loaner assistive technology devices, which are tools that help people with disabilities overcome day-to-day barriers and improve their functional capabilities.
These services not only informed Goodwill employees but gave them the tools to utilize in the future for themselves and their families. Justin DeGuzman, a Goodwill Mission Initiatives employee, emphasized the impact this event had.
“It feels good to give back and start a tradition of awareness and recognition for our employees with disabilities,” said Justin.
However, the employees with disabilities who attended the event were the most valuable resource provided at Goodwill’s NDEAM Celebration. Several Goodwill AbilityOne and JTP employees joined the celebration, sharing their experiences, achievements and stories themselves.
“Giving the spotlight to our employees with disabilities and raising up their accomplishments during this event is an important contribution to Goodwill’s culture,” said Justin. “Being heavily involved with AbilityOne has exposed me to so many powerful stories of success and perseverance.”