The SCV Mayor’s Committee for Employment of Individuals with Disabilities organized an exciting working, learning, and teaching event during October, which is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). NDEAM dates back to 1945 when Congress declared the first week in October as the time for special efforts to be made in raising awareness of people with disabilities.
The October 17 event, a Complimentary Continental Breakfast, took place in a classroom and meeting space on the AMS Fulfillment campus that is often made available to organizations in the SCV community. The breakfast was envisioned as a time to gain inspiration and work on a future event as well.
This summer the Mayor’s Committee sponsored an art contest for students with disabilities from the William S. Hart School District. The student artwork was on display, and attendees of the breakfast had the opportunity to vote for their favorite. The winning artwork will be featured on the award that will be presented at the SCV Mayor’s Committee Business Recognition Banquet, scheduled for Feb 2018. At the February event businesses committed to inclusion of individuals with disabilities will be recognized, and the winning artists will receive a monetary prize.
The theme for NDEAM is chosen by the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) Department of Labor. This year’s theme “Inclusion Drives Innovation” was embraced as the theme of the breakfast. Ken Wiseman, Mayor’s Committee Chair, opened the event with words of inspiration on the theme, and he gave an update on the work of the Committee. Santa Clarita Councilman, Bob Kellar spoke of how proud he was of the Mayor’s Committee, and what they are doing for the Santa Clarita community, saying he was honored to be invited to participate.
Vivian Kimoto of the Department of Rehabilitation and a Mayor’s Committee Vice Chair, shared the history of NDEAM and offered insight into its significance. Vivian said, “We are gaining momentum in Santa Clarita as we gain attention and success in raising awareness of the benefits of employing individuals with disabilities.”
The featured speaker was Tom Iland, who introduced his and his mother Emily Iland’s newly released book “Come To Life! ~ Your Guide to Self-Discovery”.
Margie Melendez, guest and AMS associate, said: “Tom Iland gave such an inspiring speech about how he came from being diagnosed at age 13 with autism and is now achieving all that he is, at age 33. He graduated from California State University Northridge, is a CPA and a motivational speaker. His talk makes us all the more dedicated to hiring individuals with disabilities, and being a part of their success.”
The Mayor’s Committee, guests and other speakers all came away from the event inspired, and with renewed commitment after hearing Tom tell his story. His website tells more about his life, beginning with the mantra: Know yourself. Love yourself. Be yourself. After he spoke, Tom signed copies of the new book that he had introduced.
The Inclusion Drives Innovation Breakfast turned out to be an exceptional recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month and a true SCV Mayor’s Committee success.
Recalling the event, the attendees and the speakers, Ken said, “I felt the event embodied all that the Mayor’s Committee set out to accomplish at the breakfast meeting. This group was primarily the professionals that work with individuals preparing them for employment. It has been hard work in years past to place many individuals, but we are seeing success in raising awareness, more individuals with disabilities are finding meaningful work, and that is very rewarding.”