During this month our thoughts turn to winter and harvest, and giving thanks. We also reflect on whether our work has brought about a harvest that benefits individuals with disabilities in the workforce. A news item posted at the JP Morgan Chase website quotes Jim Sinocchi, head of the Office of Disability Inclusion, on changes that are taking place.

“This is a new era. People with disabilities are coming into firms with the right qualifications and competing for jobs that able-bodied people are doing. And they are not here to replace able-bodied people, by no means — they want to be part of a workforce because they have the skills.”

The Mayor’s Committee is thankful for the changes that we see, and the realization that individuals with disabilities are an asset in the workplace.

Mayor’s Committee member Jennifer Zimmerman, who serves as Supported Employment Coordinator at Pleasantview Industries, offers more expressions of gratitude, these coming from clients who are individuals with disabilities in competitive employment in our community. The following responses came when she asked her clients “Why are you thankful for your job?”

I get to make my own money.
I am learning and growing in the skills I learned at school.
I was able to buy a car.
I get to help the company make money. (This client gets bonuses if the company does well each quarter.)
That’s what adults do and I am an adult.
I get to be like everyone in my family and have a job also.
We all work together. (This client works on an assembly line.)
If it comes to it, I can help provide for my family financially.
I get to be around people that like me even though they know I have a job coach.
I enjoy cooking and I get to use my skills at my job. (This client does prep work for a restaurant.)
I like to clean and my job does not feel like a job. (This client is a janitor and he loves to clean.)
Pleasantview helped me learn how to know my disability so I am not so awkward in talking to people at work. (WOW!)
I go to Six Flags Magic Mountain with my co-workers cause it’s something we all have in common.
I have never had a job before.
I get to help people and make their day happier.
I have a job like my friends that go to college.
Management and my co-workers are nice to me and they listen to me when we need things fixed.
I am respected.
I get medical insurance.
I get to work at night and I am not a morning/day person.
I can walk to work.
I am part of the company.
I am more confident in myself.

Jennifer said, “I am so proud of my clients. They are an untapped group of people that tend to be overlooked in the workforce but are such valuable employees. All of the responses listed are things that we all want out of life and having a job enriches our lives. The answers they gave me are perfect examples of how working has enriched my clients’ lives.

“I am very thankful and proud of the Mayor’s Committee and for our success in reaching out to employers. I’m thankful for all the employers that I work with, who trust me, and who have been open minded and willing to learn about this untapped workforce.”

Thank you to those who use the Committee as a resource in answering questions about persons with disabilities, and who know we are looking out for their business as well. We truly value and are grateful for all relationships we have established over the years and continue to establish. There is so much to be thankful for.

Have a Great Thanksgiving from the Mayor’s Committee!