SARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – This month, as the U.S. recognizes National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, Goodwill Manasota is calling on area businesses to consider hiring individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, which takes place in March each year, is an opportunity to increase public awareness of the needs and potential of Americans with developmental disabilities.
Intellectual and developmental disabilities may include Down syndrome, autism, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, fetal alcohol syndrome, and other disorders. When President Reagan initially proclaimed the observance in 1987, he said, “I urge all Americans to join me in according to our fellow citizens with such disabilities both encouragement and the opportunities they need to lead productive lives and to achieve their full potential.”
Goodwill Manasota is dedicated to helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to achieve personal and professional success through its employment and training programs. While the organization employs numerous employees with a range of disabilities and other impediments to finding work, Goodwill’s Supported JobsPlus (SJP) program targets sustainable employment for those with significant disabilities. It identifies positions throughout the organization to earmark for a person with a disability. Through partnerships with agencies throughout Sarasota, Manatee, Hardee and DeSoto counties, individuals who have been unsuccessful obtaining employment elsewhere and have a desire to work are referred to Goodwill. Currently, Goodwill Manasota employs 84 team members – nearly 11 percent of its total workforce – through the SJP program.
“Goodwill Manasota is committed to providing work opportunities for individuals with disabilities and other barriers to employment,” said Goodwill Manasota President and CEO Bob Rosinsky. “Numerous studies have shown that hiring qualified individuals with disabilities offers significant opportunities for employers to access new markets, increase retention, and improve productivity through finding innovative and effective ways of doing business. And it’s not just good business – it’s also the right thing to do.”
One outstanding example of the mutual benefits of the SJP program is Joseph ‘Dalton’ Rimer. Goodwill was introduced to Rimer through a collaborative effort with the Easterseals Southwest Florida VIP Academy, a vocational curriculum offered at his high school. The goal of the partnership was to help participants to learn job skills, feel the dignity of earning a paycheck, and lead more independent lives.
Rimer took advantage of the opportunity. While he did well at all of the in-store tasks he was assigned, he excelled at greeting. The store manager told one of Rimer’s teachers that he wanted to hire him. After his graduation from the VIP Academy, he was provided job coaching services at the Goodwill Mecca store, where he was hired as a greeter.
The job skills training Rimer has received is not entirely in support of in-store responsibilities. He also needed to learn how to navigate the MCAT/SCAT bus system in order to ensure his safe arrival at work, among other logistical and interpersonal areas.
He continues to attend adult services at Easterseals from 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. every day and then leaves after lunch to catch the bus to his job at Goodwill. Rimer is proud of his job: he wears his Goodwill vest and name tag all day. His parents are thrilled with the independence and growth that employment at Goodwill has provided him.
Goodwill urges area employers to hire individuals like Rimer. “We have many team members with disabilities and we find they are exemplary employees with regard to their positive attitude, productivity, reliability, and stability,” said Rosinsky. “There are so many individuals like Dalton in the community who are ready to work – they just need someone to give them a chance.”
For more about Goodwill’s SJP program, go to experiencegoodwill.org/impact/mission-services or call (941) 355-2721.
About Goodwill Manasota
Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With the sales of donated goods and philanthropic donations, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities and other barriers to employment by providing job skills training and employment opportunities. In 2017, Goodwill Manasota served 11,672 people, placed 555 people in jobs, assisted 360 veterans as they reintegrated back into the civilian workforce, and provided 19,540 hours of on-the-clock training for its employees. Goodwill Manasota’s economic impact back to the community is worth $92.1 million. Goodwill is one of the pioneers of the reduce-reuse-recycle movement and this past year diverted more than 41 million pounds out of the landfill. Goodwill Manasota is accountable to a local Board of Directors. Goodwill Manasota, in essence, belongs to this community and is not owned by any individual or company. For more information, visit www.experiencegoodwill.org.