National Disability Employment Awareness Month highlights need for diversity in workforce, shatters stigma
LEWES, Del. – For three employees in Beebe Healthcare’s Environmental Services department, their disabilities translate to determination.
For Erin Stevenson, that means getting work done and putting smiles on patients faces. “It made my life a lot better and I’ve set goals for myself and stuff like that,” Stevenson said.
“They’re very good and I wish we had more employees like them here,” Willis said.
It’s a partnership between the healthcare system and EasterSeals, with a focus on job placement for individuals with disabilities. “The nice thing when you’re working with an organization like EasterSeals is that they come with a job coach. So they learn the tasks alongside them and work with them until they’re comfortable enough to do it individually and that can take a week, a month, or 6 months,” Beebe Healthcare’s Director of Environmental Services Iris Verdi said.
October marks National Disability Employment Awareness Month, highlighting the need for more inclusiveness and diversity in the workforce.
With shortages still lingering in the labor market, we’re told these ladies aren’t just filling vacancies but shattering the stigma around those with disabilities. “Everybody’s unique and they have different talents and a different creative uniqueness. We focus on that,” Lead Employment Specialist for EasterSeals Kim Edmonds said.
“We didn’t know how incredible they would be until after they started. Now a year later, there’s probably nothing in that department they can’t do,” Verdi said.
Linen Department Manager Jason Willis says they’re are also creating a path for those just like them to follow. “My son’s autistic and so these ladies hold a special place in my heart,” Willis said.
“If its wasn’t for them and for this program, my son might not have a place to work when he gets older.”
“I get to hangout with all my now friends who are my coworkers here. I made a lot of friends here,” Stevenson said.
The girls celebrated their one year anniversary at Beebe in August.
Due to the success, the Environmental Services Department tells us they’re already in the works to fill more openings with the help of EasterSeals participants.
There’s also been action taken on the state level in Delaware, with the Jamie Wolfe Employment Act signed into law last year to raise the minimum wage for those with disabilities.