October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Gateway Services, located at 406 S. Gosse Blvd in Princeton, is taking the opportunity to highlight the importance of employment for everyone.
The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month traces back to 1945 when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year ‘National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.’
In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
“We are proud to be a part of this year’s awareness efforts,” Tracy Wright, CEO of Gateway Services said. “We want everyone to know that people with disabilities have many abilities and might just be some of the best employees you have ever hired.”
Gateway’s Community Employment Services program provides a variety of services to prepare individuals for jobs in Bureau, Marshall, and Putnam Counties. This may include job shadowing to learn about different jobs, building a resume, or preparing for an interview.
“Employers can benefit from the program by knowing they have a source of support, a resource for training or problem-solving,” Wright said. “Usually it’s a win-win situation.”
Corteva Agriscience is one local employer that has recently established a partnership with Gateway Services.
“Corteva approached us about the possibility of labeling seed bags and we were quick to note that we no longer have a sheltered workshop,” Wright said. “After visiting the site, talking with the supervisor and learning of their plans, everything has worked out well.”
Corteva was quick to include individuals in their daily interactions and the employees have been treated the same as everyone else.
“At Corteva Agriscience, we’ve had a great experience working with employees hired through Gateway’s Community Employment Services program,” Katrin Newton, Administrative Supervisor at Corteva Agriscience said.
“We started with 5 workers this past year and anticipate that number growing with our packaging season later this fall. We’ve enjoyed getting to know these employees in the process. Everyone always comes in with great enthusiasm and willingness to work hard and they do their jobs well.”
Employers interested in learning more about the program can contact Michael Brown, Community Employment Services Supervisor, at (815) 875-4548 Ext. 255. For more information, visit Gateway’s Facebook page throughout the month.