People with Developmental Disabilities Deserve Employment Opportunities
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and the theme is “America’s Recovery Powered By Inclusion.” Given the ongoing economic challenges we face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we need employers to know that many people with developmental disabilities are ready, willing, and able to do the work our country needs.
Two of the people we support who have developmental disabilities shared their stories in honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
Daymont, 28 years old, has been receiving day habilitation services from S:US for 10 years. Day hab programs reduce the barriers to community inclusion by building each individual’s practical skills. These skills include communication and self-preservation, community awareness, independent living, and pre-vocational skills attained by volunteering in the community.
He works for DPH Property Maintenance Service. Daymont goes out to S:US homes in the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn and does maintenance work. He does snow and junk removals too.
“I get paid. I do well and do a good job,” said Daymont. “I am a hard worker. When people need me, it makes me happy. I am not afraid to work because I’m vaccinated and I wear a face mask when I work.”
Daymont also works with our Urban Farms team. Daymont participated in landscape design and employment readiness trainings. He learned how to use tools to care for lawns, trees, flowers and shrubs, and to build gardening skills. Daymont also acquired job interviewing tips and tricks, communication skills, and learned how to maintain a positive attitude in the workplace. He is willing to learn and loves to be of service to others.
Daymont wants people to know that he’s doing a great job, and his disability doesn’t prevent him from doing good work. He said, “My job is outside, I get fresh air, and I like working with people and making their houses look nice and clean.”
Daymont lives in an S:US IRA in the Bronx with one roommate. An Individualized Residential Alternative (IRA) is a permanent home for individuals with an intellectual and/or developmental disability. IRAs are designed and operated to provide a safe comfortable home environment where someone with a developmental or other intellectual disability can live as independently as they are able.
Daymont’s family lives in Brooklyn and Binghamton. He has three sisters and five brothers, with four nieces and four nephews. He sees his parents often.
David, 36 years old, has been receiving services from S:US for three years. He does volunteer work in the community as part of the day hab program. “I live with my mother in Manhattan. I have one brother and three sisters, with a lot of nieces and nephews,” said David.
David has also been working at CVS for nearly two years, even during the pandemic. Starting in 2017, CVS partnered with S:US on providing training opportunities for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. S:US staff worked diligently to incorporate the trainings into the day habilitation schedules, learn the CVS way, and supported participants to be successful. So far, 68 individuals have completed the trainings. David participated in the 8-week training program and got the job.
“I take the train to work, I am independent, and I love it,” said David. He likes talking to people and helping them. He works on Wednesdays and Fridays, stocking the shelves, helping unload the truck, and providing customer service.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, he felt a little scared because he wasn’t yet vaccinated. “I wear a mask all the time. My mom was afraid for me in the beginning too.” Now that he’s vaccinated, he’s not worried. He likes everything about his job.
He wants people with developmental disabilities to try to get a job. He said, “If I can do it, they can do it too.”
S:US’ Developmental Disabilities Services serves approximately 800 individuals who have been diagnosed with an intellectual and/or developmental disability, as well as autism spectrum disorders and other psychiatric disorders. We assist individuals with disabilities to prepare for, secure and be successful in their work/volunteer environments. Supported Employment provides support to assist individuals to obtain and maintain paid competitive jobs in the community. S:US is an integral part of the communities that host our programs and services in every borough of New York City.