The Work We Do

For this blog I spent hours researching employment statistics for people with disabilities from around the world.  Unfortunately I wasn’t shocked by what I found.  Working in supported employment for approximately ten years, I’ve seen the difficulties people with disabilities encounter while looking for jobs.  I also guessed that because we are an industrialized nation our numbers would be higher than that of those in developing nations.

According to the United States Department of Labor, in the United States in 2012, 35 percent of men and women of working age with some type of disability were employed.  That means that a whopping 65 percent of the same group of people were unemployed.  As an employee of an agency that provides employment supports to people with disabilities these numbers blow my mind.  How can it be that so many capable people cannot find work due to their disability?  My thoughts are that there is a lack of understanding amongst potential employers.  They have not been educated as to the benefits of hiring a person with a disability.  They are uninformed in regards to the quality of work a person with a disability can produce.  It is time that those people living in this country become attuned to the necessity of those with disabilities finding work.  Their unemployment rates are far higher than those of their counterparts without disabilities whose unemployment rates fall around  22 percent.

The following is a list of all countries and land area’s unemployment rates for those with disabilities according to the United Nations:

Asia and the Pacific:  80-90 percent unemployment rate

European Union: 2-3 times as likely to be unemployed as their non-disabled counterparts

Latin America and the Caribbean:  80-90 percent unemployment rate

Argentina: 91 percent unemployment rate

Austria: 40 percent unemployment rate

Brazil:  90 percent unemployment rate

Bulgaria: 87 percent unemployment rate

Canada: 26% unemployment rate

Chile: 75 percent unemployment rate

Costa Rica: 65 percent unemployment rate

Estonia: 75 percent unemployment rate

Greece:  84 percent unemployment rate

Honduras:  68 percent unemployment rate

India:  94 percent unemployment rate

Ireland:  63 percent unemployment rate

Mexico:  86 percent unemployment rate

New Zealand: 71 percent unemployment rate

Phillippines:  43 percent unemployment rate

Republic of Korea:  30 percent unemployment rate

Russian Federation:  70 percent unemployment rate

Spain:  66 percent unemployment rate

Turkey:  93 percent unemployment rate

As you can see the unemployment rates for those living in industrialized nations are far lower than those in developing countries but nonetheless they are way too high.  How can we help you might ask?  That is a great question.  We can educate those we know on the importance of people with disabilities becoming part of the workforce.  We can meet with and explain to potential employers the benefits of hiring people with disabilities.  We can write to our legislators and push them to make employing people with disabilities a priority.  We can sign petitions and join in demonstrations.  Whatever our mode may be, we can get out there and do something.  It’s time to make employing people with disabilities a priority.

Epilepsy Awareness

This past weekend I participated in a walk-a-thon fundraiser for the National Epilepsy Foundation at Forest Park in Springfield.  It was a beautiful day and the turnout was tremendous given it was the first walk for epilepsy in this area.  There were many teams of people who were walking on behalf of someone close to them.  I walked for my sister, Mary, with my mother, father and a friend of the family’s who struggles with epilepsy herself.  Our group was named Mary’s Marauders in honor of my sister though we also walked for our friend, Nicole, the you young lady who walked along with us.

Epilepsy itself goes unnoticed unless an individual has a seizure in front of other people.  It comes in many forms from petite mal to grand mal with many types in between.  It is estimated that 130,000 people live with epilepsy in just four northeastern states alone.  Research for this condition is underfunded, which is why we walk.  All around the country fundraisers are held in an attempt to educate people as well as to gain the monies needed to promote further research.  Many people are completely unaware of the nature of this condition and it is up to those who have the knowledge to spread it to the masses.  As I said previously it is a silent disability, one that no one knows about just by looking at a person.  Perhaps this is why research is limited.

I’d like to invite all who read this to further educate themselves about epilepsy.  It is quite possible that we all know someone living with it.  It so frequently goes unnoticed that people tend to forget that it is out there affecting people in their every day lives.  For many with epilepsy life becomes limited due to seizures brought on by flashing or florescent lights, or just by the nature of the condition.  Epilepsy might be unseen but it is there. Please log on to your computers or talk with someone who has extensive knowledge and find out more about it. 

Film Festival

On February 4th, 2013 NEBA, in conjunction with Reel Abilities, will be hosting a disability related Film Festival. It will take place at the Scibelli Enterprise Center across the street from Springfield Technical Community College.  The event will begin at 6:00 with a half hour of networking and light refreshments followed by the viewing of three short films.  At the end there will be a period for questions and answers based upon the movies.

The films cover a range of topics.  The first demonstrates the relationship between a young man who uses a wheelchair and his able bodied friend.  The second film chronicles the life of a man recovering from a stroke.  The final film shows a triangular love story involving a young man who is blind.

The Film Festival will be the first in NEBA’s history.  It’s uncharted territory for us and will be an exciting new endeavor.  The room that we will be using only seats forty so we are asking people to R.S.V.P. to Bridgid Preston at (413)821-9200 ext. 129 or bridgid.preston@nebaworks .com

We hope to see a full room the evening of the 4th.  Please spread the word to as many people as you can.  We are looking forward to a great event!

  

Valley Gives

Today our community comes together for Valley Gives.  We need you to join us!

What is Valley Gives?  It’s 24 hours of unprecedented local nonprofit giving- and it’s your chance to make a real difference, right here in our community.

There are many great organizations that make the Pioneer Valley an amazing place to live and work.  If you love helping people realize their true potential, then we hope you will consider supporting New England Business Associates on Valley Gives Day.

By showing your love for NEBA through Valley Gives, you will help sustain an organization that works each day to ensure that individuals with disabilities have an opportunity to gain meaningful employment and experience life more fully.

Please participate in this great event today, 12/12/12.  You can find New England Business Associates at http://www.razoo.com/NEBA

The Spirit of Giving

Giving can take on many forms.  One may give another a material gift or else something intangible such as a compliment.  Perhaps a person may  give the gift of a smile or a pat on the back for a job well done.  There are many who wish to give something back to a person or organization that has made an impact on their lives, and many who give without the knowledge that they are even doing so.  Giving is a natural part of living and we all take part in it on some level.

With the holiday season upon us we begin to think of gifts to give to our loved ones.  We try to capture their essence in the gifts we select and hope that the gifts will bring smiles to their faces.  We feel joy when a gift we gave is well received and that in itself is a gift from the recipient.  The giver and the recipient both feel happy because of the gift .

Every day people give each other  compliments for many reasons.  Perhaps a person is dressed nicely or maybe they did really well on a project.  Compliments are yet another way to give.  They put smiles on people’s faces which in turn are gifts to the person who gave the compliment.  Even something so small as a smile or a pat on the back can be enough to turn a person’s day from dark to light; yet another way to give a gift.

For so many of us the need to give back to either a person or an organization is strong. At NEBA we are touched daily by our co-workers and those we support.  We may choose to give back to them in any of the ways above mentioned.  We feel the need to show them how much they mean to us and whatever our method of doing so we are giving them a gift.   Likewise we might feel the need to give back to an organization which we feel deserves credit for what they do.  We may choose to volunteer or make a donation to show our support.  We acknowledge their positive presence within our community and support their mission.

Giving is a way to make not only the recipient happy, but also the giver.  It can change a persons day and remind them that they are cared for.  Giving is a true expression of gratitude and we all have something to be grateful for.

Valley Gives

On 12/12/12 our community will come together for Valley Gives.  We need you to join us!

What is Valley Gives?  It is 24 hours of unprecedented LOCAL non-profit giving-and it’s your chance to make a real difference, right here in our community.

There are many great organizations that make the Pioneer Valley an amazing place to live and work.  If you love helping people realize their true potential, then we hope you will consider supporting New England Business Associates on Valley Gives Day.

By showing your love for NEBA through Valley Gives, you will help sustain an organization that works each day to ensure that individuals with disabilities have an opportunity to gain meaningful employment and experience life more fully.

Please participate in this great event by marking 12/12/12 on your calendar with a note to visit http://www.razoo.com/NEBA

WE THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Put Your Best Face Forward

As human service workers assisting people with disabilities in finding and maintaining employment, we are required to follow a dress code. One of the reasons for this is that we want to be taken seriously by prospective or familiar employers. The way we present ourselves may be the difference between a person gaining a new position, or having a door figuratively, “slammed in their face”. We are the stewards between work and the people we support and it is imperative that we look presentable when out in the community.

Another reason for dressing presentably is that we want to be positive role models for the people we serve. Because of the stigma related to disability we want the folks we work with to dress well so that they are seen in a positive light. A person wearing a mickey mouse shirt to a job interview will be less likely to land the position than a person who arrives wearing business or business casual clothing. It is part of our job to help the people we support recognize the difference.

If we take the time to put our best face forward when arriving at work, those we serve will be more likely to understand the importance of it. If we want to show people with disabilities in a positive light, it is necessary that we take care of ourselves first.