Supported Employment program through Barber National Institute a ‘win-win’

Local News

In spite of protections against disability discrimination, people with physical or mental impairment often face challenges when seeking a job. 

Those workers are being trained and getting jobs in a number of fields like hospitality, food, and customer service. 

Ikenna Davis is beating the odds.  For him, landing two janitorial jobs means a clean living. “Get a chance to work and stuff, because there is nothing out there on the street.”

Davis is one of more than 40 adults with disabilities who have secured jobs over the past year through the Barber National Institute’s ‘Supported Employment’ program. 

Mary Beth Graml, Owner of Grape Vine Laundry & Linens, tells us, “It’s been huge and it’s very gratifying–not only for them–but for me, as well; because they’re very interested in showing up to work on a daily basis and doing a good job.”

Graml says the program is a win-win.  “From my perspective, it’s a common problem for any small business these days–is finding good help.”

Since 1986, the ‘Supported Employment’ program has connected more than 700 adults with disabilities with jobs.

Maggie Dimitriadis, Director of Intellectual Disability Services for Adults at Barber National Institute, says, “We work with each person individually, one-on-one, to see what needs they have, support them in attaining a job, and then, teaching them, help coach them through learning the tasks until they can become independent.”

And, all of that job coaching is paying off; Ikenna telling us, “It feels good really”.

According to the Department of Labor, the September unemployment rate, nationally, for people with disabilities, was over 7%. That’s more than twice the rate for people without disabilities. 

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