Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Holiday Greeting!

As we dash through the holiday season and approach the end of another calendar year, I’ve been spending time reflecting about the critical contributions of many people who go that extra mile to make integrated employment in the workforce a real possibility for people with significant disabilities.
  • To business leaders who took a chance and made a good business decision to customize jobs for applicants with significant disabilities,
  • To individuals with significant disabilities who resisted the status quo and entrusted their career development dreams to progressive programs that specialize in integrated employment practices,
  • To determined parents and family members who stood in unwavering support of their loved ones’ dreams to work in regular jobs in the community labor force;

  • To secondary and post-secondary educators who helped to develop and nurture the knowledge, skills, and abilities of youth and young adults with significant disabilities so they could enroll in higher education programs or transition directly into integrated jobs in the workforce;

  • To job placement and business marketing professionals who worked tirelessly to educate business leaders about the possibilities and business benefits in customizing jobs and hiring people with significant disabilities;
  • To employment consultants who worked creatively with employers to build the internal supports people needed to connect with their peers and experience job success in the workforce;
  • To co-workers who welcomed their peers with disabilities in the workforce with optimism, encouragement, and helpful support;
  • To legislators and policy makers who wrote and implemented new laws and policies thereby encouraging and promoting self-determination, individual choice, competitive employment, and integrated community living outcomes;
  • To vocational rehabilitation counselors and county case managers who encouraged and authorized plans supporting the job placement of youth and adults with disabilities into integrated community employment;
  • To agency executives and program managers who established a clear vision, mobilized their organizational resources, and offered leadership to expand job placement outcomes in the workforce;
  • To boards of directors, volunteers, AmeriCorps members, and community advisors who offered their gifts of time and expertise to make employment in the community a reality for people with disabilities and other barriers;
  • To State agency directors and disability service specialists, federal agency representatives, and county agency managers and staff who offered funding assistance and administrative guidance to enhance the delivery of supported and customized employment services;
  • To private and corporate foundations and individual donors who dedicated valuable resources to increase or enhance the delivery of supported and customized employment;
  • To administrative professionals who supported customized employment activities from behind the scenes through their individual expertise as accountants, public relations and communications professionals, fund raising and development managers, clerical and office staff, bus drivers, human resources professionals, information technology experts, and administrative consultants;
  • To residential, housing, and independent living providers who encouraged and supported the individualized employment of people with disabilities by altering their schedules and customizing their services;
  • To national training consultants who pushed and encouraged us to consider emerging employment trends and practices to obtain higher levels of performance;
  • To my colleagues at Minnesota APSE-The Employment Network who led with relentless enthusiasm and systems advocacy to promote high quality employment in the workforce for traditionally underrepresented people...
To all of you, I would like to say–Thanks! You were the lights that brightened my tree in 2006.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

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