STREETSBORO, Ohio — October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. This year's theme is increasing access and opportunity, which advocates say will also help local businesses fill hiring needs and rebound from the coronavirus pandemic.
"I make mower parts, but today I'm inking," said Adam Gilmer.
Gilmer loves the job he landed just a few months ago at Delta Systems in Streetsboro. He says the manufacturer builds him up and appreciates all the parts that make him special.
"I have a disability," he said. "So, they're really good at working with people with a disability."
Gilmer says he's honest with his supervisors and coworkers about his strengths and weaknesses, like sometimes getting distracted.
"Like I said, they're really good at understanding, 'hey, he's got this going on all we gotta do is come over and be like you're kind of veering off course, time to get back on task,'" he said.
Hiring during the pandemic has been competitive for manufacturers, and Delta Systems was thrilled with Gilmer's performance.
He says he's a man on a mission.
"Right now, I live with my parents," he said. "My big goal is to get out and be more independent. So, it's just great to know I have a solid job and work with people who want to help me."
"Employment is such a fulfilling part of our lives," said Laura Walker, director of employment services at Hattie Larlham; a nonprofit that helps bridge the gap for employers looking to hire people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
"People with disabilities have a lot to offer employers," said Walker. "When you embed them into your workforce culture, usually you see an increase in satisfaction and you see retention rates go up."
Gilmer was a client. Walker says on average they help place about 250 people a year with 60 businesses.
Hattie Larlham said they work to help mostly with interview skills and confidence.
"Because they need to believe that they can do it," she said. "Once they believe that, then they're going to nail that interview and do a wonderful job in the employment."
Walker encourages more businesses to partner with Hattie Larlham, like Delta Systems did, and build up their workforce... and people.
"Even though we have a disability, don't overlook that we can do everything everyone else can do," said Gilmer.
Hattie Larlham is hiring. The organization offers many different services to adults and children with disabilities. Find more info here.
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