National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Village Northwest Unlimited announced its participation in National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an annual awareness campaign that takes place each October. The purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. This year's theme is "My disability is one part of who I am."

The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month traces back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

"This year's theme encapsulates the important message that people with disabilities are just that — people," said Jennifer Sheehy, acting assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy. "And like all people, we are the sum of many parts, including our work experiences. Disability is an important perspective we bring to the table; but, of course, it's not the only one."

Northwest Enterprises and Futures, vocational divisions of Village Northwest Unlimited, provide a supportive environment in which to teach vocational skills for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The Village provides a variety of work options and functional training opportunities to assist individuals in achieving maximum employment. The Village has partnerships with over 40 local employers for either supported community employment, competitive employment, or work center contracts. With over 40 individuals working in direct hire placements and over 45 individuals working in supported employment, the Village is meeting its goal of providing the dignity of meaningful work for those who desire it.

"The Village is proud to be a part of this year's National Disability Employment Awareness Month," said Barry Whitsell, CEO, Village Northwest Unlimited. "We want to spread the important message that we value the diverse perspectives, including those of individuals with disabilities. We work with local employers to ensure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are given every opportunity for success through competitive, integrated employment opportunities."

Employers and employees in all industries can learn more about how to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month and ways they can promote its messages — during October and throughout the year — by visiting Employers interested in partnering with Village Northwest Unlimited to provide work opportunities for individuals with disabilities are encouraged to contact Leah Timmer, Community Employment Specialist, Village Northwest Unlimited at 712-324-2521 x4110.

Village Northwest Unlimited is nationally recognized as one of the premier providers of services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, autism spectrum disorder and traumatic brain injuries. The Village builds successful lives for 180 individuals by providing opportunities and choices in residential, vocational and social programs while fulfilling its mission of providing Purpose, Privacy and Dignity.