NEW CASTLE — Easterseals Delaware & Maryland’s Eastern Shore is celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month with people like Asa Mebine, of Dover, who are helping to transform the landscape of the workforce and break the stereotypes in the community. Asa, who has a hearing impairment is employed at Royal Farms in Hartly where he is earning competitive wages thanks to the Easterseals Supported Employment program.
“Easterseals was the best opportunity for Asa. Overall, they offer the best programs. Plus, Easterseals has services for a lifetime throughout the state and that makes a big difference,” Asa’s father, Robert Mebine, said. “Asa is very social and working at Royal Farms allows him to meet a lot of people. Since he started working Asa is more self-confident and more his own person.”
Held annually, National Disability Employment Awareness Month is observed to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the contributions of American workers with disabilities. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities reached a seven-year high in 2020, at 12.6%. Many people with disabilities want to work but have not been able to secure jobs because of accessibility and attitudinal barriers. As a result, labor force participation for individuals with disabilities is less than one third of general labor force participation.
“Easterseals programs are so important to our community because otherwise people with disabilities would get lost,” Mr. Mebine said. “I prefer Asa has his own life which he is able to do thanks to Supported Employment rather than him staying home all the time.”
Easterseals can help individuals determine the best path forward in reaching their employment goals in a job they love. Once individuals are trained in their position, they work independently with the support of co-workers. Easterseals Employment Specialists provide ongoing individualized training and coaching to ensure long-term success on the job.
“I like working at the deli at Royal Farms,” Asa says. “I am saving all my money so someday I can be rich!”
Currently, Easterseals works with more than 60 businesses statewide supporting more than 80 individuals with disabilities in competitive employment. To learn more about how Easterseals can help companies diversify their workforce by hiring people with disabilities and improve the productivity of their workplace, call Jane Schuler at 324-4444.