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Goodwill is helping people with disabilities get back to work, safely

Posted at 5:57 AM, Oct 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-21 08:49:30-04

MILWAUKEE — To The Rebound Milwaukee and getting back to work safely.

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development reports that as of September, the unemployment rate in Wisconsin stands at 5.4 percent. Advocates at Goodwill say that number doubles for people living with a disability.

On this National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we share Goodwill’s program helping the disabled get back to work.

Last year, we shared Demetrius Jackson’s journey to employment and feeling empowered. Thanks to Goodwill’s more than a decade-long program, the 25-year-old living with cerebral palsy was able to land a job at Speedway and feel part of the Oak Creek Community, saying, “My advice out there to people is just to be strong.”

His advice resonates with so many of us today. The Pandemic has not stopped workers at Goodwill from advocating for this vulnerable population.

“The pandemic has been tough. Not being able to see family all of that, my clients are feeling that as well and sometimes even on a higher level because that’s a big part of their mental health condition,” said Erika Eykmans, Goodwill.

Eykmans says after training, help with their resume and landing a job, Goodwill does not go away, “We’re there to provide the kind of ongoing support checking in with managers checking in on the job just to make sure that things are going well on both ends of things.”

Grebe’s Bakery in West Allis partnered with Goodwill’s program for the past three years. 15 people living with disabilities are employed.

“Before I knew it, you kinda wake up and look at yourself in the mirror one day and say ‘Wow, this has not only changed my company, but it's also changed me,’” said Colton Grebe, co-owner of the family-owned business established in 1937.

“It has made me be much more patient,” adds Grebe. Everyone there works hard. Many bakers start their day at 3 a.m. — and they are open seven days a week!

That is why Grebe shares his passion to show other local programs that Goodwill’s program works, adding “People that enjoy structure in the workforce, showing up on time all those things that today's workforce is lacking.”

The American Association of People with Disabilities supports Grebe’s view and found if more businesses hired those with disabilities, they would tap into a new talent pool of nearly 11 million people nationwide.

Here’s your Rebound Rundown:

  • Click here to learn more about Goodwill’s Individual Placement and Support Program

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