Did you know that only 36 percent of Americans with disabilities between the ages of 18-64 have a job? In contrast, 77 percent of individuals without disabilities in the same age range are employed. That’s a 41 percent difference!
Needless to say, we have a long way to go to help individuals with disabilities not only enter the workforce, but thrive alongside their peers.
The good news is that many organizations are working to do just that and are making a significant impact in the disability community. In fact, a recent article sheds light on how various states are helping people with disabilities break into government jobs. For instance, as the article notes, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed an executive order this past March to create new internships and short-term employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
Given that many of our products are made by individuals with disabilities, Aunt Laurie’s is a staunch advocate for disability employment and has seen the difference it can make in the lives of individuals and their families. In fact, we recently received a note from Matt Resnick, founder of SMILE Biscotti (one of our many partners), saying: “Your order helps me and my co-workers with autism to live independently.”
For those who don’t know, Arizona-based SMILE Biscotti is a particularly successful organization, having been featured on PBS NewsHour and various local outlets for the employment opportunity they provide for individuals with autism. Matt founded the bakery business in 2013, naming it SMILE, which stands for: “Supporting My Independent Living Enterprise.” To date, Matt and his coworkers, all of whom have autism, have sold over 200,000 of their delicious biscotti…talk about success!
But SMILE Biscotti is just one such example. The 15+ organizations we partner with all support individuals with disabilities, who make the many that go into our hand woven gift baskets.
Much like with anything else in life, bringing about change – in this case, advancing disability employment – often begins with a small step. We each can make a difference in our own way, whether directly or indirectly, through simply supporting, encouraging or spreading awareness.
I’m so grateful to be able to contribute in my own small corner of the world to advancing a cause that I’m so passionate about. It’s my hope that in the years ahead we’ll see the employment of individuals with disabilities on the upswing.