The Role of Hope in Employment for People with Disabilities

1920, 1935, 1956, 1968, 1973, 1990 and 2008. What do all of these years have in common? In each of these years, a key piece of legislation brought hope to millions of Americans diagnosed with disabilities. Hope is essential, for, as Helen Keller once said, “nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” Thanks to The Rehabilitation Act (1973) and The American’s with Disabilities Act (1990) hope is attained through various resources and services that were not previously available. One resource, specifically focused on employment, is the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR). OVR is a government agency whose sole purpose is to help people with disabilities find and maintain employment. Unfortunately, Kentucky state funding for OVR has decreased by over 15% in the past ten years. This means approximately 1,700 Kentuckians were on a waiting list for services last year. How sustainable is hope when one is told he or she has to wait to start planning their future career?

Fortunately, other resources, other supports, and other organizations are available to help. Through a variety of various funding sources, individuals can access services more readily than ever before; services such as assessment to identify appropriate careers, goal setting, career planning, resume development, application assistance, interview preparation, networking strategy, just to name a few. Jewish Family & Career Services (JFCS) can provide support in all of these areas and more. Thanks to a grant from the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies, we have funding to offset the cost of services for teens and adults with disabilities. The wait is over! Given the impact that employment has on a person’s sense of identity, JFCS is proud to be able to support individuals and families facing disabilities.

Andrea Brown, MRC, CRC is a member of the Career & Workforce Development division of JFCS. Her education and experience have focused mainly on supporting individuals with disabilities in identifying and achieving appropriate vocational goals. Through assessment, resume preparation, interview coaching, and workshop facilitation Andrea has assisted individuals to attain their dreams. The two underlying tenets that guide her work are the belief that all people have the right to work if they want to and that work should be interesting, inspiring and enjoyable.

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