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Goodwill Works to Support Employment of People with Disabilities
10/10/2013 9:51:13 PM

As America continues to pull itself out of the recession, the unemployment rate among adults with disabilities remains at 14.1 percent - nearly twice as high as the unemployment rate of people without disabilities, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy. During October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Palmetto Goodwill encourages employers in both the private and public sectors to strengthen their workforces by hiring qualified people with disabilities.

"At Palmetto Goodwill, we know firsthand the benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workforce and believe that all people, including those with disabilities, need to be integrated into the workforce to make our economy stronger," said Robert Smith, President and CEO of Palmetto Goodwill

For more than 110 years, Goodwill agencies have trained and hired people with disabilities to work in Goodwill stores, donation centers and career centers as well as in emerging fields outside of Goodwill including healthcare, green industries and financial services. Goodwill depends on their expertise and this diverse workforce has helped Palmetto Goodwill grow into a leading social enterprise that served more than 37,500 people in 2012, of which over 3,300 were individuals with disabilities.

People with disabilities are a dependable and valuable workforce who have higher rates of employee retention, which reduces hiring and training costs. Employers can leverage tax benefits from hiring people with disabilities and attract a broader customer base for their goods and services. At the same time, employers can demonstrate their commitment to corporate social responsibility by hiring people with disabilities, which include youth, older workers and military veterans.

"More than 450 people with disabilities are employed at Palmetto Goodwill. They make extraordinary contributions to our workplace every day," said Smith. "Hiring Americans with disabilities makes sense for employers and employees alike."

Goodwill provides job training, career and community based services to people with disabilities, those who need education or work experience and others facing challenges to finding employment. Goodwill has helped people with disabilities earn jobs, grow their careers and live independent lives. Here is just one person who is successful in his career through the help of Goodwill.

Fredrick Gaillard's life began upside down. Before he was born, doctors realized he was breech and would need to be delivered by a complicated and dangerous emergency caesarian section. As a result, he underwent multiple eye surgeries as a child, and a learning disability landed him in special education classes in school. However, Fredrick was determined not to let the obstacles in his life knock him off his feet. He worked hard to obtain his driver's license and find work. Fredrick eventually got a job stocking shelves at the Charleston Air Force Base commissary through a Goodwill AbilityOne contract. Though the job wasn't easy at first, Fredrick never gave up and eventually increased his efficiency from 45 percent to 95 percent. Fredrick now, for the first time ever, lives in an apartment on his own and has plans to get his GED.

"Fredrick is only one of the many capable employees with disabilities. However, this population has nearly double the unemployment rate of the general population," said Smith "People with disabilities deserve the opportunity to grow their careers and make positive contributions to our economy."

Held each October, the U.S. Department of Labor commemorates National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) to raise awareness about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. Goodwill stands with the U.S. Department of Labor and encourages companies and organizations to build more inclusive business cultures that value diversity and encourage leaders to recruit, hire, retain and advance qualified individuals with disabilities, which in the end will benefit everyone.

To learn more about Goodwill's career training and employment programs, visit or call (843) 566-0072.

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