Daily Life

We need to employ more disabled people

Every now and then I come across an article that talks about unemployment among the disabled adults. And I see an alarming statistic – 90% are unemployed. The articles will cite the barriers to employing disabled people and why that number is as high as it is.

While it’s disheartening news, I also see encouraging news that people are creating businesses to employ those in the disability community. And I also see other news where people are realizing this community has a lot to offer. Like for instance, did you know that the Israeli Defense Forces has an autism unit? Here are some articles about it:

Autistic Soldiers in Israeli Defense Forces

The Israeli Army Unit That Recruits Teens With Autism

I we’re waking up to the realization that there’s an untapped pool of talent here. People in my area are catching on, and I’m seeing businesses spring up. We have Cameron’s Chocolates which has been around for a number of years. Then last year Jake’s Ice Cream opened up in Falls Church. It was started by Jake’s aunt, and next year she plans to open a popcorn place nearby!

In addition to food businesses, we also have a farm in our area that employs disabled people. It’s called A Farm Less Ordinary and is located in Loudoun County.

I just remembered another business. In the Service Source building, they have a cafe on the ground floor called Blossom Daily Cafe and Gift Shop. I happen to spot it when I was in the building, I think their logo and tag line is charming. Unfortunately, it was closed when I was there, but from the window I could see they were selling handmade greeting cards and baked goodies.

Know of any others? Chime in below. I’ll create a page.

I have dreams of one day starting a business that can employ my autistic son Adam and his friends. I go back and forth with what that could be. He loves pizza, so I thought it could be fun to start a pizza truck. or a pizza bus since he loves school buses. He also loves to do laundry, so I thought a Laundromat could also be a useful business in the community. He still has six years before he becomes an adult and all the services dry up. It may seem far away, but I know it will sneak on me quickly. I need to start planning and fundraising. Or win the lottery 🙂

Here’s another way to support employing disabled people. We are always buying gifts for others. Why not buy from businesses that support the disability community? That’s exactly what I do during the holidays. I buy baked items from Cameron’s chocolates, then this year I also ordered from Popcorn For The People. While they aren’t local, I still wanted to support them. If I remember correctly, they are in New Jersey. I ended up creating a gift basket, and I gave it to the people who volunteer for the special needs ministry in my church.

Gift basket
Gift basket with items from Popcorn For The People and Cameron’s Chocolates

One more thought. We all like to feel useful and have a sense of purpose. That’s why we have careers and specialties. Can you imagine what life would be without that? I think it would feel isolating, among other things. When you hire that disabled person or buy something to support that business that employs autistic people, you’re sending the message that you value what they do. And you value them as human beings. You recognize that they have a lot to contribute to this world, despite the challenges they face in life. So, the next time you buy a gift, support these businesses.