The end of summer is always marked by Labor Day—when everyone is ready for one last hoorah before fall. In all of the celebrations, we sometimes forget the reason for the holiday. Labor Day is a celebration of workers throughout our nation, and the strength they add to our country because of their toil.
I have spent my career working for a goal that energizes my soul and makes a difference in the lives of people with I/DD. I am proud to be part of the social and economic fabric that contributes to the well-being of my community, helping to make the world more inclusive for everyone. It feels great to have purpose each day, and my work has given extra meaning to my professional life. I am grateful for this work.
But not everyone has the same opportunity and access to employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fewer than 18% of individuals with a disability are employed in this country. In our field, we know that individuals with I/DD often have difficulty finding employment. They are not included in what is a very important part of the human experience – having work that makes them proud and gives them purpose to help make their communities better. They want to be full tax-paying citizens who do an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. Through our advocacy and with the support of other local groups like WISE, ENSO, Goodwill, Community Employment Alliance, At Work (and many others!), we have made great strides in improving this situation in our region. It will remain important that we advocate for more work opportunities for individuals with I/DD who want to, and are fully capable of enriching our community through their work.
As you enjoy this last weekend of BBQs and getaways, remember to celebrate ALL of the people who contribute to a vibrant and successful economy in Seattle, and I challenge you to commit to doing something that will also help others who want to be part of the workforce, too.