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Increasing Access and Opportunity: October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

By Rae van Seenus on Oct 01, 2020 at 08:51 AM in UCP WORK, Inc. Blog

Congress designates each October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and 2020 marks not only the 75th observance of NDEAM, but also the 30th anniversary of the ADA

UCP WORK, Inc. encourages employers and the community to recognize the value and talent that people with disabilities add to America's workplaces and economy, and for NDEAM, we are sharing highlights of individuals in our Employment Services Programs.  You’ll learn all about what these employees do on the job and about their unique skillset.  Also, if you are a local business owner, discover the Top 10 benefits of hiring people with disabilities and how UCP WORK, Inc. can help you build an inclusive workforce. 

At work, it’s what people can do that matters.


Kelly Kilroy is served in UCP WORK, Inc’s South County Applied Abilities, Supported Living, and Group Supported Employment program (GSE).  Through GSE, Kelly has worked for over one year at the Santa Maria CHP, every Wednesday for four hours, doing landscaping, planting perennials and general maintenance in the outside common areas.  He tells us, “Landscaping is my dream job.  I like to make the place look good.” 

Kelly Kilroy is in a grey shirt and shorts and red cap and holding a rake and wearing work gloves.

Kelly chooses to work to pay for his rent and groceries and believes it’s important to get out of the house and say active.  “The CHP likes the work we do, plus it feels good to help others,” Kelly shares.

In Kelly’s spare time, he likes to cook, loves animals, write poetry and enjoys going to the beach.  He also volunteers at an Italian restaurant in Santa Maria, helping customers and cleaning the dining room.


“I like to work to keep myself busy and motivated.” – Kelly Kilroy


Jesse Rector also works at the Santa Maria CHP, part of a work contract with UCP WORK, Inc’s Group Supported Employment program.  Three days a week, he maintains janitorial services and removes garbage for the facility.  “CHP is like family to me,” Jesse says, “It’s a nice place to work because everyone’s so friendly.”

Jesse Rector is wearing a tan tshirt and grey sweats and blue work gloves holding a mop

Jesse has a long resume of work experience combined with volunteering in the community -- from janitorial work at the Vandenberg Airforce Base, dishwashing at Breakers restaurant, and offering his time at the local Food Bank and Lompoc's hospital rehab center.  “I like helping people that are less fortunate,” Jesse shares.  He looks forward to the annual CHP Toy Drive each December and said that if he won the lottery, he would buy toys to give to children in need.


In Jesse’s spare time, he likes to exercise and take arts and crafts, beading, and life-skills classes at UCP WORK, Inc’s Applied Abilities day-program. 

Jesse Rector is wearing a tan tshirt and grey sweats and blue work gloves holding a full trash bag, there is a CHP car in the background

“I am good working with my hands.  Manufacturing for commercial kitchen appliances is my dream job!” – Jesse Rector


On the Job with Cullen Dorais: National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Cullen Dorais is currently employed as the Warehouse Manager at Pacific Resources International (PRI), a disability-inclusive business and leading importer of fine foods and health care products, based out of Carpinteria, California. He obtained the job through the support of UCP WORK, Inc. Employment Services in June of 2015, and is responsible for managing stock levels, receiving incoming pallets, and building the outgoing pallets.  “I ensure the smooth running of the warehouse side of my company’s operations,” Cullen stated.

When asked what has been the most helpful for Cullen in maintaining his job at PRI, he explained, “Having a Job Coach has been a great relay when communicating issues between myself and my supervisors, and a helpful means for my supervisors to voice any concerns about my performance so we can deal with them proactively.”  As part of UCP WORK, Inc.’s Employment Services, participants are provided a trained Job Coach, by choice, to support the hired individual on the job, develop and maintain work skills, and ensure successful involvement in competitive employment.  

On the Job with Cullen Dorais: National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Additionally, Cullen shared that he loves working with a small company, because the relationship with his bosses is much more personal.  He described that at other jobs, where he’s worked for large corporations, he felt disconnected from the chain of command. 

On the Job with Cullen Dorais: National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Keeping with the theme of NDEAM, we asked Cullen what message he would tell potential employers to make them aware of hiring individuals with disabilities. 

“People with disabilities want nothing more than to have the chance to contribute to society. You will not find a more hard working person who wants to be there and be motivated!” -- Cullen Dorais

NDEAM Resources:

The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) supports several initiatives that help employers interested in hiring individuals with disabilities. 


ODEP also offers several fact sheets and other resources to educate employers about effective recruitment and hiring strategies, as well as laws such as Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects the employment rights of people with disabilities


The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) is a free resource that helps employers tap the benefits of disability diversity by educating public- and private-sector organizations on ways to build inclusive workplace cultures.


JAN provides free consulting services for all employers, regardless of the size of an employer’s workforce. Services include one-on-one consultation about all aspects of job accommodations, including the accommodation process, accommodation ideas, product vendors, referral to other resources, and ADA compliance assistance

Disability Employment Statistics