JEVS hireAbility hosted the 76th Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM) Celebration in partnership with New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services with a virtual event, awards presentation, and job fair, that reached over 100 Zoom attendees.
With a welcome from Karen Carroll, the Director of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services in New Jersey, attendees also heard from Robert Asaro-Angelo, the Commissioner for the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, and Braheim Knight, Diversity and Inclusion Officer for the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Knight stresses the importance of hiring individuals with disabilities, “Employers who hire individuals with disabilities are diversifying their workforce and promoting inclusion. Employment equality is obtained through embracing diversity and inclusionary social practices which recognize and value every worker in American society’s contribution to the labor market”.
JEVS hireAbility Executive Director, Julia Blackwell says this of the DEAM celebration: “October gives us the opportunity to showcase the success of our clients and their meaningful contributions to the workplace and the economy. This year, the theme America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion highlights the importance of advocating to ensure people with disabilities have full access and inclusion to employment during the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. October also reminds of the hard work that remains to continue advocating for policy changes that advance the diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility of job seekers and employees with disabilities. Among these opportunities is eliminating the Fair Labor Standards Act’s discriminatory provisions that allow employers to pay workers with disabilities less than minimum wage. I am incredibly proud of our clients and staff who have persevered through a very challenging year, and look forward to sharing their continued success.”
The event honored clients of the New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) and Community Employment Providers including JEVS hireAbility. Jeffery Hernandez, Easter Seals; Scott (Scotty) Soloman, Waters and Sims; Joseph Lombardo, MOCEANS; and Ashton Frohner, JEVS hireAbility, were recognized.
Next, attorney and former NJ DVRS client, special guest, Darlene Hemerka, Esq. shares her employment journey as a person with a disability and credits DVRS for their support throughout college and law school. Reflecting on the messaging printed on her shirt that says, If you embrace diversity but ignore disability, you’re doing it wrong, Darlene says, “This saying is a reminder to employers that disability is a form of diversity. It must be part of any diversity, equity, or inclusion discussion or initiative”.
Closing the event, JEVS CEO Jay Spector, thanks the New Jersey DVRS for its longstanding partnership with JEVS hireAbility, and who reaffirmed JEVS’ commitment to connecting people with disabilities to opportunities.
The hireAbility team would like to extend a very special thank you to our contract manager, John Tkacz, who always offers guidance and support and was critical to putting together the DEAM celebration.
Learn more about Ashton and his success through JEVS hireAbility and enjoy the entire DEAM event video below.