October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), and 2020 marks two big anniversaries: 30 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and 75 years of NDEAM itself. Throughout this month, we have been sharing stories and information about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Wildwood's Employment Team is a major component in connecting workers with disabilities with Capital-area businesses. To help these businesses find the "right talent right now," the team has worked hard to help shift perspectives, increasing understanding and awareness while simultaneously breaking down barriers. A video [linked here] was created to enhance community outreach and show businesses what it means to hire someone with a disability and the benefits that come from having an equal and equitable workforce. The video reached over 6,000 independent viewers, was shared twice nationally as well as through statewide and local business groups, and reached hundreds of nonprofit leaders, chambers of commerce, human resource associations, TV programs, and published to the Times Union newspaper.

An interview recently shared by CBS News featured adults on the autism spectrum and their perspectives on joining the workforce; it was noted that their experience and unique skills often play a major role in the day-to-day operations of a business. A statistic within the article states: "We found about 30 large companies actively seeking employees on the autism spectrum, including Microsoft, JP Morgan and Ford, but there are still so many people with autism who are unemployed, and the numbers are growing. In the next decade, researchers at Drexel University estimate as many as 1.1 million Americans with autism will turn 18." Wildwood's Employment Team will continue to tackle these rates at a direct, local level.

For years, Capital Region business representatives have been joining Wildwood's Work Readiness Program to share insight on career paths, advice for joining and succeeding in the workforce, and more. It is because of these conversations that nearly 20 future jobseekers have a better understanding of not only how many businesses work, but the importance of doing what you love and embracing your individual skills and strengths. The conversations have continued to occur throughout the pandemic in a virtual setting, and will transition back to in-person on-site visits once it is safe to do so. 

Wildwood nominated two key partners in employment, Hannaford Supermarkets and Blaze Pizza, for the 2020 NDEAM Awards. Hosted by the Capital Region Employer Alliance (CREA) on Friday, October 23, the NDEAM Awards recognize businesses for their contributions to the disability community and the employment of people with disabilities. Seven businesses in total were recognized, with Hannaford Supermarkets winning a statewide award for their outstanding efforts in hiring and maintaining candidates with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Blaze Pizza won the small business award for their contributions and partnership with Wildwood in relation to on-the-job training and job seeker referral programs. The awards ceremony can be watched in its entirety through this link, and we want give a big "thank you" to all the businesses recognized!

As NDEAM nears an end, Wildwood would also like to thank Marshall & Sterling Insurance; Schenectady County Public Library; M&T Bank; Albany Institute of History & Art; SOAKS; CVS Pharmacy; The Homeless and Travelers Aid Society (HATAS); Ravena Public Library; Niskayuna Central School District; Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP; UHY Advisors NY; Union College; The Merriam Insurance Agency; Mahoney Performance Institute; the Capital Region Chamber; and many more area businesses for their partnership and insight.

If you are interested in learning more about how Wildwood works with local businesses and connects them with potential employees, listen to the Employment Rebranding Podcast:

To learn how you can be a partner to Wildwood or special virtual guest, visit:

What's it like working in employment services? Wildwood employees share their thoughts in this article. 

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