October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy has announced this year’s theme: “A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?” The theme promotes the diverse workforce that includes workers with disabilities, who represent a highly skilled talent pool.

To help celebrate this year’s NDEAM, Gogebic Community Mental Health Authority’s Supported Employment (SE) Program would like to thank all the local employers and volunteer sites that work so closely with us and employ or assist our individuals with securing volunteer positions to be a valuable part of our community. The current placements are with:

H.O.P.E. Animal Shelter
Westgate Living Center
All Saints Lutheran Church
Gogebic CMH Authority
Bessemer Public Library
Ironwood St. Vincent DePaul
Sharon Lutheran Church
Highline Corporation
Range Community Bible Church
Michigan Works!
Giovanoni’s True Value Hardware
North Country Sun Paper
Randall’s Bakery
Gogebic County Transit
Western Upper Peninsula District Health Department

CMH’s Support Employment Program’s Employment Technicians, Ellen Talkowski and Jeff Richards, will be going to the local schools and presenting to the 4th, 5th and 6th grades to discuss disability awareness and proper etiquette.

The Supported Employment Program has been a crucial service to individuals with developmental disabilities and serious mental illness since 1992. CMH works closely with Michigan Rehabilitation Services who they have an interagency cash match agreement with. The program works closely with the local Rehabilitation Counselor, Mona Consolmagno, who has a local satellite office in Ironwood.

Many people with a serious mental illness or a developmental disability want to work. For many, work is an important aspect in recovery. Supported Employment is a well-defined approach to helping these individuals find and keep competitive employment. “Competitive Employment” means work (part-time or full-time) in the community that anyone can apply for and pays at least minimum wage. Employment Technicians assist with all the phases to assist a person to attain this goal. They provide job development, job coaching and follow along services. The job coaching affords employers to have assistance with training an individual who may have unique learning styles. Follow-along services enable that individuals receive new training, assist employers with problems that may arise and keep the person on as a valued employee.

When someone is not ready for employment or may just want to help out in the community, CMH assists with finding volunteer opportunities; this is a way to give individuals a sense of belonging to their community.

CMH also has an in-house program called the Mobile Work Crew. This is a valuable program to assist with those new to the workforce or for someone who may want to get back in the workforce but may be hesitant. Employment Technicians work closely with the individuals to prepare for community employment. The SE program also has contract sites that they provide janitorial services to.

Last but not least, to celebrate NDEAM Month, the Supported Employment Program will be hosting a Recognition Banquet for those individuals in the program as wells as employers and other community members that support CMH and the SE Program. For more information about how you and your organization may employ someone or for more information in general on the SE Program, please call Angela Pope at 906-229-6170. CMH has some valuable workers seeking employment who may have skills you are looking for!!


National Disability Employment Awareness