I grew up in small town Iowa. In my little town of 8000, there is a service provider for individuals with disabilities. Growing up, I didn't know any different than to think that everyone knew as many people with disabilities as I did. I thought every community was like mine. I realize now how fortunate I was to learn about people with disabilities from such a young age. I didn't know it then, but this would inspire a life-long mission of advocacy and education.
For the last decade, I have done the work - from being a personal care attendant, to managing group homes, to recruiting nurses, to running a non-profit focused on the differently-abled population, to providing employment services. I have made so many friends in the process and the largest issue we are seeing today is these dear friends of mine have a barrier to accessing gainful, meaningful employment.
In 2019, it is still legal in the United States to pay people with disabilities below minimum wage for the same exact job as their able-bodied counterparts. That feels like a sucker punch to the stomach. Women with disabilities are the most marginalized minority in nearly every area that we are able to measure. There has to be a change.
I decided to take the issue into my own hands, creating GEM (Gainful Employment with Meaning). I have hired an individual with disabilities to work in my business and I am working on programming and education to help other small businesses do the same. By hiring Joy by Jo, you are hiring a person with a disability and providing income for them and, in turn, helping other companies to do the same!
The disability community is the only minority you or I or a loved one could join at a moment's notice. Supporting initiatives that are putting in the work to build bridges over barriers for people with disabilities is supporting the entire human race.
Want to join me? Let's chat - shoot me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.