October is “National Disability Awareness Month” and it officially began in 1945 as a celebration established by Congress called “National employ the physically disabled handicapped week.” This was later dropped to incorporate all individuals with disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to “National Disability Employment Awareness Month.”
For those of us in the field and many others, the question, begs to be asked, why do we have to have to have a month to make people aware of individuals with disabilities? The reason is simple, even today many people are not aware of the many contributions that people with disabilities make in our society, particularly the workplace. “National Disability Employment Week” is an opportunity to let people know that individuals with disabilities when given the chance to work represent an incredible pool of talent and an amazing resource.
This month is to help build a recognition that people with disabilities are not only “equal to the task”, but help build workplace diversity, create an inclusive community and contribute to a strong economy through their employment, as tax productive citizens as opposed to tax consumptive citizens.
For over thirty years Gateway Industries has been playing a significant role in the tri-county area working to get disabled individuals back into the competitive workforce as well as, creating jobs for them that allow them to earn a paycheck and regain their self-esteem and begin putting money back into their communities.
This past year alone the individuals employed by the Gateway program were paid $420,186.35 in wages, much of which went back into local businesses and into the hands of local merchants in our community. Also, these wages helped contribute to Social Security, unemployment and other public entitlement funds. Although many people believe that all individuals with disabilities live off public funds, less than twenty-five percent of the individuals who work for Gateway receive any public monies at all.
Gateway employees are engaged in a variety of jobs that require multiple skills. Gateway employees do assembly work for a local window company, warehousing, manufacturing heavy duty commercial vinyl kitchen aprons, impermeable laboratory aprons, lawn maintenance for State and Federal properties, twenty-four hour, seven day a week maintenance of the I-64 visitors center, packaging of disposable cutlery kits, stainless steel framed mirrors and heavy duty plastic vinyl drop cloths. Many of the Products that we manufacture are purchased and used by the federal government and are currently in use in combat areas throughout the world.
Gateway employees just sort of fit in to the community as they should, and who would suspect that all this work and involvement with such major projects is all happening at 299 East Edgar Ave. right here in downtown Ronceverte. One last thing that needs to be made clear, and that is that Gateway and many other programs like ours are NOT publicly funded, like our clients we must earn our own money. We support ourselves by the contracts that we are able to secure. It is because of the quality and dedication of our workforce that we continue to secure the contracts that help to keep us going and the generosity of some kind and generous benefactors. So please take a minute a join us in celebrating the National Disability Employment Month Awareness Month and Gateway Industries Inc.
For more Information about Gateway Industries Inc. contact us at 304-645-3165 or Web page: