In a community like Rockland County we are very fortunate to have many strong organizations that support people with disabilities. These organizations embrace this diverse population with services and opportunities and as often said about the general economy a “rising tide lifts all boats”. We firmly believe this and want to acknowledge organizations like ACCES-VR, BRiDGES, ARC of Rockland, Jawonio and Camp Venture as some of the significant players who as part of their mission, work with the disability community in workforce development and self-employment. How they do it and in what capacity vary from organization to organization but as a general statement fall into two categories; Workforce development and Entrepreneurship. What we would like to discuss below is what these areas are and our thoughts on how we believe these employment strategies must be pushed ahead to better serve everyone in our community.
Workforce development which we define as an economic development approach based on focusing on people is very relative for those in the disability community. Not all “businesses” are profit driven and many organizations need the expertise of people who have navigated hurdles both physical and emotional as well as the academic excellence that is very prevalent in those who have disabilities. What we must do in order to capture this workforce is to look beyond what is defined as a disability and creates work environments that will allow people who may need some physical assistance the workstations, bathrooms, parking requirements and technology to be able to be productive employees. In our opinion it is not only the responsibility of the organizations mentioned above to advocate for people with disabilities to have a space and similar opportunity as the able bodied but each of us collectively must demand that equal opportunity for all people is the mantra of the day.
Entrepreneurship, or as we define it, is the activity of setting up a business by taking on financial risks in the hope of profit. We at Goldkap Consulting Group take great pride as being one of only a few organizations we know that works directly with people with disabilities to help in creating new businesses. If you have a passion to start your own business and have a skill set we can assist with writing a business plan and getting funding. We work with organizations who have funding programs and often times can get the seed money needed to get people with disabilities the opportunity to work on a self-employment track. This is often critical as many people with disabilities cannot work “standard business” hours and for many reasons are better suited for home based businesses.
In an effort to further highlight entrepreneurship in the disability community, there will be what we believe is the first Expo of its type in Rockland County, September 26th at the RCC Haverstraw Extension designed specifically to showcase the products and services available from entrepreneurs who have achieved success within this diverse community. We are hopeful that anyone who has a disability and owns a business will join us for what we anticipate to be an exciting and informative event.
Whether an entrepreneur or someone who wants to work within an organization, we believe that people with disabilities no longer should be treated as outsiders and must be integrated within our workforce as equals. At Goldkap Consulting Group we want to advocate and be a catalyst for positive change in this area as this “rising tide” to lift all boats is way overdue.
By Walter Goldman, Goldkap Consulting Group