In recognition of October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Ridgecrest City Council awarded a proclamation to Desert Area Resources and Training for its Ability One Program. Ability One allows persons who are blind or severely disabled to work in private and public employment settings, where they can receive good wages and benefits, gain greater independence and quality of life, and help support their families.
Nationwide, Ability One employs 40,000 blind or disabled people. DART has 74 clients working in the local Ability One program.
Traditionally, people with disabilities face a 60 percent unemployment rate, forcing them to rely heavily on social support services. Engaging them in the workforce not only relieves stress on support services, but allows them to enjoy participation in the community, develop skills for long-term employment, build self-esteem, and lead more productive and meaningful lives.
With supervision, DART clients are able to learn many tasks. They successfully stock shelves at the base commissary, clean and maintain highway rest areas, work in lawn and landscape maintenance, shred documents, and man the DART thrift store. DART staff members are constantly on the lookout for other repetitive jobs that their clients might learn to do.
“Our clients are happy to be working,” said DART CEO Jinny DeAngelis. “Typically, they have a much better attendance record and a better attitude on the job than many other employees. We are very proud of our clients and all that they have achieved.”