With Independence Day weekend upon us, we felt it would be a great time to share this truly inspiring story of Independence in our community. After all, Jawonio is a Native American word that means “Independence” and it’s a cornerstone of our mission, which is to advance the independence, wellbeing and equality of people with disabilities and special needs.
Independence means something different to all of us, but if you ask many of the adults in our community, they will tell you that Independence is the right to the same opportunities afforded anyone else. That includes the opportunity to work, earn a living, and support yourself. As you read this story, please consider if there is more you can do to help people with disabilities achieve greater independence. Much is being done in New York right now to create jobs for people with disabilities, and if you are a business owner, there is plenty of incentive to hire people with disabilities. Share with your employer and legislators that an inclusive workforce is good for business, and good for society! Check out the resources at the bottom for more information on how you can get involved in providing meaningful employment for people with special needs.
Ed Pederson has been a part of Jawonio for nearly 15 years. He was referred to Jawonio after a period of rehabilitation after suffering a serious head injury at work. Ed began working at the Jawonio Work Center in Rockland, which for over 40 years had provided services such as packaging, product assembly, mailing/sorting and more, for businesses in the tri-state area. In addition to receiving a paycheck, Ed found that steady work in a safe and friendly environment had a big impact on his health and self-esteem.
I was not able to work for many years. Jawonio gave me a chance to get back on my feet again when I didn’t feel good enough. Being at the Jawonio Work Center it built me back up. I loved my work there, it was ‘piece’ work at first, but I liked the repetition. I liked the work. The stronger I got, the better at it I got.
Ed was one of the Work Centers best employees and loved the environment on the Work Center floor.
Four years ago, Jawonio began the process of phasing out its Work Centers and Jawonio Employment Staff have been successful in transitioning and placing Work Center employees into new job opportunities, or day habilitation services. Last year, Ed began training as an employee in one of our Jawonio Businesses – eBizDocs Document Imaging.
Today, eBizDocs, in collaboration with Jawonio, provides document imaging solutions for companies, state agencies, local governments, and other organizations. Over 50% of the eBizDocs workforce has a self-disclosed disability of some type and the company provides tons of training, coaching and supports so that employees not only have the skills to thrive at work but also in daily life.
I like working together with everyone, and I feel this is a real job now and I really enjoy coming to work.
Jawonio Employment Counselor, Julio Vargas, says this of Ed: “It is gratifying to see that Ed has achieved his goal in going from a supervised work setting to an independent work setting which is exactly what Jawonio is all about.”
And Victor Figurelli, Production Manager, eBizDocs/Jawonio Document Imaging adds, “I trust Ed to perform well with every document he is working on. He is meticulous in his work, and has an incredible attention to detail. His work ethic is outstanding.”
Ed’s birthday is July 4th. It seems the perfect date for a man who truly epitomizes the journey towards independence.
I always try to do the best I can do, and what I see here at Jawonio is that everyone else is doing their best too.
Happy Birthday Ed and Happy Independence Day to all!
Inspired by Ed’s story? Check out these resources to do more:
Hiring People with Disabilities: http://www.sba.gov/content/hiring-people-with-disabilities
Bottom Line Benefits for Business: http://www.jawonio.org/for-businesses/hire-people-with-disabilities/
Testimonials from Business Owners: http://www.jawonio.org/for-businesses/testimonials/
eBizDocs Works Philosophy: http://ebizdocs.com/diversity-abilities-work-ebizdocs/