October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month in Sheldon, IA

Village Northwest Unlimited is pleased to announce its participation in National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an annual awareness campaign that takes place each October. The purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is to educate people and businesses about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. This year's theme is "Inclusion Works." In support of this national movement, the Sheldon, IA City Council approved a proclamation recognizing October 2016 as Disability Employment Awareness Month in Sheldon, IA during the October 5, 2016 council meeting.

"The Village is proud to be a part of this year's National Disability Employment Awareness Month," said Barry Whitsell, CEO, Village Northwest Unlimited. "We want to spread the important message that we value the diverse perspectives, including those of individuals with disabilities. We work with local employers to ensure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are given every opportunity for success through competitive, integrated employment opportunities. Currently, 42 people with a disability are working in area businesses and we thank those businesses for recognizing the abilities of people."

"The Village has been an integral part of the Sheldon community for many years," says Tricia Meendering, Sheldon, IA Mayor. "I would encourage the community of Sheldon to consider the many ways in which Village residents contribute to this community, especially through their work. I am happy to support Village Northwest Unlimited with the signing of this proclamation."

"By fostering a culture that embraces individual differences, including disabilities, businesses profit by having a wider variety of tools to confront challenges," said Jennifer Sheehy, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy. "Our nation's most successful companies proudly make inclusion a core value. They know that inclusion works. It works for workers; it works for employers; it works for opportunity, and it works for innovation."

Northwest Enterprises and Futures, vocational divisions of Village Northwest Unlimited, provide a supportive environment in which to teach vocational skills for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The Village provides a variety of work options and functional training opportunities to assist individuals in achieving maximum employment. The Village has partnerships with over 50 local employers for either supported community employment, competitive employment, or work center contracts. With 42 individuals working in competitive employment placements and 53 individuals working in supported employment, the Village is meeting its goal of providing the dignity of meaningful work for those who desire it.

The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month traces back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Village Northwest Unlimited is nationally recognized as one of the premier providers of services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, and autism spectrum disorder. VNU builds successful lives for 180 individuals by providing opportunities and choices in residential, vocational and social programs while fulfilling its mission of providing Purpose, Privacy and Dignity.