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Huntsville non-profit continues mission to help improve the quality of life for people with disabilities

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, something a Huntsville non-profit has engaged in since the 1970s.

Phoenix assists people, primarily those with disabilities, to improve the quality of their lives. It is a United Way partner agency, with most of the referrals coming from the Alabama Department of Rehab Services.

According to Phoenix Program Director Samantha Baugher, "unemployment rates are twice as high for people with disabilities when compared to our able-bodied peers."

"In 2018, only 19 percent of the population with a disability were employed compared to 65 percent of the population without a disability."

They carry out their mission in 12 counties in North Alabama, serving more than 1,000 individuals each year.

The vocational services division has five programs:

  • Vocational Evaluation - an assessment of a person's knowledge, skills and abilities. It provides recommendations for employment, what training would be beneficial, and other rehab services that could help.
  • Educational Services - a wide range of classes available to high school students with disabilities that help prepare them for life after high school.
  • Partners with Industry - develop job opportunities for an individual, which is consistent with his/her knowledge, skills and abilities. Follow up and job coaching is provided for onsite training, and maintaining of the job.
  • Milestone - provides the same types of supports as partners with industry but on a more in-depth and intense level. For example in Milestones, partners would help the individual get a job, assist with hands-on coaching and continue follow-up for as long as the individual has that job.
  • Employee Support Services - provides case management, job coaching, employee assistance, accommodations and training to employees working within Phoenix.

Phoenix employs nearly 500 people with disabilities through its federal contracts on Redstone Arsenal and in its manufacturing plant on Johnson Road.

The non-profit is always looking for more businesses to come alongside its mission and hire people with disabilities.

To learn more, visit their website or call 256-880-0680.

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