MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – One of the goals of the United Way of Madison County, and its partner agencies, is to help people with disabilities find their abilities and use them in meaningful work. Two partner agencies that work to accomplish that goal are Arc of Madison County and Phoenix.

The Arc of Madison County was founded in the late 1950s by a group of parents seeking services and support for children with disabilities.

The organization is an advocate for everyone with disabilities – from infants to adults. Their services include programs for high school students, transition programs to assist young people as they enter adulthood and programs that help develop job skills.

Phoenix’s origination dates to the early 1950s, coinciding with the polio epidemic that struck the United States around that time. The nonprofit offers a variety of services. The organization helps individuals with disabilities gain and maintain employment. Phoenix has different programs ranging from high school, to working out in the community and helping people become work ready.

Michala Parsons with the Arc of Madison County says individuals with disabilities can encounter challenges seeking employment.

“The term disability in and of itself, that automatically paints a picture in the minds of employers and really what we want employers to know is instead of focusing on the ‘dis’, focusing on being able to look past that and looking at the unique abilities our clientele bring,” Parsons said.

Rachel Mason with Phoenix elaborated on the challenges their employed clients experience.

“There’s a lot of barriers to transportation, getting them there, getting off on time. So, we find that is one of the biggest barriers to employment. However, United Way and other partners like us have come together to come up with different resources to kind of beat that barrier,” Mason said.

To contact the Arc of Madison County, people can visit their website or call (256) 924-6455. To contact Phoenix people can visit their website or call (256) 880-0680.

Parsons also recommends people interested in their services contact The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services.