TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - 28-percent of working age people with disabilities in the United States have a job. That percentage has only gotten smaller as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take its toll on the U.S. economy.
“I was furloughed for 6 months,” said Justin Hammonds a Pool Attendant at a Marriott Hotel. “I thought everything was going downhill.”
Hammonds, a 31-year-old with Asperger’s, says for 6 months, with the help of his employment mentor, he filled out application after application looking to get back into the job market.
“It was very scary at first,” said Adelaide May. “I thought oh my gosh I’m going to lose my job I can’t go in for two weeks”.
Adelaide May who works as a customer support agent is also getting help through the Beacon Group. She tested positive for COVID-19 in June.
Before battling the virus, May was homeless after losing her job because of complications with a serious mental illness.
“I thought I messed up my life beyond repair,” said May. “If there’s one thing that I’ve learned, it’s that people are built like phoenix’s they can crumble down completely, and they will rise right back up... you just have to remember to rise.”
Both May and Hammonds are doing just that-- rising above their disabilities and employment struggles. Hammonds is now back on the pool deck doing what he says he loves most- interacting with guests. May is also finding her way, she is living in assisted housing and has a car.
“I love my new job,” said May. I’m helping other people and that why I was put on this planet to do."
There are still 270,000 adults with disabilities looking for work in Arizona.
“They’re dedicated workers,” said Greg Natvig the President and CEO of The Beacon Group. “They make great employees and I guarantee they will improve the culture of every company they work for.”
“we are people we have flaws like every other worker,” said May. “That shouldn’t stop you from taking us in.”