Breaking the Mold in East Texas, an event held to recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month and highlight the importance of hiring people with disabilities, is a labor of love for everyone involved.
Karen Holt, outreach coordinator for the East Texas Center for Independent Living and event coordinator, said there are about 30 businesses that have been instrumental in planning the event Tuesday.
“We do it from scratch,” Ms. Holt said. “We have no grant money.”
She said businesses and organizations who help put on the event donate 100 percent of their time and money.
“It's definitely a labor of love for everyone involved,” she said.
Five years ago, Workforce Solutions East Texas teamed with the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services and the East Texas Center for Independent Living to start Breaking the Mold in East Texas.
Their mission was to do something during National Disability Employment Awareness Month to highlight what it means to hire individuals with disabilities and to look at the market and diversify the work force. As the event grew, so did the involvement of community partners and businesses.
Breaking the Mold is designed for employers to gain knowledge from various speakers and implement a program within their company or organization to hire people with disabilities, Ms. Holt said.
State Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, will read a proclamation for National Disability Awareness Month, and the keynote speaker will be Jeff Mott of the Texas Veterans Commission, who will talk about “Hiring American Heroes, Disabled Veteran Job Candidates.”
His presentation will show veterans who have proven their ability and have been trained in military specialties that offer knowledge and experiences transferable to the civilian workforce. Employers will learn how hiring a veteran with a disability comes with tax credits and support systems that enhance their employability.
“We're getting so many veterans coming home now with various disabilities,” Ms. Holt said. “They're very employable.”
The free event also will feature a panel of business representatives who will talk about how hiring and retaining people with disabilities has positively impacted their bottom line, as well as a panel of individuals with disabilities who speak about the change in their life as a result of being successfully employed.
Businesses will learn about the reasonable and actual cost of job accommodations, how to develop a more diverse workplace and the benefits available as a result of hiring someone with a disability. The event also will include a complimentary lunch.
Ms. Holt, of Longview, said the event has been held in Tyler for the last four years, but they decided to hold it in Longview this year because so many people involved in planning the event are from both cities.
From 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, “Breaking the Mold in East Texas” will be held at the Maude Cobb Convention Center in Longview. Ms. Holt said more than 200 people, mostly East Texas employers, are expected to attend.
Richard E. Hopkins, of the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, will present “Assistive Technology in the Workplace,” which will address an interactive approach to using assistive technologies.
The “Employer Panel: Removing Myths and Challenges, a Business Perspective,” will include Jennifer Beery, of Suddenlink; Crystal McNally, of Walgreens; Cindy Patterson, of Pak-Sher; Cheyenne Whorton, of Hilton Garden Inn; and Mark Stonebraker, of Office Depot.
The “Panel of Workers with Disabilities: Removing Myths and Challenges, An Employees Perspective,” will include: Adam Arcinega, of Suddenlink; Greg Pope, of New Diana Independent School District; Kerry Easley, of Texas Veterans Commission; Shawn Findley, of Lowe's; Judie Moffett, of Barron's; and Darrin Brinkley, of Trinity School of Texas.
For more information, call Ms. Holt at 903-241-6021 or email email@example.com.
If you know of a professional woman or business service in Tyler you think should be highlighted in this column, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 903-596-6289.