This year marks the 10th anniversary of the program. Hillsborough County's event will be held on October 22.
Enable America, a non-profit organization devoted to empowering people with disabilities to achieve independence through employment, is encouraging all local businesses to participate in Hillsborough County's Disability Mentoring Day, which will be on Thursday, October 22.
Held each October, Disability Mentoring Day pairs mentors from local businesses with "mentees" from the community, people with disabilities or wounded veterans who often have difficulty finding work. While the experience helps those people become more employable, there is also value to the companies.
"Mentor businesses are finding great benefit in participating," says Enable America Executive Director Steve LaBour. "The program enables them to tap into an employee pool that is eager to learn more about workplace opportunities while giving businesses valuable insight on the benefits of mentoring and hiring people with disabilities. It is truly a win-win for everyone involved."
This year marks the 10th anniversary of National Disability Mentoring Day. The event was initiated in 1999 by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), as part of a White House effort to increase the profile of National Disability Employment Month. Now it is a national partnership between AAPD and the U.S. Department of Disability Employment policy.
Locally, the Hillsborough County Disability Mentoring Day Steering Committee directs the effort. This year Enable America's Maria Gumina is working with the committee, serving as co-chair of the 2009 Hillsborough County effort.
In addition to supporting the October event, Enable America works with businesses year-round, producing mentoring programs that provide multiple benefits to all. Not only do people with disabilities get real-life exposure to the working world, businesses benefit with the opportunity to recruit future employees, while demonstrating positive leadership within the Tampa community.
Enable America also organizes community connection forums, designed to bring local leaders, lawmakers, employers and service providers together to learn and share success stories. These meetings are an important step in building a bridge between those with disabilities, and their community.
Other successful programs launched by Enable America include VetConnect, which is dedicated to helping wounded warriors either return to active duty or re-acclimate to civilian life, by pairing them with veterans who have faced similar challenges. Since 2007, more than two-hundred wounded warriors and their families have been served by VetConnect mentors across the country. Another successful venture is Team Enable, which encourages physical fitness by people of all abilities, providing structure and support to organize activities.