#NDEAM | Chuck’s Employment Story

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). NDEAM commemorates the many and varied contributions of people with disabilities to America’s workplaces and economy. The theme for NDEAM 2021, “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion,” reflects the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In recognition of NDEAM, Chuck Kinney, friend of Independence Now and Disability Advocate at The Freedom Center, shared his story with us!

Photo of Chuck Kinney in front of banner for The Freedom Center.
Chuck Kinney
Life, like domino’s, may and can afford one opportunity to prepare and set pieces in place. I have been working as a volunteer for over seven years which unintentionally helped prepare my heart and pave the way for where I am now. Up until seven months ago, I had not had a paying job since a car wreck I was in nearly 20 years ago. I now work at The Freedom Center, a Center for Independent Living (CIL) serving Fredrick and Carroll County. My job is to assist disabled individuals to live independent lives to the best of their desire and ability. I have also been an attendee and mentor of the University of Maryland Rehabilitation and Orthopedic Institute’s (UMROI) Spinal Cord Injury Support Group. Shannon Minnick, also a member/mentor of the support group, as well as Deputy Director of the CIL Independence Now, set a “domino piece” in position on the table. She announced that The Freedom Center was looking to hire a disability advocate during a support group meeting. I looked into the job (as I had for so many other jobs in previous years) and “pushed the piece over” by sending an email with my resume. Some domino trails knock one, none, or many over in the process, which nonetheless requires action.

For over a year prior to starting my new job, I had been struggling on my own to obtain a HUD Mainstream Housing Voucher. I finally obtained a housing voucher and was able to live on my own at age 41. I got a paying job after almost 20 years and am paying back into the system that has helped support me. As a job and reward, I am helping other disabled individuals like myself potentially do the same for themselves as Shannon does. Dominoes! Living with a disability may, unfortunately, encourage one to become self-absorbed and as a result, can also become a limiting barrier to seek and find growth and progress through life’s circumstances. Working again after the result of acquiring permanent disabilities allows me to commit to a purpose that involves me but is not about me. I thank God.

#NDEAM | Chuck’s Employment Story
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