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National Disability Employment Awareness Month spotlight: Momentum Work, Inc helps local residents with disabilities find job opportunities

ISLA VISTA, Calif. - October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, a time to celebrate the contributions of American workers with disabilities.

A group of people with disabilities with Momentum Work, Inc has cleaned the Santa Barbara Harbor everyday for the last 30 years. The group is responsible for taking out the trash and cleaning up the harbor bathrooms. The city of Santa Barbara says the work this group does helps a lot.

"They are eyes and ears for us. They let us know when they find issues and what needs repairs," said Nels Anderson, Waterfront Maintenance Supervisor.

People who do business at the harbor say they appreciate the extra help too.

"People thank us a lot for doing this, you know, and it puts a smile on us," said Anthony Brown, Harbor Cleaning Crew, Momentum Work, INC.

Momentum Work, Inc is a disability support group based in Los Angeles but has a chapter here in Santa Barbara. The organization offers a variety of programs like employment services and housing services. 

"We try and create matches between the employer and the person served, and we find that really helps the person stay in that position for for a longer period of time," said Jake Lowry, Individual Employment Services Coordinator, Momentum Work, Inc.

Momentum Work, Inc helped Sophia Lee Park get her internship with the Isla Vista Services District as their accessibility advocate. Park has created a website with resources for other people with disabilities in the community. 

"We talked internally and I don't think that there is a place where the comprehensiveness of these resources is available all in one place," said Sydney Casler, Community Engagement Director, Isla Vista Community Services District.

Casley says Park is also responsible for ensuring that the district's programs, events, outreach strategies, and materials are supportive, inclusive, and accessible to individuals with disabilities. Park says educational and employment opportunities for people with disabilities are not always accessible.

"[Some organizations] delay accommodations and often accessibility is not at the forefront, but rather an afterthought," Sophia Lee-Park, IVCS Intern.

Casley says it is not hard to make adjustments at the workplace for people with disabilities and employers should be open their workforce to them. "My hope is that by us sharing this opportunity, that other organizations take inspiration to carve out future opportunities for individuals with disabilities to come into their organization and support the work that they're doing and carry their mission forward," said Casley. 

Parker emphases that employers should be hire disabled people outside of disability specific roles. 

"There are so many people in the workforce potentially that are just one accommodation or support away from being incredible employees that stay long term," said Lowry. 

On Friday at noon via Zoom, Park will give a presentation on best practices and techniques for organizations to help them make sure their programs and events are accessible for everyone. 

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
isla vista
National Disability Employment Month

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