CHICAGO (CBS) — The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on job prospects for people with disabilities.
Working for Chicago means helping everyone navigate the difficult job market.
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A Northbrook foundation has been helping people with disabilities reenter the workforce in a way that makes sense.
“To be honest, I’m excited to be where I’m at,” said Erin Diamond.
Keeping her hands busy is how Diamond finds joy, which is why she went to Keshet to find a job.
“Erin, before the pandemic, was working at Mariano’s, and during the pandemic she couldn’t get into work. It was heart wrenching,” said Jen Phillips, president and CEO of Keshet.
The transition program is meant to help other adults with disabilities like Diamond enter the workforce.
They say before the pandemic, 90% of their adults had jobs. That number has since flipped. 94% are unemployed.
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“It was really heartbreaking because it was difficult to begin with to get a job,” said Phillips.
She knew they had to pivot.
“Thinking, ‘How can we give them these skills again?’” she said.
So they made a change to work with change. They called it Coins for Keshet and collected pennies, quarters, dimes and nickels. It was a chance to not only give adults with developmental disabilities something to do but also to keep their social skills and learn new ones.
“They’re learning those skills, building that confidence,” said Phillips. “This job is going to help them get other employment opportunities.”
And it seems to be working. Diamond and some of her friends returned to Mariano’s a few weeks ago and hit the ground running.
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“Keshet helped me go back to my job,” she said. “I love being back and seeing everyone again.”