Disability: Part of the Equity Equation

Jennie and max at the bean

The Arc of San Diego is proud to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Observed annually in October, NDEAM celebrates the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities and highlights inclusive employment policies and practices. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the theme for 2022 is ‘Disability: Part of the Equity Equation’ in recognition of the vital role people with disabilities play in making the nation’s workforce diverse and inclusive.


The Arc of San Diego provides employment training and support to more than 400 individuals with disabilities annually. These efforts are strengthened by partnerships with local businesses and organizations who are committed to employing individuals with disabilities. One of these organizations is the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center (JCC), who The Arc of San Diego has collaborated with to staff their newly reopened coffee shop, The Bean.


Jennie works as a barista at The Bean and receives support from The Arc of San Diego. “I enjoy making the drinks and saying ‘Hi’ to the customers,” Jennie shared with GB Magazine. “I also love my coworker Max, my manager and my job coach!”


“It has been great to watch Jennie excel at her barista skills and come out of her shell,” shared Wendy Smith, Inclusion Director at the JCC. “She is great with customer service and has worked hard to get to know everyone and make it a great experience for everyone who comes in.”


With her income from The Bean, Jennie is saving up to buy her own bicycle. “I also love flying and want to take a trip to Hawaii in the future,” added Jennie.


The JCC plans to expand programs similar to The Bean throughout the rest of the center. Smith says the next opportunity will be at the JCC’s fitness center where they will be hiring fitness attendants to work with the guest services team. Eventually they hope to expand to employment opportunities at the JCC’s preschool and administrative offices.


“Everybody deserves to have something meaningful that they are working for,” said Smith. “It is up to us to break down those barriers and make sure that can happen.”


author avatar
Esteban Villanueva