Millions of Americans with disabilities find themselves underemployed or unemployed despite their willingness and unique abilities to work.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for persons with a disability was 10.7% in 2015, while the rate for those without a disability was 5.1%. Despite their talents and desire to work, many individuals with disabilities face the challenge of the myth that their disability is an inability.
Challenge Unlimited is committed to helping people achieve their highest level of independence through opportunity. Our rehabilitation and vocational programs provide people who have different abilities a chance to work on integrated teams and receive work support as needed.
I am writing to commend you on the Challenge Unlimited program that you supervise. My daughter Margaret is a 29 year old that has been a client of the program for the past several months. Margaret is a learning disabled adult that has had her share of difficulties in finding suitable and rewarding employment. Margaret has many gifts but her disabilities have made it difficult for her to be successful in the workforce. I have always thought that with the right employer and the right program with the right advocate, Margaret would be successful. Your employee, Kelly Schillinger, has been that person for Margaret. She spent time getting to know Margaret and was able to help her identify her strengths and her weaknesses. She helped with interview skills and followed up with instructions to help Margaret learn from the experience. Kelly is a positive force in dealing with the employer helping Margaret be successful at her new job. By the time Margaret was employed, I feel not only was Kelly cheering for Margaret but also confident in Margaret’s success. Both the client, Margaret, and the employer have greatly benefited from the Challenge Unlimited program.
Living in Illinois with no state budget is daunting. The programs that have been lost and the people that have lost services is a disgrace. My hope is that every disabled adult is given the opportunity to work with someone like Kelly in the Challenge Unlimited program. As a mother of a disabled adult, this program and Kelly have been the start of another chapter in Margaret’s life. As she writes her story, I am much more confident in the happy ending.
Very truly yours,
Mary Link LaRose
cc: Bruce Rauner, Governor
William R. Haine, Illinois State Senator
Dwight Kay, Illinois State Representative
Kelly Schillinger, Job Coach Challenge Unlimited