October matters in the world of disability, it is National Disability Employment Awareness Month! Although everyone here at camp has chosen to volunteer our time and give of our talents, we still value a strong work ethic.
Here at Camp Daniel we value work. Over the years, Little Tony has worked to instill a good work ethic in everyone that lives in our community homes. This is a daunting task for many reasons. Culturally, there is not the expectation a person living with a disability could engage in full time work. Another reason the task can be daunting is because each individual learns differently because of how their disability effects them. Here at camp, every few weeks another opportunity arises where new skills are learned.
Each of our residents has an area they appear to excel at here on the grounds. Jake loves the fall and being able to rake leaves. Jake is most satisfied when he can be interacting with people in a ministry setting. Many of us could not function with out Brian, who has the ability to anticipate what tool will be needed next and has the uncanny knack of knowing where tools and equipment are- even when the rest of us don’t have a clue. Richard seems to be a jack-of-all-trades he hangs drywall, cleans, and is often Tony’s right hand man when Tony is working on a project. Nick has become an expert in the area of hanging sheet rock and plastering. He continues to learn the skills to lead the rest of the team when Tony can’t be around to give direction. Chalsee continues to develop her skills in the realm of hospitality, crafting and childcare! When you talk with each of these folks they talk about what they do with great pride. On the grounds, they all enjoy showing people the work they have accomplished.
We write this blog because other than needing Jesus, employment is one of the biggest needs within the disability community. Camp Daniel strongly believes we are all made with a purpose. God created all of us for work; work was part of God’s design even before there was sin and the design does not exclude persons with disabilities. For 70 years, the government has determined we need to focus on employment for those with disabilities, yet less than half of individuals with disabilities make a living wage. These numbers are even lower if you have a significant disability or an intellectual disability. Over half of the disability population lives in poverty. Yet many of those same individuals long to work and have the same opportunities the world around them have been given. A living wage and meaningful work leads to a better quality of life.
Here at camp, we value work! Unlike many other people, the folks who chose to live here at Camp Daniel need extra supports to fulfill their God given dreams and purpose. As a community, we get to be involved in the process of individuals, especially those with disabilities, working in their areas of passion. Nothing excites our team more than the day we have a team in place where people are learning the spiritual value of work, and where people are working in their areas of passions.
Our long-term dream is to use Camp Daniel as a training center where people of all abilities learn trade skills including hospitality, carpentry, and simple mechanical skills and landscaping to then gain meaningful employment. We are a long ways from that dream, but in the mean time we can encourage each of you to do something right in your own community.
Many of you are decision makers or have influence with decision makers in your work places, you may want to advocate for persons with disabilities to become a part of your workplace either through employment, internships or through volunteering. Research indicates people with disabilities are more dependable and miss less work than their typical peers. For those of you who have experienced relationships with our campers, you know that the gift of friendship is invaluable, would it not be exciting to develop relationships like this in your workplace?
To learn more about how to effectively advocating or building friendships with those who have disabilities at your job contact Laura Lee at Lauralee@campdaniel.org