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Chapter 11

Hi-Ho Hi-Ho, it’s off to work I go. Unfortunately, many people with disabilities can not say that. According to the latest statistics from the Department of Labor, as of March 1, 2021, only 19.1 percent of people with disabilities are employed. That’s compared to a 65.9 percent employment rate among the general population. The good news is that is an increase from 17.9 percent in 2020, but those numbers are not nearly high enough.

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That’s why October has been designated as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). 2022 marks the 77th anniversary of NDEAM and this year’s theme is, “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation”. What began as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week” in 1945 has expanded to the entire month of October with the mission of “Paying tribute to the accomplishments of the men and women with disabilities whose work helps keep the nation's economy strong and by reaffirming their commitment to ensure equal opportunity for all citizens”
I can speak from personal experience just how vital disability employment is because I’m part of the fortunate 19.1 percent. I’ve had a few jobs since graduating from Gardner-Webb University in 2008. My first was an internship with the Department of Labor Press Office in Washington, DC. Ironically, the media liaison promoting NDEAM for the Department of Labor is one of the former supervisors of my internship. It’s a small world.
In the Fall of 2008, after my internship concluded, I came back to Western North Carolina and began working as a freelancer for The Daily Courier newspaper and have been doing so ever since. Over the years, I’ve branched out, submitting articles to other outlets. These include covering conservative news media for the national outlet Barrett’s News Media and covering Liverpool Football (soccer) Club for a fan website based in England. Some of my career highlights include covering a pair of Junior League World baseball tournaments in Detroit, Michigan, traveling to Dallas, Texas to write about a local athlete playing in the NFL for the Cowboys when they faced the Carolina Panthers, and chronicling Gardner-Webb’s basketball game in the NCAA Tournament. I hope to make a trip across the pond to Liverpool, England to cover a match in person
Mostly though, I make the rounds covering high school sports in Western North Carolina. My goal for every game is to shine the spotlight on young athletes and their performances just as if they played professionally. It’s very rewarding for me and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. It’s my calling.

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My Chesapeake Bay Retriever Gabe likes to work, also. Known as the All-American Retriever, the Chessie seems to have boundless energy. When the breed was first recognized by the AKC in the 1800s, Chessies were known to retrieve as many as 300 ducks a day to help control the overpopulation of waterfowl in the Chesapeake Bay Area of Maryland and Virginia. While Gabe does not hunt ducks, he is on the move constantly, roaming around our 52-acre farm with his nose to the ground, looking for something to chase, catch and then bring to me. His prizes so far include a few moles and lots of box turtles. The other day, Gabe learned the painful lesson not to stick his nose in a yellow jacket’s nest. Even after a full day of running and retrieving, he is always ready for more. Like me, Gabe loves to work.
As seen from the DOL statistics, not everyone with a disability has the opportunity to work and it’s sad. Everybody has been given a gift and they deserve to show it for everyone to see. That’s why Arin’s Good Girl Dog Treats and other businesses like them who employ disabled workers are so important. They give people who would not otherwise have one, a chance to show off their unique skills. Doing so fosters a sense of fulfillment and self-worth that cannot be found any other way. Along with providing your best friend with tasty treats, Arin’s Good Girl Dog Treats provides an invaluable service to the disability community. That is worth a big round of applause or “a-paws” any month of the year.