In October of 2016, Hurricane Matthew hit the poverty-stricken country of Haiti harder than any other piece of land on its path of destruction. Help was needed and CentralReach and it’s users were a part of the thousands of people who donated their time, money or both to the people in need. CentralReach worked with the Global Orphan Project to provide supplies to their orphanages hit hardest by this unfortunate natural disaster.

It was during this time of reaching out to help others in need, came inspiration for another type of reaching out. Seeing how the Global Orphan Project provided hope for the kids they serve, CentralReach CEO Charlotte Fudge knew that CR could make a difference for some of the most forgotten people in the community we live in everyday. To help the same people that have thrived thanks to the incredible work of organizations that utilize CentralReach to help give the best care possible. We could provide a place of employment for adults with disabilities. The ReachOut Initiative of CentralReach was born on that trip.

Just one month later, CentralReach quickly expanded its workforce. As of the first quarter of 2017, CentralReach employs five young adults with disabilities as data entry specialists. Under the leadership of Katy Han, who leads the CentralReach Data Entry team, these five work incredibly hard everyday to quickly and accurately input a seemingly endless amount of data into organization’s accounts who use CentralReach. They are great at what they do, and they bring a lot of energy and laughter to the CentralReach offices. They all live on the autism spectrum. They all are rockstars.

Working with local organizations to locate individuals who are seeking, and can thrive in, the type of opportunity CentralReach can provide, the Reachout Initiative is off and running thanks to the hard work of many. Going forward, the Reachout Initiative looks to identify and hire at least one more adult with a disability in the first quarter of 2017. The end goal is to bring attention to this forgotten subset of the workforce who has proven to thrive when given the right opportunity in the right environment. Additionally, CentralReach aims to create change and encourage other organizations to consider creating positions for those with behavioral disabilities.

According to the Autism in Big Business report, the unemployment rate for individuals with autism is estimated to be up to 85-percent. There are approximately 54 million Americans living with disabilities, and only 20-percent of them are employed or seeking employment. However, many large corporations, such as Cisco, Ernst & Young, Microsoft, Target and Home Depot have created initiatives that focus on creating positions and opportunity for people with disabilities, and in some cases, specifically adults on the autism spectrum.

CentralReach is excited to join the list of organizations who have made it a point to expand its workforce to always employ adults with disabilities. Furthermore, we encourage other organizations we work with to consider employing adults who live with autism as well. We ask ourselves, “Who better to provide a place of employment for adults with autism than the organizations who so amazingly provide life-changing care for this disorder?”

We understand getting started is sometime the biggest hurdle to get over with implementing something this impactful. Our friends at Autism Speaks have some useful resources to help your organization get started and answers to questions you surely have. Additionally, the majority of local areas likely has some sort of vocational assistance program that can help place the right employee. For example, here is South Florida, we are happy to work with Vocation Depot on this initiative.