October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Started by President Harry S. Truman and becoming law in 1945 this month is aimed at promoting the advancement of individuals with disabilities. On October 1, 2010 President Obama, with a Presidential Proclamation, stated that his administration is “committed to ensuring people living with disabilities have fair access to jobs so they can contribute to our economy and realize their dreams.” This effort has not been lost on the local level in Delaware. Kent-Sussex Industries, Inc. (KSI) has provided a unique opportunity for individuals who need specialized assistance since 1962.
KSI is a not for profit vocational rehabilitation organization which serves the residents of Kent and Sussex Counties with a focus on creating employment opportunities to those with disabilities. This organization has spent the past 48 years serving the needs of disabled individuals but also those of the business community. For each individual, KSI provides encouragement and confidence through vocational rehabilitation, job development, and training. For the business community KSI has provided contract labor services since 1977. They currently have six work crews under contract, working with familiar businesses such as Intervet America, Proctor & Gamble, Kraft Foods, and the Dover Air Force Base.
With approximately 300 individuals being employed by, or with the help of, KSI there is a myriad of employment opportunities based on the needs of each business and the ability of each person. KSI offers three employment programs. The first is on-site employment that is heavily supervised to ensure the education and safety of each individual. Activities provide for group and individual instruction in areas such as direction following, attention to task, sequencing, social interaction, and job readiness skills. The second type, community-based work service programs, offers a chance for employees to work in small groups in the community under KSI supervision. The third program, which offers the most independence, is the supported employment program where individuals become employees of the location where they work. KSI will supervise the progress of each employee to help get them acclimated with the job and also ensure longevity as time passes. Companies such as Bayhealth, Delaware Veterans Home, McDonalds, Olive Garden and Wawa have participated in this program.
With help from the local community, KSI has developed from an organization dependent on funding from government agencies to one which can be self-sufficient if needed. Alicia Hollis, Director of Community Relations, is proud of this achievement stating that “with so many government services being downsized it is important that we make sure all of our members are provided for.” At KSI it truly is all about providing each individual with an opportunity to learn and execute skills necessary for employment.
KSI will be hosting its second bi-annual Monster Bash on Saturday, October 30 at 7pm to midnight at the Sheraton Dover Hotel. In 2008 the Monster Bash raised $23,000 for the organization and created a considerable difference for future training and employment for those involved with KSI. As National Disability Employment Awareness Month continues KSI maintains it commitment to provide employment training for the disabled in our community. To learn more about the services KSI provides, visit www.ksiinc.org or contact the Community Relations Department at 302-422-4014 ext. 3015.