Happy National Disability Employment Awareness Month!


Provided by M. Angelini

Gabi Angelini, as pictured, is the epitome of a go-getter and businesswoman. Her business, Gabi’s Grounds, seeks to empower individuals with disabilities one cup at a time; making the perfect subject for National Disability Employment Awareness Month this October.

Janie Inscore, Co Editor-in-Chief

 It is now officially October, and fall is not all that this month brings. A lesser-known, nationally recognized celebration acknowledged all throughout October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)! Although it does not garner as much attention as other popular month-long celebrations, this month is equally important – and brings attention to a prominent cause in today’s society. The historic year of 2020 happens to be the seventy-fifth anniversary of the first NDEAM observance, as well as the thirtieth anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Each year, a new theme is announced in conjunction with the month-long commemoration. This year’s theme is “Increasing Access and Opportunity,” which perfectly aligns with all that NDEAM set out to achieve in their campaign for equivocal opportunities for disabled people. 

  October is meant to recognize the invaluable contributions that differently abled people bring to the workforce. It is also a time to reflect on the American commitment, or lack thereof, to providing opportunities for citizens of all abilities to pursue jobs. In 2019, statistics showed that people living with disabilities were employed at a rate of just 19.3 percent. This is a stark contrast to the 66.3 percent of Americans without disabilities who are employed. For those who are not math inclined, there is an extreme disproportion here. Forty-seven percent more people are employed without a disability compared to those who do have a disability. One individual that has struggled personally with finding a job as a result of many employers’ unwillingness to hire people with Down Syndrome is Gabi Angelini. Although much improvement is needed in the availability of jobs for disabled Americans; Gabi, a recent MHS graduate, has defeated the odds, and succeeded not in finding a job, but in creating a job for herself. 

  Ever heard of Gabi’s Grounds? This non-profit coffee company was founded by Angelini, a former Millbrook special education student, who dreams of employing her friends one day. Her success is just getting started, having founded her business about a year ago. Currently, their coffee is sold online, with occasional pop-up shops all over Raleigh. Their goal is to one day open a brick and mortar shop, and to offer jobs to the hard working, worthy people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. For now, their focus is on empowering individuals one cup a time. Gabi herself has been empowered by her work, exclaiming that “it is super cool to be famous. I hope to work with my friends one day in my own coffee shop!” If any readers out there are interested in helping Gabi achieve this aspiration of hers, you can purchase coffee from gabisgrounds.com. Also, be on the lookout for information about her pop-up shops, which will be advertised through @GabisGrounds on Instagram and Facebook. You might even see a collaboration between Millbrook’s own Unified Best Buds club and Gabi in the near future. 

  This month, the Cat Talk staff asks that all readers consider what they can do to celebrate NDEAW. As said by junior Katie Savell, “Celebrating NDEAM is very important. Individuals with different abilities than us need and deserve an opportunity to be able to support themselves. They are capable, friendly, and inspiring individuals who can make a positive difference in the workforce.” Becoming educated on the issue of disability discrimination, fighting to help disabled persons achieve equal access and opportunity to jobs, and informing others on the problem are all ways that activists can make a difference this October. Always remember the saying, “Don’t DIS my ABILITY.” Happy National Disability Employment Awareness Month!