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Group helps disabled workers become part of community

Readers in Pennsylvania may be interested to read about how community members in another state are helping people with disabilities. Those with intellectual and developmental disabilities in a suburb community will soon have a new opportunity to work, thanks to a new nonprofit organization. The organization, Best Futures Inc., was founded by suburban families with loved ones who are disabled. They attained nonprofit status a few months ago and are now pursuing 501(c)(3) status.

Their first big effort is to launch a concession stand at a local ice arena, where those with disabilities can serve snacks and beverages to customers. By doing such a job, they can move from Medicaid, part of the government's Supplemental Security Income program, to Medicare, part of the Social Security Disability Insurance program.

Some of the parents in Best Futures also took part in another employment opportunity in the community -- a café that also employs those with disabilities. One mother, whose son was the first disabled person hired at the café, says employment has had a positive impact on her son's life.

The job helps those like her son, who is autistic, work on social skills and positive self-esteem. He loves to go to work, she said. "In high school, he never learned to tie his shoes, but he learned to sign his name. He's so thrilled to sign his paychecks." The job also helps create connections with the community and form relationships.

The concession stand at the ice rink is scheduled to open next month. In the meantime, Best Futures is holding fundraisers to cover concession stand equipment costs. Once the stand covers costs and starts making money, employees will start receiving paychecks.

Source: Buffalo Grove Patch, "Volunteers Work to Provide 'Best Futures' for Disabled Residents," Cristel Mohrman, Dec. 2, 2011

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