Archive for Employment

A Big Thing Called Discipline

Have you ever found it hard to do things, so you don’t do them?

A lot of people crumble at the sound of hard work. You may have goals and want more in life but with any kind of struggle most people give up, stop and don’t do it anymore.

Struggle and hard work is actually good for you. Take the struggle and hard times that may beat you to your knees and fight even harder to make your task become something. During the struggle is when you find out who you are and what you want in life. You have to be different then the many others that just let tough times defeat them.

Hold your head up and have determination in yourself that says that you will conquer, you will overcome, and you will go beyond beliefs.

Life is not easy but if you don’t let it hold you back, it will be so worth it. Here are some ideas to try, that might bring you past the hard times into great things:

  1. Turn on some music, watch a movie or do something that will relax you and take your mind off things.
  2. Now that you are relaxed and have a clearer mind, go out and take on the tasks and goals in your life.
  3. Remember that we are going to make mistakes and have obstacles come along, no matter how far you have come. What will take you even further or break you, is that you keep pushing no matter how many times it tries to knock you to your knees and defeat you!
  4. Now sometimes you may have tried something over and over and over again but it just is not working out. Take a step back and think about the situation and your passions. Decide if you should keep trying the same thing or try something new. Sometimes there will be things that just won’t happen for us but we still have to try other things because eventually something will stick. One example is when I was running my own web design business and I just was not getting customers no matter how hard I tried. I stepped back and decided that I would stop losing money in web design and go towards a bigger passion of mine. That passion is helping others and making a difference, so I became a motional speaker where I motivate, give the audience ways to live a better life, give ways to conquer your goals, bust down barriers and more. (
  5. When you conquer things, makes sure you celebrate. You got that far so why not be proud but after, you need to keep pushing further.

We have to really discipline ourselves and remember that things that need to be done, we have to do no matter how hard it is/gets. Take your life in your hands, squeak those wheels until you get that life you want and deserve and beyond!

If I Cannot Get There It Is Not Real

I recently took my son to a meeting of the Transportation Workgroup for the Florida Developmental Disability Council.  Thomas (TJ) sits on that workgroup.  Before the meeting started in my talks with one of the other workgroup members they made the comment “If I cannot get there it is not real.”  She was relating a statement that one of the FDDC members had made some time ago.

That simple statement hit home with me.  It was insightful, on target and right on point.  If I cannot get there it is not real.

Over 6 million person with disabilities have problems finding adequate transportation.  Statistics also show that as many as 1.9 million persons with disabilities almost never leave their homes because of transportation issues.

Transportation is a major issue and a major problem for those with disabilities.

For example, a job opens up that would be a good fit for a person with a disability.  This is a real job paying a real wage.  However, if the person qualified for the job has no way to get there then –  If I cannot get there it is not real.

New services are being offered or a new program opens up in a town or city that would benefit those with disabilities.  This program will enhance and enrich their lives. – If I cannot get there it is not real.

A movie has just been released that this person really wants to see.  However, there is no transportation available – no accessible transportation that they can use to go see the movie.  If I cannot get there it is not real.

Those who do not have transportation issues cannot understand what is like to live without adequate available transportation.  Those who do not have transportation issues see the world in a completely different way.

However, for those who have little or no transportation options – the world is not real.  If I cannot get there it is not real.

Solutions are available.  However, they involve investing in public transportation.  In areas where the population cannot support that option – then an investment in allowing those with disabilities to have access to private transportation options needs to be established.

Realize that 1.9 million people do not leave their homes because they lack transportation options – Unacceptable.  1.9 million people are denied access to a real life and the real world because of funding for transportation – Unacceptable.

The world is real.  Opportunities to enjoy life are real.  Jobs are real.  Restaurants and movie theatres are rea.

However – If I cannot get there it is not real.  So keep squeaking those wheels.

Another Year In Tallahassee

I recently made one of my yearly trips to our Capital in Tallahassee.  Some years I have make more than one trip, but most of the time it is just one trip to advocate for legislation helping those with disabilities.

Chatting with Senator Dean (he will soon be terming our and he will be missed) I was reminded that I have been meeting with him since his first year in office – that was 2002.  Time flies, so my trips have been going on for over 12 years.  I am not sure if I was visiting before he took office.  Encounters blur together and memories are not always perfect.

Never the less, it has been a lot of years advocating.  Over the years my advocacy has been varied, not just limited to those issues that affect the disabled.  In fact my first couple of years centered on children’s issues and my trips were made during Children’s Week at the Capital.

Although these last years I have been going up during Developmental Disability Day at the Capital I still advocate for more than just those with disabilities.  I continue to advocate for our children, especially those in foster care or recently adopted.  This year there were some justice issues that also were on my legislative agenda.  Two of them being a bill to end the death penalty in Florida (it may not pass this year but it is inevitable) and a bill to required a unanimous jury verdict to impost the death penalty (this looks like it could pass this year.)

Restoring budget cuts for those with disabilities is a big issue this year and will continue to be for the future.  Reimbursement rates for those who provide services to those with disabilities have been cut over 14% on the average.  And these cuts have been in place for over a decade.   This year advocacy groups are hoping to get 7% restored.  This will still not bring us back to 2003 levels.

Employment and transportation are also important issues.  There is an Employment First Bill that could give employers incentives to hire persons with disabilities.  Transportation funding always falls short of what is needed.

There are still over 20,000 Florida citizens with disabilities on a waiting list for services.  The legislature and governor are being asked to provide funding to remove as many as possible from this waiting list and to provide these essential services for our vulnerable citizens.

Children with disabilities are still being housed in nursing homes or facilities for adults.  Children with some medical needs, usually complex, are being housed in nursing home facilities for the elderly despite a lawsuit and direction from the Federal Government to place them in appropriate facilities.

There are many other issues that impact the daily life and quality of life of our citizens with disabilities.  These needs should be addressed and solutions put in place.

I am a realist when it comes to Tallahassee.  I look for, hope for and work for incremental changes.  This has worked in the past, as we have moved forward to better serve this population.  I am heartened by the fact that we have not taken any steps backward in the last few years.  This is an area where two steps forward and one step backward is unacceptable.



Tallahassee – Disability Day

Thomas and I will be attending the annual Disability Day at the Capital on Monday and Tuesday of this week.  DD Day will be on Tuesday; however we will be up a day early so that we can meet with as many legislators as possible while we are in town.

As advocates and a self-advocates it is important to stay connected with our state legislators.  It is also important to be active on the national level.  However, I have found that as advocates we can be more effective at the state level.  The laws and budgets passed by the State of Florida directly and significantly impact the lives of persons living with disabilities here in our state.

I have been advocating in Tallahassee since Jeb Bush was governor.  I like to think that my efforts have had some level of success and have helped to make the lives of many Florida citizens better.

The issues have remained the same for as long as I have been doing this.  We need better employment opportunities and better transportation services.  These two often go hand in hand.  It is hard to find employment if you can not get to and from work.  Persons with disabilities have a high rate of unemployment.  Only 18% of people with disabilities are employed.

Every year we fight to keep the Early Steps program funded.  This is administered by Children’s Medical Services and is the Part C of the IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  They provide early intervention services for 0 to 3 and serve over 40,000 children in Florida.  History has shown that early intervention works.

The Med Waiver has been under funded for a decade or more.  We currently have over 20,000 people on the Med Waiver waiting list.  Every year we work to increase funding in an attempt to reduce the waiting list and continue to provide community services for those who so desperately need them.

Last session we saw and increase in funding and were able to remove over 1,000 individuals from the waiting list.  However, we still have a long way to go.

Every year the treatment of children with disabilities in our public schools is discussed.  In 2010 we had the first significant legislation protecting children from the abuse of seclusion and restraint in our public schools.  This year there is no legislation proposed so our children will remain vulnerable to abuse for another year.

Each year we fight the same battles.  Some years we make small steps and we celebrate our successes.  It is sad that advocates for the most vulnerable members of our society have to settle for small incremental successes.  However, that is the reality that over 20% of our citizens live with. That is the percent of people who have a disability.

This Tuesday, March 18 you should hear the squeaking of wheels in Tallahassee.  I hope that our legislators listen and appreciate how difficult it is for so many of our disabled citizens to make the trip to the Capital.  We want to be listened to, we want to be heard and we want to be taken seriously.

We will continue to keep squeaking our wheels for as long as it takes.

More Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

NOTE:  This is a guest blog by a good friend.  Judy Owen owner of Opportunity Works, Inc. a Florida based full-service staffing company that brings a motivated and diverse workforce to our customers. Our focus on employing people with disabilities brings value and diversity to the workforce of our customers like no one else. Contact us today to learn how we can help complete your team.

Judy is also a regular blogger on Forbes.  Here is a link to her Forbes blog.

We are delighted to have our friend Judy as a guest blogger.  Thank you Judy.


Nearly two years ago, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a proposed rule to strengthen the U.S. Rehabilitation Act with regards to employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Finally, last week the rule was finalized. This new rule sets an aggressive 7% hiring goal of people with disabilities for all federal contractors. Not only do they need hiring goals they need to take on appropriate outreach and recruitment activities to demonstrate efforts to meet the goal.

This should bring a flurry of activity in to organizations named as examples of partners for outreach and recruitment activities, such as the nationwide network of centers for independent living, the state divisions of vocational rehabilitation and much to my surprise, “private recruitment sources, such as professional organizations or employment placement services that specialize in the placement of individuals with disabilities.” That means they’ve included companies like mine, Opportunity Works in the mix. This is great news! Not just because it can help my sales efforts. It’s great because two years ago, companies like mine didn’t exist. There are now just four staffing companies in the U.S. with a specific focus on recruiting people with disabilities. So, to see signs of our existence is exciting and hopefully we are here to stay and really can have an impact on the employment of people with disabilities.

Federal contractors have 120 days from commencement of a contract to get an affirmative action policy and procedures in place to comply with this new rule. In Florida that means over 14,000 companies now need to take action to comply. Many companies, especially larger ones, have started working to prepare for this rule already. Many more contractors will need help getting everything done. I hope my company is poised to provide support, but I hope all of the service providers around the state are watching out too. This is a boon of opportunity to prove the value of including disability in the work place. We read all the time about all of the people with disabilities who want to work… now is our chance to ensure we match them up to jobs they will cherish and get them out there working!


This Is Not A Charity Case

NOTE:  This is a guest blog by a good friend.  Judy Owen owner of Opportunity Works, Inc. a Florida based full-service staffing company that brings a motivated and diverse workforce to our customers. Our focus on employing people with disabilities brings value and diversity to the workforce of our customers like no one else. Contact us today to learn how we can help complete your team.

Judy is also a regular blogger on Forbes.  Here is a link to her Forbes blog.

We are delighted to have our friend Judy as a guest blogger.  Thank you Judy.


After 18 months in business I am now surprised when people ask me why my company is not a non-profit organization. You see I started a staffing company. There is really nothing unique in that. The staffing industry growth is robust. What is unique is that our company, Opportunity Works, focuses on recruiting people with disabilities. This leads many people first to assume that we are a non-profit and then to ask why we’re not.

We are for profit, because my mission is not driven by charity. My mission is driven by the strong business case to be made in including disability in the workplace. My employees are not charity cases. They are people. They are people who, if you look at them as a group, need work more desperately than most other Americans. They are hard-working, dedicated employees who want nothing more than to have a place where they are needed and productive and can achieve financial independence. Since the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, there has been little change in employment outcomes for people with disabilities. There is currently a system of government programs, funding non-profit agencies which provide a wealth of services and training for people with disabilities.

Understand that I serve on boards for such agencies. I have served on the government funded Florida Developmental Disabilities Council (every state has one), which advocates and supports projects around employment initiatives for people with disabilities. I am not knocking these programs at all. What they have struggled with the last two decades is getting meaningful outcomes: people with disabilities all over the workplace. In my advocacy work, I decided that this is a business problem, not a charity case or social service issue.

There is plenty of research to support this theory. People with disabilities have proven to use fewer unscheduled absences, stay in positions longer and boost team morale in the workplace. Businesses desperately want dedicated employees like this. I saw a business need in my community and Opportunity Works was started to bridge this gap.

The word is spreading. I met with the CEO of a local manufacturing company recently. He could easily be my pitch man. He, like me, is very involved in policy making around his industry. He told me that Florida currently has about 6,000 manufacturing jobs that companies are having a hard time filling. People don’t have the right training. He is working on some training initiatives and including disability in that. He has two employees with disabilities in his small 25 person shop and he just plain gets it. He is not my target customer. My target customers are all his peers that don’t get it yet.

Those manufacturers are great target markets, but so are the federal contractors who will likely have some quotas thrust upon them soon. There are about 14,000 federal contractors in Florida. So, there are lots of opportunities for people to find meaningful, competitive employment and really show off their many talents.


Ocala Rotary

About a month ago, Thomas got an email inviting him to speak at the Ocala Rotary Club.

This was such an honor and Thomas accepted. He got there not knowing how many people or who he will see. When he arrived he saw his friend Betty Grey and her daughter. They do therapeutic horseback riding in Marion County.

Thomas was showed where he should sit and relax and do a last run through of his talk, while everyone came in. Thomas met the lady who invited him. The meeting started and some business was handled before they called up a lady who introduced Thomas with a little background on him. Everyone applauded and Thomas came up to speak.

Thomas had motivated, inspired and made everyone laugh. One thing Thomas shared was a story called The Race he found on YouTube (

Thomas mentioned that he is the author of The Squeaky Wheelchair and that he is a motivational speaker who goes around speaking to different groups, businesses, charities, at conferences and events and more. Thomas Moon is available to speak at your next conference, event, business event, nonprofits, church, etc. Contact him at or by phone at 352-502-5994.

Thomas informs everyone today that it is time to step out of that freaking box they put themselves in and start moving forward. There is nothing that’s truly impossible if you set your mind to it. Looking at the word impossible, you will actually see two words that say, “I’m Possible.”

Get off that hinny of yours, step out of the box and keep squeaking your wheels until you conquer your goals and dreams!

FIU offers program for students with special needes

WEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) — A local school is giving students with special needs the opportunity to go to college.

Florida International University started it’s Project Panther Life for intellectually disabled students. “It’s important for people to realize that an intellectual disability does not limit you from so many other things that you can do in your life” said a Liliana Demoya, a mother who helped start the program.

Judy Owen A Great Friend Starts A New Business

Judy Owen – Entrepreneur, Advocate and Friend

Judy Owen has bee a good friend for a number of years now.  Her dedication and passion for helping the disabled is without limit.  She goes well beyond what you would expect from a parent advocate.  Judy truly believes in helping all disabled not just her child.

She has taken a giant leap of faith and started her own business. You can find information on Opportunity Works, Inc. a staffing company that focuses on placing people with disabilities.  She is located in Saint Petersburg, Florida.

Judy also is a contributor to the Forbes blog.  Check her out.

I hope she inspires others to take a chance.  Remember we need to keep squeaking those wheels.

Autism and Employment Webinar – Sept. 7, 2011

The Autism and Employment Webinar Learning Series: “Real Lives, Real Stories” September 7, 2011 * Noon-1:00 p.m.  Register Here.