Annual Supported Employment Symposium

Hosted by the Abound Health Advocacy team, this annual panel provides resources and information about the I/DD workforce. With distinguished guest speakers and success stories, we explore and celebrate the benefits of Supported Employment. 

Chrystal Austin, Executive Director of Real Life Works, kicks off the Symposium from her storefront in Raleigh. This thrift store employs members of the I/DD community in the Triangle area. Chrystal looks forward to spreading their mission of creating more employment opportunities for all. 

The next speaker is entrepreneur Gabi of Gabi’s Grounds. Gabi recalls how her employment journey started in a restaurant and how she needed a change of pace. With her mother Mary’s support, Gabi became the proud owner of a coffee shop in Raleigh. Gabi and Mary then share how their business is growing and celebrate the fact that they now have 40 employees.  

The Advocacy team then interviews Tamira White from the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities. Tamira shares the council’s current initiatives that include vocational education and increased financial security across North Carolina. Learn more about the council here.  

The forum’s last speaker is Jon Stoops, COO of JEC and Company. Jon and his team are disability inclusion consultants that match large businesses with the I/DD workforce. Jon mentions that businesses “are now seeing the value of what hiring individuals with disabilities can do for their company”. Learn more about JEC here. 

The panel continues with a highlight reel from Elijah’s Xtreme Hot Sauce, a NC Small Business of the Year that employs persons of all abilities.

To conclude the forum, the Advocacy team airs a one on one interview with Ruth and Hannah of Hannah’s Happy Hands. After receiving bath bombs as a gift, Abound Health client Hannah was inspired to create her own! With the help of her mother Ruth, she has made her love for bath bombs a successful business. 

This forum is one of the many efforts made by our Advocacy team to remedy the high unemployment rate in the I/DD community. We look forward to empowering more clients through meaningful work.

To learn more about our Supported Employment Program, contact our Advocacy team here

View the full Supported Employment Symposium here.

To learn more about our Supported Employment Program, contact our Advocacy team here.