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National Disability Employment Awareness Month

This is what we know: Inclusion works.

An inclusive workforce where people with and without disabilities work alongside each other. People benefit. Businesses benefit. And the community as a whole benefits. That’s why we’re so dedicated to inclusive employment opportunities. In support of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, read how inclusive employment has made a difference in the lives of our fellow employees.

Laurie, MDI Cohasset

Laurie enjoys working at MDI. She helps make plastic totes and trays that are used by businesses across the country. Laurie looks forward to being with her friends and being around others. She enjoys being in an environment where she can be social and with others.

Outside of work, Laurie enjoys being with family, cleaning, playing board games, arts and crafts. She likes her job to stay busy and the fact that MDI supports her as she earns money.

“Working at an inclusive job means that I get to work with my friends.”

Emily, MDI Cohasset

Emily moved to Minnesota from the Philippines 5 years ago and has been at MDI for about a year and a half.  She came from a job where people would be laid off from time to time.  Emily enjoys working at MDI because it offered stability in her job as well as more money.  She enjoys the people that she works with as well as her boss.  Working at MDI has helped her interact and get to know people, treat them with respect, and she is able to help them if needed.  Emily looks forward to learning new skills and becoming more productive. Working on an assembly line has helped her to enjoy routine.

Outside of work, Emily enjoys cooking, cleaning, and gardening.  She enjoys cooking Asian food.

“Working at an inclusive job provides stability for me.”

Ben, MDI Cohasset

Ben has been with MDI for 13 years and enjoys coming to work to see his friends and co-workers. He has become a better co-worker, because MDI offers employment to people with many different skills at many different levels. He enjoys doing different opportunities and does go to Grand Rapids Marine one day a week to clean out in the community.

Outside of work, Ben enjoys arts and crafts, playing with his dogs, and going shopping with his mom. Aldi’s seems to be a popular place to go to.

“Working at an inclusive job means that I am welcome to work here regardless of my skills and people say that I do a good job.”

Gail, MDI Cohasset

Gail has been working for MDI for 21 years. Gail enjoys the various opportunities that MDI has allowed her to do such has folding, welding, inspecting and labeling totes. She also cleans in the community.

Gail carries her skills to home where she enjoys cleaning, making hamburgers, doing puzzles and search-a-words. She also likes to play with her dog. MDI is a special place for her. She likes to be with her co-workers and is grateful that MDI offers employment to people with different skill sets and people with disabilities. Prior coming to MDI, she had worked at a couple of places in town, but MDI gave her more opportunities and money.

“Working at an inclusive job means that I can get more opportunities to do different things.”





Randy, MDI Grand Rapids

Randy likes the people he works with, the hours and having weekends off. Randy feels that businesses would do well with hiring people with disabilities, because it is great for people with disabilities to get different experiences, so they are able to go out and do different things.

Outside of work Randy likes to do woodworking, which he has done for about five years. He started out by reading woodworking books and taking a woodworking class at Zion Church. Randy’s first project was making seven diamond willow lamps. Diamond willow is a type of tree with wood that is deformed into diamond-shaped segments with alternating colors.

“Working at an inclusive job you get to meet people from different backgrounds.”

Deborah, MDI Hibbing

Deborah has worked at MDI Hibbing for about two years. She helps with plastic tote assembly, inspection, labeling and rework. Deborah currently lives in Big Fork, but is looking to purchase her first home, so she can be closer to work.

In her spare time she enjoys gardening, spending time with my family (especially her niece and nephew), hiking and being in nature. Deborah enjoys working in an inclusive job that gives her the opportunity to work with a variety of folks of all different strengths and weaknesses.

“Working at an inclusive place gives me the opportunity to work with a variety of folks all with different strengths and weaknesses.”  

Justin, MDI Hibbing

Justin been at MDI for about five years. He helps with handle welding, folding and palletizing. Working at MDI has helped Justin meet people and make friends with people who have become life-long friends now! These friends are very important people in his life and without working at MDI in an inclusive job, he probably would never have met them. He also likes earning money so he can buy video games, movies, eat out and do activities with friends.

Outside of MDI, Justin hangs out with co-workers (friends). They go out to eat, cook meals to share, do activities that he would have never experienced before. Some of these activities include: visiting the Wolf Center and Bear Centers in Ely, trying new places to eat, bowling, Iron World, taking rides to look at different places, and just enjoying each others company.

Because of Justin’s employment, and with some reassurances and some help, he has recently moved into his own apartment! It was always his goal to do so, and he’s so happy it happened! He likes having his own place!

“Working in an inclusive job means I have gotten to meet people I would not have otherwise met.”

Steve, MDI Minneapolis

Steve really enjoys working at MDI. He is able to work in a lot of different areas. It has been a really good place, because he is able to get the support that he needs. MDI is very good at recognizing your strengths and working on your weaknesses, without giving you a hard time about it.

Since he has been given the opportunity to work with a wide range of people and learning new skills, he is able to take those skills to his home life, friend life, and when he volunteers. He has the skills to provide a different perspective and other things as well.

One of his big things, pre-COVID, was to volunteer at the Dodge Nature Center and the Special Olympics. He also likes to read books of all kinds. He likes to go for walks and bike rides. He does like to workout at his local YMCA as well.

At MDI, he is able to work on a lot of machines. He has worked with certain machines and tools, so he has what is called “hard skills.” He also has learned some “soft skills” too through the Career Skills courses. Steve has been working on his speaking and communications skills.

Steve said when a business limits who they want to hire, you never know who will be an ace in the deck. If companies don’t expand what you are looking for, then you miss people who want to work hard. Some of the most successful people barely graduated from high school. Everybody has their own path in life and that does not mean that they will not excel at a job.

Steve likes to participate in MDI sponsored events. He has done a lot of Special Olympics stuff, such as volunteering for sports and the Polar Plunge. Steve has taken several MDI classes including Career Skills. He has been to all of the company picnics. He has spoken at the state capitol several times. He has also been featured on the MDI blog and social media pages.

“It just means that I have a chance to work with a wide range of people with different skills levels. No one is excluded. Some can build others up and some can build you up as well.” 

Denise, MDI Minneapolis

Denise has worked at MDI for over 30 years!!! Denise likes to see different stamps, enjoys working on packaging products and doing her job right – the first time. Denise has learned new skills from working every day, through MDI Career Skills classes, and company events (picnics, bowling, etc). She has improved her social interactions, especially with her Girl Scouts group. Recently she was chosen to help with the 2020 Ability Bash video to help promote MDI and it’s mission of servicing people with disabilities.

Denise also likes that she has have had the opportunity to volunteer at MDI. She recently volunteers with MDI at the Special Olympics golf tournament. Outside of work, she likes coloring flowers and doing jigsaw puzzles.

“It’s good to work at a place that includes everybody.”