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Employment When You are Ill

Sometimes inspiration strikes when you least expect it. For years, we wondered how those of you who are ill from these vaccines could regain your dignity, self-worth, and sense of making a contribution through work. So many of you are unable to work, or can only work in limited ways. So we've long thought "Either be self-employed and work from home, or find an accommodating job." There is dignity in any honest labor - we'll remind you of that often! There is also dignity and healing in any kind of volunteer work you may choose to do, and, not surprisingly, volunteer work often can lead to paid work. So let's begin.

I. Finding a job
Fortune Small Business magazine, FSB came out with an incredible article in its May, 2005 issue, titled "Hire Calling: An employment agency profits by finding jobs for workers with disabilities." It's on page 48, and if you get a chance to find it on your local newsstand or through a back-issue Internet search, its well worth it. This one article will restore your hope and give you inspiration. Here's how it starts out:

"Nobody wants to hire a guy who has to go to the doctor all the time - or so W. Devin Sartin thought. Honorably discharged from the Army because of his asthma, debilitating migraines, and inflammation of his chest, Sartin, a veteran of the last Gulf war and the Panama conflict, managed to land an accounting job that graciously accommodated his many medical appointments. But when he was laid off for economic reasons, Sartin worried that his next employer might not be so generous. His expectations were low when he walked into Diversity Services, an employment agency based in New York Cityナ.. Sartin, 38, was pleasantly surprised to walk out with a temporary position as a payroll assistant at the agencyナ."

He had happened to walk into one of the 30 for-profit agencies around the country specializing in providing work for those with disabilities, ranging from schizophrenia to blindness.

How to find such an agency near you? We found great listings (which follow this section) on the Internet courtesy of the Job Accommodation Network site at: http://www.jan.wvu.edu/links/employ.htm Another good site is the Diversity World, at http://www.diversityworld.com/Disability/jobseek.htm.

II. Becoming self-employed
It is difficult to begin to think of oneself as disabled, particularly without falling into the "victim mentality" trap mentioned elsewhere in this section of the web site (see "Thinking Differently.). It may be better to think of yourself as having certain physical limitations that you never had before, but absolutely NO limitations in terms of your attitude.

For example, many people suffer from short-term memory loss after receiving the anthrax vaccine. For some, this is alleviated over time; for others, it seems to require a permanent adjustment in lifestyle, such as writing every single thing down throughout the day. This can be extremely difficult, and would make holding down a full-time job that had any complexity to it very difficult. It's also not a good idea to take a job where you would have to operate under deadline pressure - you might forget the deadlines.

So what can you do instead? With a little help from your family and friends to keep you on schedule, perhaps you can do any of the following part-time jobs from your own home:

Remember, there is dignity in any honest labor. It almost doesn't matter whether you can do a job, or even a portion of a job, successfully right now or not. It matters that you set a goal, and that you work toward it, and do what you can.

If you are having a lot of physical problems such as debilitating fatigue, bone and joint pain, migraine headaches, and more, then you will only be able to work sporadically.

A warning: MOST of the online companies that promote themselves as offering you work from home are scams. They charge outrageous fees, and you will not get the work or the pay that you anticipate. If you sign up to get information from any of the multitude of companies listed, make sure there is a money-back guarantee before you start. Also, get references, and check out those references. Because we find it impossible to tell which sites are legitimate, we are not listing any here. We suggest you go to www.google.com and type in "Self-employment possibilities."

Aside from that - start asking your family and friends what they need to have done. Get the word out on the grapevine that you can work, on a limited schedule. Take out a piece of paper and write down what things you are able to do. For example: You'll think of many more on your own.

Now write another list of the things that are your limitations. For example, it might be: This list is not meant to be all-inclusive - these are just examples.

Now - out of the two lists, take your limitations and see how they fit next to these (and any other) job possibilities. For example, if you can fix cars, is that affected by fatigue? Probably not, as long as you're not doing it 8 hours a day and can rest as you need to.

Is fixing cars affected by bone and joint pain? Probably, because fixing cars takes some manual dexterity and strength. So while you may be able to fix some things on a car, you may not be able to fix others.

Is fixing cars affected by vertigo? Absolutely. You should not be around any kind of motors or machinery if you are subjected to bouts of dizziness.

Can you fix cars if you have migraines? Sure. After the migraine is over.

Do you see how this works? If you make a list of what you think you can do, then list your limitations and judge the list of the "possibles" in light of the limitations, you'll come out with a realistic sense of what kind of job you might be able to do, and how many hours a day or a week you might be able to work.

In another part of this section under "Your Health Care," I told the story of dealing with relapsing mononucleosis for ten years. I was already a business owner when I got sick, so what I did that first year, and quite often thereafter, was I subcontracted out the work I could no longer do. Two very great guys still tell stories of coming to my house, finding me flat on my back on the couch, rattling off an entire "to do" list for them for that week's tasks to fulfill for clients. It was what was in my head that counted; there were plenty of people who could carry out the physical tasks for me, and who were plenty glad for the work.

III. Volunteer Work It may sound strange, but it's true that one of the best ways to recover from your own difficulties is to reach out and help others. Perhaps you would be willing to help other veterans who are also ill; perhaps there's a local scout troop that could use your assistance once a week, or once a month. Maybe there's an elderly person on your block who never has company. Maybe there's a sick kid down the block who could use someone to talk to.

It almost doesn't matter what kind of volunteer work you do. There's a great saying to keep in mind: "Give what you have. To some one, it may be better than you dare to think." (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Is there a volunteer center in your community? Give them a call. In reaching out, you will be giving yourself a lifeline.

Sometimes, those volunteer jobs lead to paying jobs. If you are volunteering in an area which gives you purpose and joy, chances are very high that you are doing an excellent job - and there are never enough excellent people around to do various jobs. In addition, the people you meet will know about other jobs in the community, and can keep their eyes and ears open on your behalf.

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Disability-Related Employment Resources
The U.S. DOL Office of Disability Employment Policy
Job Links gives information on employers who have indicated interest in recruiting and hiring qualified individuals with disabilities for open positions within their company or organization. Employer Assistance Referral Network is a free nationwide service connects employers with job placement professionals who can identify qualified candidates with disabilities for their job openings - in the company's geographic area.
Anixter Center
Anixter Center is one of the Chicago area's largest human services agencies serving people with disabilities. The Center operates a broad range of employment programs for people with disabilities - everything from professional-level placement to job coaching and supported employment in the community.
Bender Consulting
Bender Consulting Services, Inc. (BCS) is a for-profit, Pittsburgh-based Information Technology consulting firm that focuses on employing IT professionals with disabilities.
Building Careers in Design
Building Careers in Design offers Web Resources written by and for people with disabilities about the fields of design and careers in design. The goal is to get more people with disabilities working in fields of design regardless of their disability. Everyone is invited to explore these resources, including career seekers, vocational counselors, service providers, potential employers, and family members.
Career Fair Productions
Career Fair Productions is a leading career fair organizer, specializing in diversity and technology events.
Career Resources Corp
Career Resources Corp is a non profit training and employment agency for individuals with disabilities.
Customized Employment Fact Sheet
Fact Sheet on Customized Employment - This fact sheet by T-TAP and ODEP answers frequently asked questions about Customized Employment.
disABLEDperson.com launched its recruitABILITY site, which provides online, targeted recruiting site that effectively connects proactive employers with job seekers with disabilities.
Diversity Employment Solutions
Diversity Employment Solutions is dedicated to helping employers increase diversity in the workforce, using a resume database targeted to minority, disabled, and women professionals. DES is free to the jobseeker and is seeking job applicants, both nationally and internationally.
DiversityDirect is a career assistance program and multi-ethnic employment resource that lists career opportunities with the nation's leading employers. Clients are committed to hiring individuals from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.
Diversity Services
Diversity Services is an employment service dedicated to assisting corporations and organizations in the management of DIVERSITY in the workplace.
EmployABILITY Network
The Employ ABILITY Network was created by the City of Los Angeles Community Development Department, in conjunction with the Los Angeles City WorkForce Investment Board, to provide up-to-date information about career development strategies and job accommodations for persons with disabilities.
Employment Tips
The Job Accommodation Network has developed a resource list for those seeking employment opportunities. This list contains tips for finding employment.
eSight Careers Network: Comprehensive Resources About Disability & Employment
The eSight Careers NetworkTM features networking, forecasting, and skill building opportunities for those dedicated to lifelong learning and believe they are responsible for managing their own careers.
Federal Jobs for People with Disabilities
Jobs resources related to Schedules A and B, which are the federal government's hiring options for people with disabilities.
Goodwill Industries of Western Connecticut, Inc.
Goodwill Industries of Western Connecticut, Inc is dedicated to providing individuals with disabilities and others barriers to employment the services and support needed to achieve economic independence.
Goodwill Toronto
Goodwill Toronto's mission is to provide quality skills training and outcome-focused, job-related programs to people who face employment barriers.
Providing top quality services and networking opportunities, HireDiversity links under-represented candidates with Fortune 1000 corporations, government organizations, non-profit and educational institutions, and staffing agencies.
Jobs Unlimited
Jobs Unlimited is an employment agency for men and women with an intellectual limitations.
Melwood is a not-for-profit social service agency since 1963. They are a leader in supporting and empowering individuals with developmental and related disabilities throughout the Washington, D.C. metro area. They create opportunities for personal success by providing fully accredited vocational training, employment, community living, leisure, travel, and recreational services.
National Business & Disability Council
The National Business & Disability Council is the leading resource for employers seeking to integrate people with disabilities into the workplace and companies seeking to reach them in the consumer marketplace.
PEPNet Online
PEPNet, the Postsecondary Education Programs Network, is the the goal of PEPNet is to assist postsecondary institutions across the nation to attract and effectively serve individuals who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
Project HIRED
Project HIRED is a unique non-profit agency that brings together community resources, technology training and business leadership to assist people with disabilities to realize their career potential.
Project Work
Project Work helps people who have an intellectual disability or require extra support to improve their work skills so they can find and keep entry-level jobs.
Resource Partnership
The Resource Partnership's mission is to improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities by uniting employers, rehabilitation and referral agencies, and people with disabilities. Through education and outreach, the organization strives to ensure that every qualified individual with a disability is employed in an environment free of physical and attitudinal barriers that will allow for the greatest level of independence and success.
Social Security Administration's Ticket to Work Program Information Section
This page provides information on the "ticket" provisions of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999. Most Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability beneficiaries will receive a "ticket" they may use to obtain vocational rehabilitation, employment or other support services from an approved provider of their choice.
State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies
This page contains links to web sites for state vocational rehabilitation agencies.
Workforce Recruitment Program
This is a free database resource for businesses looking for qualified employees. The database contains over 1,000 job candidates majoring in a variety of fields. The candidates are top college students seeking summer and permanent positions.
WORKink Manitoba
WORKink is an online resource centre for employment and disability issues.
Founded in 1999, WorkplaceDiversity.com is the source for diversity talent. It is the job search web site for corporate recruiters who want to make a good faith effort to reach experienced diversity talent. The site bridges the gap between companies that support diversity and experienced diversity candidates by providing one central location to post open positions.
This non-profit WorkWORLD Web site offers free software and a Help/Information system that helps people with disabilities use work incentives in Federal Benefit programs such as SSI, SSDI, Section 8 Housing, and Food Stamps to return to work or become more self-sufficient. This is a unit of theSchool of Business and are funded by a number of Federal, State, and local grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements to offer these on the Internet at no cost to users.

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