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When some congregations ordain deacons, they charge them with these words, “Be compassionate to the needy. Encourage them with words that create hope in their hearts and with deeds that bring joy into their lives.” One way that deacons can fulfill this charge is by helping people find employment. With the unemployment rate of people with disabilities between 50 and 85 percent, people with disabilities need special assistance in this area. One evening, my friend John Foster and I talked about ways that churches can help people with disabilities in their search for employment which John has kindly written out. Besides the great ideas from John below, I would add one more: feel free to contact him directly about specific situations.

Talk with the person about his interests and experience/skills. Find out what family and community supports are in place to assist him or her.

Share information about employers and businesses that you are familiar with. As you do so, do not name the person's specific disability so as not to violate confidentiality.

If the person does not have a job developer or another agency person working on employment with him or her, ask if you could help with obtaining and completing job applications.

If he or she has professional help, find out who that person and agency is, and offer to help with contacting employers. Consider offering to act as mentor. Agencies that the person may be involved with include: State Mental Health Services, State Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Services for the Deaf and/or Blind, Private Rehabilitation agencies, Special Education Transition Program (if still in school), to name a few.

Offer to help with transportation if needed. In any community, and in rural communities especially, this is often a barrier for people who cannot drive, or don't have access to public transportation.

Speak with business people in your congregation and community on behalf of the person to find out if they would be willing to meet the person to talk about their company and the jobs that people do there.

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