Prelude to National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month Mayor Salutes Lighthouse and Walgreens for Hiring People with Disabilities

Citing their efforts in providing jobs for people with disabilities, The Chicago Lighthouse and Walgreens were saluted by Mayor Emanuel during the One Summer Chicago (OSC) Recognition Breakfast on September 26.

Through our Youth Transitions Program, two outstanding Lighthouse participants, Rupa Elizabeth Sprecher and Me’lia Jackson, both visually impaired, were hired by Walgreens this past summer and worked in customer service. This effort was done in partnership with the Mayor’s OSC Youth Program.

The Youth Transitions program helps young people, ages 15-24, realize their true potential by learning the social skills necessary to find gainful employment and support themselves. The program, which debuted last year, has three key components: the First Jobs Program, Summer in the City, and monthly Saturday Seminars. These offer students instruction in areas like job readiness training, financial responsibility, basic life skills along with paid internships. All aspects of the program are tailored to address the students’ individual needs and abilities.

OSC paid the wages of Rupa and Me’lia while The Lighthouse covered the costs of the other students enrolled in the First Jobs Program.

In her state-of-the-agency remarks this past summer, Lighthouse President and CEO Dr. Janet Szlyk thanked Walgreen’s for stepping up to the plate and providing employment for Rupa and Me’lia. She strongly encouraged other Chicago area companies to follow their lead and hire more people with disabilities.

Dr. Szlyk further stated that The Lighthouse provides a wealth of free life-altering services encompassing such areas as assistive technology, mobility training and job training and placement that can help individuals coping with vision loss better prepare for and ultimately secure employment.

She added that we also can provide technical assistance and training to companies considering hiring people with disabilities.

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