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Tony Evers, Governor
Amy Pechacek, Secretary-designee
Department of Workforce Development
201 E. Washington Avenue
P.O. Box 7946
Madison, WI 53707-7946
Telephone: (608) 266-3131
Fax: (608) 266-1784
KENOSHA – Ever since it opened in 2013, the South Kenosha Festival Foods store has worked closely with Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DWD/DVR) to recruit and ensure workers with disabilities are successful. One such employee, Mercedes Echols, has grown so much in her bagging duties that she has regular customers who line up in the checkout lane where she's working.
Because of its diverse and inclusive hiring practices that welcome individuals with disabilities into its workforce, Festival Foods Kenosha today was recognized as an Exemplary Employer with an award signed by Gov. Tony Evers.
"Gov. Tony Evers and his administration have made it a priority to ensure that individuals with disabilities can access a full range of choices and opportunities when it comes to living and working in Wisconsin," said DWD Deputy Secretary Pam McGillivray, who presented the award to store leaders. "Wisconsin employers hiring people with disabilities aren't simply helping someone get a job; they are changing lives – the lives of those they employ, their family members, and of others in their community who see the work employers are doing and start believing that they can also be a part of something great."
At any given moment, DVR is working with 15,000 individuals around the state who are preparing themselves or ready to join the workforce. In Program Year 2021 alone, over 2,000 employers hired 3,500 consumers as a result of working with DVR.
The award is presented as Gov. Tony Evers has proclaimed the month of October Disability Employment Awareness Month in Wisconsin to highlight businesses that recruit and hire people with disabilities and encourage other businesses to provide opportunities for this skilled, dedicated and capable workforce.
National Disability Employment Awareness Month began 77 years ago in 1945, when Congress passed a law focusing on the first week of October. In 1988 Congress expanded the week to a month and selected the name National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Each year a theme is chosen by the Office of Disability Employment Policy under the U.S. Department of Labor.
The recognition event at Festival Foods in Kenosha featured remarks from DWD Deputy Secretary Pam McGillivray, DVR Director Susan Chandek, store Guest Services Manager Shauna Conn and other representatives from Festival Foods, DVR and the Kenosha Achievement Center.
Wisconsin employers are encouraged to contact DVR and meet with a DVR Business Services Consultant who can connect them to no-cost services that will help recruit qualified workers with disabilities, build staff diversity, retain well-trained employees, and access workforce planning resources.
Individuals with disabilities looking for assistance finding, keeping, or getting a better job can contact DVR at 800-261-0050 or learn more and apply for services at the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation website.
Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development efficiently delivers effective and inclusive services to meet Wisconsin's diverse workforce needs now and for the future. The department advocates for and invests in the protection and economic advancement of all Wisconsin workers, employers and job seekers through six divisions – Employment and Training, Vocational Rehabilitation, Unemployment Insurance, Equal Rights, Worker's Compensation and Administrative Services. To keep up with DWD announcements and information, sign up for news releases and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.