NORTH CHARLESTON (WCSC) - More than 70 percent of people living with significant disabilities are unemployed. The AbilityOne program is changing that as the largest source of employment for people who are blind or have severe disabilities.
The national program is changing lives in the local community.
"I was a computer tech in Virginia Beach making really good money when Bipolar hit me," says Navy veteran, Anthony Green. "I didn't know what it was, I was really at a peak and I was like whoa, and I went all the way down."
Anthony Green says back then he became homeless, but now he's a line supervisor through the AbilityOne program at Palmetto Goodwill. A federal program contracting jobs to hire people with disabilities.
"Here I am right now feeling where I was when I lost everything at my peak, you know what I mean... I'm happy," says Green.
Green says he's thankful for the opportunities through the program and he's now the first homeowner in his family.
"We hope to get these individuals back into society, give them a chance we believe in giving a hand up and not a hand out," says the Vice President of Commercial Services and Safety and Security at Goodwill.
"We do janitorial, we do warehousing, we do commissary operations and we also do mail room services," says Hughes. "We perform these on military bases."
Green works in the Naval Weapon Station Galley or cafeteria. After performing several positions including a food service worker, cook, and now line supervisor he serves as mentor for newer workers.
"They're just so eager to be a part of something, and I know that feeling," says Green. "It feels awesome when I see those kids come in with a smile on their face."
These jobs reduce the employees use of government entitlements and increases their taxpayer contributions.
"It's also an impact to the family or the caregivers so it allows these individuals to get in the community, interact with other individuals and just build their self esteem," says Hughes.
Employers also receive job certification and training making them marketable employers outside the program.
"They've given me every opportunity I could ask for and I just kept chugging along," says Green.
Palmetto Goodwill is ranked number 9 in commercial services out of a total of 165 Goodwill organizations.
Local companies can also hire people with disabilities through the AbilityOne training program.
For more information on the program: http://www.abilityone.gov/
To get involved at Palmetto Goodwill: http://www.palmettogoodwill.net/ (843) 566-0072