Enable America Praises Progress Energy's PRIDE

St. Petersburg, FL, June 29, 2011 --(PR.com)-- Speaking on themes of tolerance, empathy, and confidence, Enable America founder and CEO Richard Salem urged advocates of people with disabilities to continue to push forward as they work to improve employment opportunities for a segment of the population that faces unique challenges in a difficult economy.

“There’s a good solid 18 million with life-altering disabilities of some sort that are capable of participating in the American Dream, capable of involvement in their community, capable of involvement in the workplace,” Salem said as he addressed employees at Progress Energy in St. Petersburg. “Most of whom, 70 percent or more, are not, they’re on the sidelines.”

Salem was the guest speaker at Progress Energy’s “Lunch and Learn” event, sponsored by the company’s employee network group PRIDE (Progress Inclusion and Disability Education). Progress Energy is a supporter and participant in Enable America’s programs that improve employment of people with disabilities.

“I do think that the work of PRIDE throughout the company, here and in North Carolina and elsewhere, is very, very important work,” Salem said. “It centers on one of the foremost concerns that we as Americans have on our minds today, and that’s jobs.”

Salem took the occasion to refer to lessons he learned in dealing with his disability, having lost his sight as a teenager in North Carolina. He says he grew to understand that dealing with a disability means education for both the person with the disability and those he lives and works him.

“How to manage that disability so that those around you are comfortable with you, and are comfortable with seeing past your disability and into the world in which you are participating is very important,” he said.

Progress Energy Vice President of Distribution Jackie Joyner introduced Salem, praising the efforts of both PRIDE and Enable America.

“I want to thank Enable America for their partnership,” Joyner said in his opening remarks. “We’ve actually had several sessions with Disability Days, where people come in and spend time with us, and we’ve enjoyed our time with those individuals, I think as much as they’ve enjoyed time with us.”

Enable America’s Career Mentoring Days match work-ready people with disabilities, including disabled veterans, with employers committed to strengthening and diversifying their workforce. Other programs include Enable America’s Job Seekers Workshops where people with disabilities improve their job seeking skills by working one-on-one with human resource professions. In addition, Enable America’s VetConnect program is dedicated to enhancing rehabilitation programs for wounded war fighters by matching them with peers, helping those warriors acclimate to civilian life, or redeploy when they are ready.

A common theme to all these programs is bridge building, making connections between job seekers and employers, between people with disabilities and the able-bodied population.

“It does take cooperation, it does take bridge building,” Salem said. “As we work in our world in bringing people with disabilities into the community, into the civic and social realm world, bringing them into the workplace, the bridge building is very important. Tolerance, empathy, confidence, those intangible factors make a big difference in each of our lives.”

In closing, Salem urged PRIDE members to continue their efforts, and not be afraid to step out of their comfort zone.

“Taking that step, going to that bridge outside of your comfort zone, is very very important,” he said. “The confidence you gain over a period of time, does make a difference, in working with people with disabilities, and people managing their situations. Don’t wait, take those steps right now.”


About Enable America: Enable America was established in 2002 by attorney Richard Salem as a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities find employment and live independently. The organization’s Community Connections, Business Connections, and VetConnect programs unite members of the disability community and business community to raise awareness and increase employment opportunities for millions of Americans with disabilities, including our nation’s wounded warriors.
Enable America
Chris Jadick