• Kelli Munn

Networking, Setting Goals Pay Off for Lowe

FSACentral is proud to once again celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month by featuring people with disabilities who are out in the workforce.

Name: Oliver Lowe

Hometown: Orlando

Employer: Hope’s Closet, an upscale resale store supporting the ministry of Church of Eleven22 in Jacksonville; previously with AmeriCorps.

Position: Retail Clerk

Length of time at current job: 1.5 years.

Orlando native Oliver Lowe used networking and volunteering to land his current position at Hope’s Closet, a resale shop in his current home of Jacksonville. Lowe aspires to work in full-time Christian ministry some day so he jumped at the chance to work for a church-affiliated organization. While working for AmericCorps, Lowe started volunteering at Hope’s and was soon offered a position. Under-employment is a systemic problem for people with disabilities but Lowe was able to use his experience and skills to find a higher-level position in an area that aligns with his long-term career goals. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” he said.

What is the best advice or encouragement you’d give to a fellow self-advocate about accessing or keeping employment?

Find something that you enjoy doing. It shouldn’t seem like its work to stay there. You should be enjoying what you’re doing, at least 75 percent of the time.

What advice would you give employers about hiring a person with a disability?

I would say to not put any limits on them and on what they can do. There may be small limits if they need modifications but if they don’t, don’t limit them.

What’s the most important employment-related challenge you face as a person with a disability?

I really haven’t had any. It did take me awhile to find employment but other than that I haven’t experienced any.

How should we be advocating for better employment opportunities and practices in Florida?

We need to get more people starting the advocacy process for themselves in the workplace to let employers know that we can do these things – we need to advocate on the job as we go.

Which agency was the most helpful to you in accessing and maintaining employment?

Lowe was fortunate to acquire his current position through networking and volunteering at the store while he was with AmeriCorps. But he is a graduate of the University of North Florida's On-Campus Transition Program where he received education about acquiring and retaining employment.

In your opinion, how does employing a person with a disability help their quality of life?

It affects their quality of life by the fact that it gives them the feeling they are doing something good -- they’re leaving their impact on society. It gives us a feeling that we’re impacting something, that we have a greater purpose.

FSACentral would like to thank Oliver for his time and thoughtful answers.

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​© 2020 Florida Self-Advocacy Central

Florida Self-Advocacy Central is the news and information arm of Florida Self-Advocates Network'D or FL SAND

FL SAND and Florida Self-Advocacy Central are projects provided by the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Inc., supported in part by grant numbers 1801FLBSDD, 1901FLSCDD-01, and 2001FLSCDD-01 from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.