I want to commend the Bradenton Herald's June 30 article titled "Bradenton man's life impacted by family, friends and ADA" about both Leonzo Gonzalez and U.S. Marine Cpl. Retired Michael Jernigan and their experiences as disabled people in our community. We should all take note of such positive outcomes when basic accommodations and supports are enacted.
Twenty percent of Americans are disabled and taking the elderly population in Florida into consideration as they too need additional support, we have the opportunity to improve the quality of life for many of our citizens by broadening our systems and infrastructure to include their needs.
Everyone benefits when our skills and talents can be expressed and contributed.
I also would like to remind or inform others that though our local Goodwill has helped Leonzo Gonzalez, the larger organization has a dark history of taking advantage of the disabled.
Through the creation of "sheltered workshops," Goodwill and other businesses have paid disabled employees as little as 22 cents on the dollar. They put the disabled person through extended "training," making them (perhaps) eligible for an official job if they can eventually prove their worth. Work is completed, yet equitable payment for those services is denied.
The vice president of Goodwill Manasota, Veronica Brandon Miller, is spot on with her quotes for the article about access, the American With Disabilities Act (ADA), and the simultaneous advantage for both the disabled and larger community.
I hope she champions on the side of the disabled people who work under her, and steers our local Goodwill against further exploiting this marginalized group.
Above all, I would like to thank both Leonzo Gonzalez and Michael Jernigan, for their service, for what they do to contribute in the workforce, and also for the change that their advocacy brings.