MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — October is Disability Employment Awareness month, a designation meant to celebrate the contributions of disabled workers across the country.
SOS Care, a nonprofit organization based in Murrells Inlet, works to empower those with autism and intellectual disabilities to thrive on their own. A social skills club, mental health counseling and employment services are just some of the services the group provides.
Their care encompasses all ages from 2 years old and beyond.
The team at SOS Care works to get people with disabilities into the perfect job and then stays with them every step of the way.
“We really help individuals with the pre-employment process, filling out applications, interviews, and then even on the job,” said Adam Law, employment coordinator at SOS Care. “Then our hope is that we can actually fade out and we don’t have to be there anymore.”
Law said the nonprofit works to encourage the community to support people with intellectual disabilities.
“So many times in the community people think that individuals with disabilities can’t work or can’t be as successful as everybody else,” Law said. “We really love shifting that thought and letting people know that they can. There’s so many incredible skills that a lot of people have that just aren’t shown.”
One way they help is through a customized employment program in which they go into an individual’s home to learn more about them and figure out what skills they have that will match a job. Law said they are often able to “carve out” a perfect job this way.
“We can find something that really matches well for them, and they’re gonna enjoy it,” Law said. “And also maybe take in some work that someone else maybe doesn’t want to do.”
Daniel Lucas is a part of SOS Care’s employment services program. He has been working at Big Air Trampoline Park in park service for more than a year.
“I clean the arcade, sweep the floors, clean up party rooms, I do some cooking, but not that often, but sometimes,” Lucas said. “I love all of it.”
Lucas has learned many valuable on-the-job skills at SOS Care, but he has also learned personal independence skills.
“I earned how to cook on my own, which I love to do, ’cause I love to cook,” Lucas said. “Basically, we are learning to be independent and do things on our own.”
Luas said when he was nervous when he went in for his interview, but Law was with him every step of the way.
“Daniel had an interview on the spot, got the job on the spot, and I think that just made him feel so confident, that I can do anything,” Law said. “He came out really happy, high-fiving, taking pictures and just super excited about it.”
Those moments are special, but Law said a lot of the time, he does not really feel like he is doing anything special.
“It’s funny because it’s just something I love to do,” Law said. “Helping people is a passion. and it doesn’t feel like I’m doing something great.”
Lucas said he has enjoyed all of the time he has spent with SOS Care.
“It’s basically kind of like a dream come true for me,” Lucas said. “I enjoy working a lot, and I love coming to SOS and learning a lot about what I need to do when I get to move out on my own.”
Law said there are things businesses can do to help.
“Just to be super willing. Maybe even advertise that they’re willing to hire people with disabilities,” Law said. “I’ve just seen so many businesses just so happy with the success of people working there.”
He hopes he can spread awareness in the community.
“People with intellectual disabilities are like everybody else,” he said. “Everyone’s got difficulties. Just empowering them a little bit, and just teaching them that they can do more than they think, and then once they find that out themselves, they can do anything.”
Lucas is grateful for his time in SOS Care and the relationships he has built with the team.
“Thank you,” Lucas said to Law. “I’m glad that you guys are here to help me with my support and everything. I learned a lot from you guys, and I love you.”