Bob Mike, NAFTA IS, Speaks on Individual, Government and Business Responsibility in Employment of People with Special Needs

NAFTA IS Chief Information Officer Greg Babe, accepted the 2002 "Power of Work Award" from Goodwill Industries on behalf of Bayer Corporation, at a reception in Pittsburgh's Carnegie Music Hall on October 25. Bayer was selected for the award from among 54 nominees, for its development and implementation of a corporate-wide strategic plan that provided for the recruitment of and competitive employment for people with disabilities who specialize in information technology.

Bayer was also recognized for its efforts, through a partnership with Bender Consulting, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and Community College of Allegheny County, in founding the Pittsburgh Disability Employment Project for Freedom which developed an information technology training program specifically for people with disabilities, that to date has graduated 79 students. The program has a 65 percent retained employment rate.

"Organizations and initiatives like these, and like Goodwill Industries, are good examples of what we can accomplish when we bring together the minds and hearts of people from all spheres, public and private, and work collaboratively to address issues," said Greg, in accepting the award.

Bob Mike, NAFTA IS Analyst in Pittsburgh, was one of the featured speakers at the event. In his remarks, Bob emphasized the need for people with special needs to rely on self-initiative, personal responsibility and assertiveness in securing employment.

"But personal responsibility and government assistance are only part of the equation. We need the participation of concerned businesses and companies, like Bayer Corporation, to provide employment to those individuals who groomed themselves painstakingly to meet the qualifications necessary for gainful employment," said Bob.

Bob came to work at Bayer through Bender Consulting of Pittsburgh a firm that specializes in training people with disabilities and placing them in jobs. According to Rudy Rosnick, his supervisor, Bob is a productive and valuable member of the team and has a very positive attitude.

Goodwill established the Power of Work Awards in 1997 to recognize employers who make a major, positive impact on the lives of people with barriers to employment by offering them the opportunity to earn the self-esteem and self-sufficiency that come with having a meaningful job. Three other Pittsburgh area businesses, received the award: Pittsburgh Marriott City Center; Sweetwater Personnel; and UPMC Health System.

Goodwill Industries of Pittsburgh and its affiliates employ nearly 900 persons, making it one of the largest and most diverse social and human service organizations in the region. Through its services, the agency helps people overcome barriers to employment and become independent, tax-paying members of their communities.