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Feature Stories

Giving the Disable 'A Shot'

From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 16
8/9/2013


By RJ Ross

The city of Long Beach has always been known for being a disabled-person friendly city. It has everything from free access to public transportation, to a Disabled Resource Center founded here in Long Beach as well as one of the best Disabled Student Services at California State University Long Beach. It’s always nice, though, when other organizations follow suit and try to help the disabled community.

There are 69.6 million families in the United States; more than 20 million have at least one family member with a disability. People with disabilities represent the single largest minority group seeking employment in today’s marketplace. The disabled constitute the nation’s largest minority group, and the only group any of us can become a member of at any time.

Considering that it is already difficult for your average person to get a job, a disability can only complicate the situation. And yes there are programs out there to help the disabled find jobs, but when it comes down to it, it is up to someone willing to give that person a chance.

That is exactly what Jay Beeler, publisher of the Beachcomber, did for me. He overlooked my disability and was willing to give me a shot.

“First thought: How can he possibly write with limited use of his arms? But I already knew he could write by seeing his resume and stories submitted. Second thought: How could we accommodate any special needs in our older building, lacking accommodations for the disabled? RJ explained to my satisfaction how he works around obstacles like that,” said Beeler as he reflected on the internship interview.

When I was in high school my dad always told me that when I go out into the working field I’m going to have to sell myself. I’m going to have to prove to the manager or owner that despite my disability I’m an asset to the place.

I’ve gotten used to over-coming obstacles in my life and taking challenges full on. But some of my biggest challenges in life are small things the everyday person takes for granted, like drinking water or changing clothes.

Beeler says that was his exact thought when he decided to give me a shot. “This is an amazing person who has faced his challenges head on and performs better than most persons not having any disabilities. It should prove to be the most rewarding internship ever as RJ makes everyone appreciate activities of daily living that most of us take for granted.”

I just take every obstacle or challenge and make it my next stepping-stone in my path to success. I would like to thank Jay and everyone at the Beachcomber for helping and giving me this shot.

rj@longbeachcomber.com