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UN Programme on Disability   Working for full participation and equality

International Day of Disabled Persons
3 December 1998

International Day of Disabled Persons, 8 December 1998Panel Discussion on
Independent Living of Persons with Disabilities
(United Nations, 3 December 1998)

New Approaches to Work Around the World.

Extract of statement by Mr. Rex Davidson, Executive Director, Goodwill Industries of the Greater New York Area

Panel Discussion Excerpts:

The activities of Goodwill Industries ( around the world are based on a set of Core Values and respond to certain Challenges.

Core Values:

  • Every Person has value.
  • Work adds meaning and purpose to life.
  • Every person should have the opportunity to work!
  • There is dignity in all useful occupations.
  • As Dr. Martin Luther King has observed, "If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well."

Our Challenge:

  • Create a world where all people are given the opportunity to work based on their abilities … nothing else. "A chance, not charity", Dr. Edgar Helms (founder of Goodwill Industries). - Eliminate barriers for all people. - Create independence, not dependence.

Our Strategy:

  • Encourage equal opportunity legislation similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act of the United States in all countries [in which Goodwill Industries work].
  • Insure that education and job training is equally available to people with disabilities.
  • Stimulate economic activity resulting in job creation.

Activities of Goodwill Industries International (GII) and creation of a new non-profit corporation called Global Goodwill, Inc. (GGI).

  • The mission of GGI is to encourage and support the development of effective organisations, strategic business alliances and innovative collaborations to create training and employment opportunities for persons with disabilities and other barriers to [their] employment. GGI may also offer services and operate enterprises that will assist in the accomplishment of this mission.
  • "GGI will focus on strategic alliances with corporations, non-governmental organisations, foundations, and Governments. It is enterprise-based and entrepreneurial in nature.
  • "… it is critical to articulate how we will measure GGI's success - not by the former international standards of how many associate members we have but rather the number of people throughout the world who receive vocational opportunities who otherwise might not have received such benefits.
  • "… the GGI role seems to be one of matchmaker/facilitator and a developer of global collaborations.
  • "By June 2002, the time of the Goodwill Industries' Centennial Celebration, Goodwill Global, Inc. will have provided directly or through relationships with other entities, work opportunities for 10,000 people with disabilities or other barriers to employment who live outside of the United States and Canada."
  • GGI's strategies include:
    • Promoting industries run by and for people with disabilities.
    • Pursuing projects with industries that could include special recruitment and placement efforts, enclaves, contract work, employment opportunities with special supports, among other measures.
    • Supporting temporary [employment] agencies that specialise in [working with] people with disabilities (for instance, "Good Temps").
    • Promoting [small-scale] cottage industries and small businesses that are run or owned by people with disabilities.
    • Supporting people with disabilities who work from home utilising computer technology. Computer technologies may allow many individuals with severe physical disabilities to work productively.

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United Nations, 2003-04
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Division for Social Policy and Development