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Nashua Organization Provides Employment Opportunities to Individuals with Disabilities

By Kelly Church

Dedicated to enrich "communities by connecting local employers and individuals with opportunities to succeed," Opportunity Networks helps people with disabilities connect with potential employers.

The Nashua, New Hampshire company wants to work to reduce the stigma associated with those who live with disabilities every day. One way they do that is by taking a personal approach to their business. They get to know each person, focusing on getting them the right training in areas they're interested in and connecting them with all the right people.

"Individuals with developmental disabilities face many challenges in life and have had the misfortune of being born with their disability and with that disability there is no cure," Rocky Morelli, Executive Director at Opportunity Networks, says. "Even in 2016, individuals with developmental disabilities are labeled, stigmatized and devalued. Society as a whole lacks an overall understanding of what it means to have a developmental disability."

Morelli says the key to creating a more understanding society is through education. She says education begins with inclusion in schools. Students gain a broader and clearer understanding of what disabilities are and the challenges that people with developmental disabilities face each day. This is the gateway to removing labels and stigmas.

"In today's society, it is hard enough for individuals without a disability to find employment, let alone a person with a disability," Morelli says. "Opportunity Networks Inc. supports some of the states most vulnerable citizens: those with Down Syndrome, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Traumatic Brain Injuries, the deaf community and other developmental disabilities."

Opportunity Networks wants to connect individuals with disabilities with members of the community for a mutually beneficial working relationship. Opportunity Networks believes that hiring people with disabilities can greatly improve a business, citing that 85% of people surveyed said they'd be more likely to do business with a company that hires individuals with disabilities. This brings huge value to a company. Additionally, Opportunity Networks provides work-related training, relieving companies of that added cost.

"Our focus is not just on helping individuals find genuine vocational opportunities and achieve gainful employment within their community, we also provide a variety of services which support individuals in achieving their employment goals including job seeking, work assessment, on the job training, school-to-work and pre-employment training."

"What makes Opportunity Networks different is that we take the time to understand each individual," Morelli says. "We aim to discover what individuals are interested in so that they can share that passion with others, establish new connections and interact socially with others who share the same interests. We provide opportunities that will allow individuals to learn, grow and be successful."

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