As National Disability Employment Awareness Month draws to a close, the success story of an individual who embodies the spirit of NDEAM has been highlighted by Goodwill of North Georgia. Despite being born deaf, DeAndre Gaskins has never allowed his disability to prevent him from achieving his goals. Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, DeAndre is known for his resilience, adaptability, and determination to achieve both personal and professional success, according to his friends and family.
In 2021, DeAndre was referred to Goodwill of North Georgia through a job readiness program. Although he was deaf, this was not a barrier to him being hired as a groundsman at the National Archives of Atlanta through a Goodwill partnership, despite having no prior work experience. DeAndre has been employed with Goodwill for the past two years and credits the organization for recognizing his independence and motivation to work, and for creating a supportive, inclusive workplace.
Site Supervisor Greg Mathis of Goodwill Industries of North Georgia describes DeAndre as trustworthy, honest, and committed to achieving his goals, with excellent organizational skills and the ability to remain focused. DeAndre’s coworkers appreciate his patience when dealing with the hearing and his willingness to teach them sign language. They have created a safe space for him to be free to fully do his job with the independence he needs, providing him with the flexibility and support he requires to overcome work challenges. DeAndre has even taught his coworkers short sign language phrases, achieving personal growth in the process.
Goodwill of North Georgia has been providing strategic employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities for more than 30 years through securing federal contracts through the AbilityOne Program. Within the organization, 3 percent of employees identify as people with disabilities, and over the past three years, the organization has served more than 5,635 people with disabilities. Goodwill of North Georgia believes that inclusion drives innovation and that inclusive workplaces are better.
DeAndre expresses his gratitude to Goodwill of North Georgia for not only being a great employer, but for providing him with a sense of normalcy despite his deafness. For more information about Goodwill’s efforts to support people with disabilities, visit www.Goodwillng.org.