UNCG Facilities Operations has been honored with the Employer of the Year Award from the Greensboro Mayor’s Committee for Persons with Disabilities. The award honors and spotlights the university’s commitment to offering employment opportunities to people with a variety of abilities.

Ada Baldwin, assistant director of UNCG Facility Services, accepted the award. Baldwin oversees the 120 housekeepers who maintain the university’s classroom and administration buildings. Of those at least four have some kind of disability, Baldwin said.

Her experience working with people with disabilities dates back to 2006, when she was contacted about working with students with disabilities and other challenges from Smith High School.  “A school bus would transport the students from Smith to UNCG. When the students arrived, they would  partner with one of our staff members,” Baldwin said. The students gained valuable work experience in housekeeping. “They could say ‘I’ve been in the workplace and I have a skill.’”

In recent years,  Baldwin has worked with the NC Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, helping to pair qualified people with jobs that met their skill sets. Facility Operations employs three staff members referred from this agency. Two are temporary employees; the third is a permanent, full-time employee.

“One of the things the agency does is screen,  train and pair their staff with jobs that meets the needs of employers,” Baldwin said. “The secret is we’re all people. We all have our own limitations. Individuals with disabilities are often looked down upon because their disabilities may be more visible. We all must remember we each have our own limitations on how we learn and perform different tasks.

“You have to look at people with disabilities as people. Say ‘What is it that you can do?’ and not focus so much on what you can’t do.”