October marks the annual observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). NDEAM commemorates the many and varied contributions of people with disabilities to America’s workplaces and economy. The theme for NDEAM 2021, “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion,” reflects the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
At Cognosante, the theme, “Powered by Inclusion,” resonates with us not just this year, but every year.
As a technology company dedicated to breaking down barriers to healthcare and human services for underserved populations, our innovative thinking and transformational technology solutions help government change the lives of many Americans for the better, including Veterans, the military, seniors, under-resourced families, people with disabilities, and others.
But, removing barriers can be accomplished by more than the work we do. Through our wholly owned J.Lodge subsidiary, we help make it possible for individuals who have disabilities to have meaningful careers and unlock the tremendous talents that they possess.
With the spirit of celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month in mind, we asked members of our J. Lodge team to tell us about J.Lodge’s origins, their personal stories about the meaningful work they do and what it’s like to be part of a workplace community that lives the core value of inclusion.
We first asked Christy Wilson, Vice President of Field Operations with J.Lodge to tell us more about the story behind J. Lodge.
Mike and Kolleen Schrider founded J.Lodge in 1999. The two created an exceptional employee model that focuses on hiring Americans with disabilities. J.Lodge has always been committed to serving this often unnoticed, yet incredibly talented, segment of the population.
The name, J.Lodge, was created in honor of a young man, Jackie Lodge, who Mike met while performing mission work. Jackie was diagnosed with cerebral palsy soon after birth. While his physical condition deteriorated over time, his intellect remained strong. Mike and Kolleen were drawn to his remarkable abilities and fostered a long-term relationship with Jackie. This mission has continued in his honor.
How does J. Lodge make it possible for individuals with disabilities to use their talents to create or expand meaningful careers?
We’re committed to fostering an inclusive environment that encourages and supports a diverse workforce. J.Lodge’s work model is structured so that our flexible schedules, work from home environment, and assistive technology allow qualified individuals the opportunity to begin and grow a career here. We’re proud to ensure that all people, including people with disabilities, have an equal opportunity when it comes to economic self-sufficiency.
We also spoke with J.Lodge team members about their employment experience. Here’s what they had to say...
Tell us about what brought you to J.Lodge, and why you chose to work for the company.
Staci Carter, Quality Analyst: I applied to J.Lodge because I needed to work for a company that would understand the limitations my disability presented. I also wanted to expand my skill set and I felt like this company would be the perfect fit.
What kind of mentoring and support does J. Lodge offer to its employees?
Shae Belt, Team Lead: My managers have been a tremendous help in attaining my current role—encouraging me to work hard and providing support when I made the transition. J.Lodge also provided ongoing mentoring support to ensure that I was prepared to manage a team.
Gisela Vazquez, Quality Analyst: The IT team is amazing. If I have trouble with my screen reader, for example, they are quick to troubleshoot and provide a workaround. The support I receive from them helps make me successful in my current role and provides the confidence I need for possible advancement opportunities.
Thanks to all of our J.Lodge colleagues for sharing their stories for this article.
Cognosante’s mission is to support the health, safety, and well-being of Americans who serve the nation and providing assistance to those who need it most. Learn more about the impact we’re having by empowering citizens with disabilities to enjoy life’s experiences and the dignity of self-sufficiency.