“We Look At Their Abilities, Not Their Disabilities”

(WREG-TV) Some people with physical and mental disabilities live independently and work fulfilling jobs.

In north Mississippi, there’s a place where these individuals can get the training and skills they need to pursue jobs in the community.

DeSoto Industries is this week’s Bright Spot.

It’s a typical day on the job at DeSoto Industries in Hernando, but the people working here aren’t typical employees.

Each person here has overcome some physical and mental hurdle.

“We don’t limit them to what others’ expectations are. We look at their abilities, not their disabilities.”

Operating under the North Mississippi Regional Center and the State Department of Mental Health, DeSoto Industries provides pre-vocational and employment training programs.

“Our goal is to make sure that those who are willing to work, want to work, can work, that we get out there and help them do that.”

DeSoto Industries secures contracts with local businesses to outsource work, like light kits that are being assembled for a lighting company in Collierville.

They’re looking for more opportunities to put people to work outside of DeSoto Industries.

Jessica Beasley wants to be a paramedic, and possesses one quality every employer appreciates.

“Being a good team player.”

Now that more businesses are looking at hiring individuals from DeSoto Industries, the training is more specific.

“We get an opportunity to take them into a business and shadow some of the employees there to give them the opportunity of the real world environment.”

Betty Laws says the people they train are dedicated to working hard. Their jobs give them a sense of purpose, help them build self-esteem and allow them to earn their own money.

But the program only works if the community supports it.

“Open their hearts and minds and not see disabilities, but see abilities.”

It takes just minutes for workers to assemble these kits, but the skills they’re learning can set them up for a lifetime of fulfilling work.