HARRISON COUNTY, W. Va. (WDTV) - According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics West Virginia is one of the states with the highest unemployment rates for individuals with disabilities.
'I don't like to say that I owe Job Squad, but I saw how it helped me and I want to give other people that opportunity,"
Currently, Zach Sandy is the information systems and facilities manager for Job Squad, a private non-profit that matches people with physical and mental disability with career matches.
But a handful of years ago, it was Sandy that needed job squads help.
"Seven years ago I was struck by lightning and went through a very lengthy recovery process, and when that happened I struggled finding a job," Sandy said
And when Sandy did eventually find a job, he ran into issues when they couldn't accommodate to his needs.
"I was working somewhere and there was an issue with me having to sit down every now and then,"
Then, Sandy heard about Job Squad.
"Somebody told me about job squad and I applied, and they gave me a position as a custodian," Sandy said "While working there, they understood, that I couldn't walk as well as other people, I was still in the recovery process,"
Sandy worked as a custodian for the nearby FBI facility, which contracts with Job Squad to make positions available to disabled individuals seeking jobs.
As Sandy continued his recovery, he returned to school, which led him to working for the organization that helped him get his start
"I starter going to school for information technology, and while I was doing that a position opened up for the office, I applied and got that position"
Travis Kline, the director of operations at Job Squad, says that West Virginia specifically this type of job placement service is desperately needed.
"It's really specific to our state," Kline said "West Virginia has the highest unemployment rate for people with disabilities across the nation, I think it's 19.8% unemployment rate,"
To help encourage further education, Job Squad has started a scholarship fund.
"We distribute $1500 to an individual with a significant disability to go to school, a trade school, a regular college, anything to help them further their education," said Kline
And as they continue their work, they plan on partnering with more local businesses and organizations to expand the opportunities
"People with disabilities are as much a part of our community as everybody else and should have as much opportunity as everyone else as well,"