In My Words
My name is Sarah Armour and I am the Business Assistant at JJ's List, Search's newest social enterprise. I manage the jjslist.com Disability-Aware Business Directory. I communicate with businesses by phone and email. I manage the bookkeeping, coordinate the jjslist.com Disability-Awareness Trainings, and I organize the JJ's List - Pace suburban bus "Hop on the Bus to Independence" program for schools and organizations in six Chicagoland counties. I also am a dedicated mentor to volunteers and co-workers!
Oh. And I have a disability. I use support for processing information, learning and self- organizing. I sometimes use a job coach to help me do my job in the most productive way possible.
I began at JJ's List as a volunteer because I wanted to be involved with an organization that helps individuals with disabilities advocate for themselves and others. I next became an independent contractor because JJ Hanley saw I had the skills and work ethic JJ's List needed. That was the first time in my life that I felt like I had abilities that someone needed instead of me needing help.
Part of my job is talking about my disability and being a self-advocate for others and myself. I would love to say this is the easiest part of my job, but in some ways it is the hardest. It has almost been the most growing experience of my life. In school I was always a verbal self-advocate when it came to the services I needed. I thought that when I became an adult that my disability would go away. It didn't, and now I know that I will always need to self-advocate for the support I need. I think in order became a true self-advocate one must truly embrace their own disabilities. Getting to know all the Search staff members has made it easier to let my guard down and has made me think of my disabilities as assets rather than a challenge. This past week I presented to 30 human resources professionals at Wintrust corporate headquarters, along with my colleague Nicole Heimdal. We are working with Wintrust and North Shore Community Bank to help them do a better job of hiring people with disabilities.
I am honored to be part of the Search family. Not only does Search provide services to people with disabilities, but they are giving me the support to be best worker I can be. It means a lot to me that Search is walking the walk of employing people with disabilities. When I first met the Search staff I thought they were going to think, 'Why is she working here?' This is partly because I never thought of myself as a professional. But, when I interact with staff I feel like I am just one co-worker interacting with another co-worker and we are on equal footing.