One of my friends has a sweet grand-baby with cerebral palsy and just today I saw the pictures of this little darling touching her toes for the first time. I got a little teary reading about the joy of this accomplishment, something most parents can count on as a milestone with their infant, and yet a remarkable moment today for sweet Noa.

You probably don’t know this, but it’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month and JACE Real Estate is being honored for employing a disabled person. And while I am thrilled and touched to receive this honor, I am more thrilled and touched that our company gets to shape the life of a person simply by being a good employer.

Disabilities come in all shapes and sizes. I have a friend, my next door neighbor Julie, who I must be mindful of because my small annoying dog loves to race forward like a rocket across an entire meadow to bark at Julie’s dog Rusty who is a service dog because Julie is in a wheelchair.

Now Rusty could flatten my own dear pooch with one paw, but instead, Rusty stands back, keeps a safe distance, and guards his mother from the small white barking nuisance. And while I realize this makes me sound like a bit of a bad neighbor, my dog keeps a safe enough distance and mostly obeys my commands to go home, yet the deeper truth is that both Rusty and Julie have taught me to a bit more patient in my day-to-day living.

When Julie and Rusty come down our narrow road, I’m happy to back up fifty or a hundred feet to let her pass since clearly the smaller vehicle, Julie’s wheelchair, must be kept safe, not just a practical safe distance in my opinion but a safe distance that a service animal agrees is a safe distance.

A few times Julie has contacted me just as one of my guests arrived asking me to remind my guestsDisability blog pic to drive more slowly on our road. This reminder has helped me to see the world through her eyes which is at the height and speed a wheelchair allows.

Julie wears a T-shirt that reads: Attitudes Are The Real Disability. Truthfully, the first time I met Julie she told me about her career not her disability, and I’ve socialized with her at dozens of community events and parties and so I actually don’t ever think of her as a person with a disability, it’s just not in my mind.

And so thank you Julie and Rusty for slowing me down and teaching me another perspective, and thank you Clallam County for encouraging and honoring the employers and employees who believe a good work ethic and a lot of heart are all you need to succeed in life and in business.

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