National disability employment awareness being observed in October

Press release from North Carolina Department of State Treasurer

While many businesses across North Carolina are struggling to find workers in the COVID era, some Asheville employers have landed reliable employees whose intellectual and developmental disabilities don’t slow them down. State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA, will be in Asheville on Friday to recognize three of them.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and Treasurer Folwell will be at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College to raise awareness of the NC ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Program. The NC ABLE Act was signed into law in 2015. It allows individuals living with disabilities and their families to contribute to tax-advantaged savings accounts. Those accounts can fund essential disability services without endangering means-tested eligibility for benefits such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income.

Treasurer Folwell chairs the NC ABLE Program Board of Trustees, which oversees more than $13 million in assets for nearly 1,500 account holders. The money grows tax-free and can be used for qualified disability expenses such as housing, cell phones, adaptive equipment, transportation and virtually any other item that will help to provide a better life experience.

Treasurer Folwell will explain the benefits of the program with the help of three NC ABLE account holders: Alex Brown, Jasmine Calhoun and Annie Hetherington. Alex works in the deli section of an Ingles grocery store, and owns his own business, Popcorn Boss. Jasmine works at Old Navy and navigates public transportation to get to and from work. Annie works in housekeeping at a local hotel and helps to keep common areas clean.

A-B Tech is the host site for Project SEARCH, a transition-to-work training, job placement and coaching program operated by The Arc of North Carolina. The program has a 93% employment rate and assists disabled participants to develop independent living skills. Annie and Jasmine graduated from the program.

Following the NC ABLE event, Treasurer Folwell will meet with executives of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce at 11 a.m. to present them with a check for missing funds totaling $6,111. The event will take place at the Chamber offices, 36 Montford Ave., Asheville, and media representatives are welcome.

The money is being issued through the NC Cash program managed by the Department of State Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Division (UPD), which is required by law to safeguard unclaimed property until the rightful owners claim it. During the past fiscal year a record $70.4 million was returned. There are approximately 17 million properties in the UPD database valued at roughly $919 million. While reviewing records UPD staff identified the unclaimed assets that belong to the Asheville Chamber.

What: NC ABLE Participants Recognized During National Disability Employment Awareness Month
When: Friday, Oct. 1, 9:30 a.m.
Who: N.C. Treasurer Dale Folwell; NC ABLE Participants Annie Hetherington, Jasmine Calhoun and Alex Brown; Representatives of The Arc
Where: A-B Tech, Hemlock Building, 207 Victoria Rd., Asheville

What: Unclaimed Property Check Presentation to Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce
When: Friday, Oct. 1, 11:00 a.m.
Who: N.C. Treasurer Dale Folwell; Chamber Executives
Where: Chamber of Commerce offices, 36 Montford Ave., Asheville

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