ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Erik Hoary has completed 10 years of work with the Northern Illinois Goodwills. A milestone he achieved while in the non-profit’s assisted employment program for those with disabilities.

Erik has cerebral palsy, but that hasn’t stopped him from going to work.

“So I’ve been working here pretty much on day one since the store opened,” Erik said.

This opportunity gives those with disabilities a chance to get real work experience.

“I sort the different toys and books that we get,” Erik said.

Alana Subleski, a Job Coach at Goodwill, works with Erik as well as all the others involved in the “Let’s Go to Work” Program.

“I just assist with anything that they might need their work skills,” Subleski said. “They do a lot of books scanning and rejecting books and I just kind of and they’re on the sideline if they have any questions. A lot of them are all independent too, and I’m just there for guidance.”

Alana also helps find job opportunities for the employees elsewhere, even going to interviews.

“I know that working with people with disabilities it’s challenging and not everybody’s accepting in the outside positions,” Subleski added. “So if a job is available and I can help them, then it just warms my heart.”

Those in the program, organize books, movies, and other stuff around the store. They can work greeting customers or in the donation center. Erik spoke about how he greets customers.

“Yeah, like I said, I’ve always go to ask is there anything I can help you with. And are there anything like are you looking for anything specific kind of thing?”

“The next week when they come in for their shift and they don’t even have to ask me what they’re doing and they just say, Elaina, you know, I’m going to go do this new skill. Even if it’s something simple like greeting guests. Just the excitement and the independence that they gain from that is so overwhelming and it warms my heart so much,” Alana said.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Goodwill is just one opportunity in the area to where those with disabilities can have these job experiences. To learn more just visit their website.