Connections - 10.31.23

A Dose of Happiness from John’s Crazy Socks

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October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (#NDEAM), a celebration of the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities, past and present. It is a time to highlight supportive, inclusive employment policies and practices that benefit employers and employees.

This year’s theme, chosen by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, is “Advancing Access and Equity.”

What Does This Mean for People with I/DD?

The benefits of competitive integrated employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) include better psychological and physical health, improved economic outcomes, increased sense of control, self-determination and personal independence, improved quality of life, and increased community integration.

Despite the benefits of competitive integrated employment, it is estimated that only about 18% of working-age adults with I/DD are employed. Those who are employed typically work limited hours in entry-level positions, earn low wages, and have limited access to employee benefits. Many worry about losing critical Medicaid benefits due to their earnings or when their savings exceed federal Social Security limits.

Unfortunately, people with I/DD often struggle with finding meaningful employment. This was the case for John Lee Cronin, who decided to create his own job based on his love of unique socks. How did this happen? John was in his last year of high school, where he studied retailing and customer service. He had to figure out what he’d do for work and wasn’t happy with the employment options available to him. Instead of taking a job that didn’t align with his interests, John leveraged his love of unique socks and co-founded John’s Crazy Socks with his father, Mark.

The company was founded in 2016, is committed to providing meaningful employment for people with I/DD and donates 5% of earnings to the Special Olympics. But John and Mark’s advocacy for people with disabilities doesn’t end there. They traveled to Capitol Hill, encouraging federal legislators to support a bill that’s been introduced to raise the SSI asset limit from $2,000 to $10,000. According to Mark, “More than half our colleagues have a differing ability, and the vast majority are receiving SSI. This has a profound effect on their lives. Our colleagues often must choose between work and benefits because if they work too many hours, they lose their benefits.”

If passed, the bill would allow people with disabilities an “opportunity to achieve financial independence and more effectively work, earn, and save for their futures,” said Mark.

Why is This Such a Big Deal at IntellectAbility?

When IntellectAbility sought a unique way to market its products, John’s Crazy Socks was a perfect fit. “At IntellectAbility, we recognize the importance of meaningful employment for people with I/DD and knew, when we were looking for a unique item to give away at conferences, that purchasing custom-designed socks highlighting our company logo would be a great hit. We also wanted to support a company whose mission aligned with ours”, said Dr. Craig Escudé, President at IntellectAbility.

According to John, when you purchase his product, “You’re not just getting a pair of socks, you’re getting a dose of happiness.” Visit the company’s website to learn more about John’s Crazy Socks.

Lorene Reagan is the Director of Public Relations at IntellectAbility.