Like other service agencies in metro Atlanta, Hi Hope is working to find new jobs for clients.
In April, the Bobby Dodd Institute began sending trainers to companies such as Mirant and the Alston & Byrd law firm to teach free seminars on employing the disabled. Alston & Byrd recently hired one institute client, he said.
Many companies don't know what to expect and wonder about the cost of accommodations, such as wheelchair ramps or a special keyboard, McMillan said. Some require no accommodations. Those that do, cost about $500 on average, a study by the institute found.
Rosalie Chamberlain, diversity manager at Alston & Byrd said the seminar helped its human resources department refresh information and its thinking about hiring the disabled.
McMillan said there are advantages to hiring the disabled. They hang on to jobs longer, even in businesses where there is high turnover, as in a restaurant.
"A job means a heck of a lot more to them," he said.
Frank Harris, 31, got trained at Bobby Dodd Institute. He went to worked six years ago at a Panera Bread near Emory University.
He said he had one job before. The help he got at the institute prepared him to find a better job and become independent, he said. He has a mental disability.
His manager, Frank Duty, said he realized that it is a tough job market for the disabled.
"But I would take Frank over 99 out of 100 people that come in the door here," he said.
"He works hard. He works fast. I can count on him to be there in the long term."