Jobs For Disabled Youth

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Finding just the right job can be difficult for anyone.  It’s even harder for the 53 million Americans with disabilities.  A Texas woman who saw the problem in her own family is now helping others find jobs—and find the road to independence along the way. Reed Galin reports.

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Debby Puckette knows a job means more than a paycheck … a lesson she learned working with her son who has autism.  Finding a place for a young disabled person to work was nearly impossible.

Debby Puckette: “They’re falling through the cracks when they graduate from high school.”

This prompted Puckette to take control and start “Real Jobs for Youth”… filling a gap left by other agencies.

Debby Puckette: “The average age that goes to these agencies is 30.  What happened to the youth?  Where are the youth?  Well, they’re on a waiting list.”

Puckette is a United Methodist who relied on faith when she launched her agency two years ago in Longview, Texas.  She networks with employers to find jobs and helps clients with transportation and training.

Debby Puckette: “I feel very, very passionately that, yes, all people have value.  And that if you can get across to me ‘Yes, I want a job’ then there’s something out there for you.”

After months of searching, Mark Puckette landed a job at a department store distribution center.  He’s saving money to attend an arts college.

Mark Puckette: “That’s my future plan, is to visit the art school and to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts.”

Takes phone call: “Sports, this is Toni.”

23-year-old Toni Phillips works part-time jobs at a local newspaper and a telemarketing company.  She dropped out of school in the 10th grade because a learning disability made it hard for her to understand math. 

Toni Phillips : “I was just at home, watching TV, relaxing on the couch, and not really doing anything with my life.”

Now Phillips is working toward her high school equivalency degree and preparing for nursing courses.  She says working has given her independence and new hope for the future. 

Toni Phillips: “I’m able to, you know, take one step at a time, day by day, to reaching my dreams.”


“Real Jobs for Youth” now works with a dozen young people.  Debby Puckette says employers can get tax credits for hiring workers with disabilities.  But she says the real reason for hiring them is because they can do the job.

To learn more about this story, see Jobs program helps fill gaps for youth with disabilities.