PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — October is Disability Employment Awareness Month, and on Friday a Philadelphia non-profit honored companies that hire individuals with challenges, as well as those employees who have overcome them.

Diagnosed with autism, 21-year-old Bilal Jackson has dreams for his future.

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“I want to be a dog groomer,” says Jackson, smiling.

He was honored Friday at JEVS Human Services Strictly Business Awards at the Sheraton Hotel downtown.

“I’m feeling excited,” he says.

Jackson graduated from JEVs Project Success program, which taught him how to get a job and fit in. Now, he’s a utility worker at Sodexo at Temple University and has been for more than a year. But this is just his first stop.

“I’m saving my money to go to college,” he says.

Bilal Jackson (L) with Joe Cipolla at JEVS Human Services's Strictly Business Awards. (credit: Cherri Gregg)

Bilal Jackson (L) with Joe Cipolla at JEVS Human Services Strictly Business Awards. (credit: Cherri Gregg)

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“We work with people with disabilities, refugees, we work with people who have been long term welfare recipients,” says Joe Cipolla, Director of Employer Services at JEVS. “About 65 percent of our people are with the company more than six months. if you think about entry level positions- that far exceeds what company’s retention rates are.”

Business honorees include AC Linen Supply and Allan A Myers.

“We have a company culture where we try to do well by doing good,” says Eric Goldberg, co-CEO of AC Linen Supply, a commercial laundry company that operates a facility in Philadelphia on Bartram Avenue.

“JEVs helps vet the employee and then works with us to help us make a position that fits with the person’s strengths or skill set,” says Goldberg, “if they success we succeed.”

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