Raising awareness about disability employment
Raising awareness about disability employment
Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month
Each October, People Inc. joins countless agencies across the country in celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), a campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and acknowledges the many and varied contributions of American workers with disabilities. The theme of this year’s campaign is “Inclusion Drives Innovation” – a slogan that, we at People Inc., believe in strongly. It is this very mindset that inspired the development of our Vocational Services in 1986, and we have been striving ever since to support people with disabilities in training, preparing for, securing and maintaining employment.
All month long, we’ve been highlighting the accomplishments of workers with disabilities who receive our services and the inclusive businesses that have hired them as valued employees. This newsletter includes just a few of the many success stories we have seen over the last year.
Want to join People Inc. in raising awareness? We invite you to spread the word on Facebook and Twitter by using the hashtag #NDEAM to encourage those around you to be inclusive in the workplace. Happy NDEAM!
L-R: James Kuzon and Steve Waterman.
Photos by Tom Wolf, courtesy of the NFTA
Carpet Cleaning Done Right at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport
In 2015, People Inc. launched the Carpet Cleaning Done Right enterprise, offering carpet cleaning services for commercial, business, government and residential locations, while providing employment opportunities in an integrated job setting for people with disabilities.
Today, the enterprise’s success has grown to include a wide range of residential and commercial clients, including the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA). After a rigorous Request for Proposal process, People Inc.’s Carpet Cleaning Done Right enterprise was awarded a contract from the NFTA to provide carpet cleaning services in the carpeted areas of the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
Three nights a week, each week of the year, the Carpet Cleaning Done Right crew cleans the carpets in the gate areas of the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Here, chronicled in photos, is a behind the scenes look at their process.
To learn more about Carpet Cleaning Done Right for your home or business, call 716.817.5750. Carpet Cleaning Done Right is fully insured and provides free estimates.
L-R: Joe Knospe and Jimmy Healy
Brady Corporation Finds the Right Fit
Facilities Helper James Healy, better known as Jimmy, is one of the kindest and most dedicated employees to work for the Brady Corporation. According to his supervisor, Joe Knospe, there is no better fit for the job than Jimmy. “I couldn’t ask for a better employee,” Joe said. “Everybody loves him!”
But finding the right person for the job wasn’t an easy task. The Brady Corporation is an international manufacturer and marketer whose products, including high-performance labels, signs, safety devices, printing systems and software, help customers increase safety, security, productivity and performance. At their 125,000 square foot facility in Amherst, Joe was in desperate need of a facilities helper. For months, he worked with the Vocational Department at Southeast Works, a division of People Inc., to find an employee. “It’s the same with any position, sometimes you have to try a few times before you find the right fit.”
And that perfect fit was Jimmy. When Jimmy began over a year ago, Joe worked with him for the first few months to coach him through the job responsibilities, including collecting materials and garbage from the production floor and breaking down cardboard boxes. Thanks to the vocational training he received from Southeast Works, Jimmy believes he was able to pick up the tasks quickly. But the best part of the job, he says, is the people.
“The people here are really cool, and I have a lot of friends,” he shared. He sits with a handful of coworkers every day during lunch and breaks, and invited everyone to his birthday party last year. They had a blast, and Jimmy plans to do the same this year, too.
Joe is so proud of Jimmy, and actively works to incorporate people with disabilities into the Brady Company any way he can. He knows firsthand the rewards it brings, both to the employee and company. His advice to other businesses looking to do the same, “Be patient.” It may take time to find the right person, he says, but it’s worth it all in the end.
Herb Kuhl
DiPaolo Family Provides Tradition of Support
For more than 25 years, the Ilio DiPaolo family has supported People Inc.’s mission through generous contributions. They have provided the agency tickets that allow program participants to experience sporting events and they have donated a portion of the proceeds of their annual golf tournament to the People Inc. Foundation for more than 20 years.
Perhaps most influential of all is the DiPaolo family’s involvement with our agency’s Supported Employment Program. Since 1994, the family, which owns a successful restaurant and banquet facility in Blasdell, NY, has been a great example of an inclusive employer. Two People Inc. program participants currently work at Ilio DiPaolo’s Restaurant and are treated like family. Herb Kuhl has been a reliable worker for 15 years, prepping the kitchen space and washing dishes. Matt DeRosa, newer to the program, has been employed by the restaurant for about a year and assists co-workers with washing dishes.
The two gentlemen are both valuable staff members for the restaurant and are productive workers. “It may not be common for someone to stay at the same job for consecutive years,” said Tina Polito, program director, People Inc. Supported Employment. “However, we find that to be the case for our employees who work at Ilio DiPaolo’s Restaurant, along with many other employers who support our program.”
When asked why their restaurant got involved with the Supported Employment Program, Dennis DiPaolo who co-owns Ilio DiPaolo’s, shared, “Our family was brought up to give back to the community.” The restaurant staff is understanding and respectful of Herb and Matt. “People Inc. is an outstanding organization that helps a segment of our community that is deserving of our support. I encourage businesses of all kinds to give back and get involved with People Inc.’s Supported Employment Program to find loyal and hardworking staff,” said Dennis.
Often times, people with developmental disabilities may benefit from routines and repetitive tasks, which makes the food industry just one type of business that is well-suited for our Supported Employment Program.
To learn more about how you can partner with us to employ people with disabilities, contact our Vocational Services Department at 716.817.5750.
Local Businesses to be Honored at NDEAM Awards
People Inc. is proud to work with nearly 250 business partners who believe in the importance of hiring individuals with disabilities. On October 25, area businesses who have exhibited dedication to an inclusive workforce will be honored at the NDEAM Business Recognition Awards, hosted by the Western New York Employment Consortium. Two of the awardees were nominated by People Inc.’s Vocational Services team, and we’re proud to share their stories:
• Part of the Lockport School District, Charles Upson Elementary School has been a wonderful employer for Mary Cavagnaro, who obtained the job through People Inc.’s Employment Training Program and is now part of our Supported Employment Program. From April 2016 to the end of the 2016 school year, Mary worked as a substitute lunch monitor at the school. She enjoyed her job, but inconsistent work hours posed some difficulties. Eager to make sure Mary’s job was as fulfilling for her as possible, Principal Jennifer Gilson met with Mary and her employment specialist over the summer and, together, they developed a permanent position for Mary as a lunch monitor during the following school year. Each month, Mary, her employment specialist, Principal Gilson and some of Mary’s co-workers, met to review her progress. As a team, they discussed her strengths and provided constructive feedback so that Mary could continue to grow and expand her skill set. Thanks to Principal Gilson’s accommodations and the support of Charles Upson Elementary staff, Mary continues to hold a job she loves as an integral member of the school’s community.
• Erie Community College (ECC) has been an exemplary employer for Cory Stoczynski, who, since October 2013, has worked as an intern in ECC’s transportation office with the Dean of Students through People Inc.’s Supported Employment Program. Cory is responsible for doing much of the data entry for the office, including database creation and logging student bus passes by identification numbers. He works three days a week and supervisors have been pleased by how quickly and accurately he completes his projects. The staff at ECC is very supportive of Cory, openly communicating with him and his employment specialist regarding work performance and addressing issues whenever needed. In June 2017, Cory received a President’s Recognition Award from ECC President Jack Quinn as one of his final acts before retiring. Quinn considers Cory one of ECC’s “best workers of all time.”
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Join our Team
People Inc. has exceptional opportunities for numerous career paths, whether you are looking to work part-or full-time. If you or someone you know wants to become a valued direct support professional (i.e.: group home worker, instructor), our upcoming Open Interview Event would be a great chance to learn more. It will be held on Wednesday, October 25, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at our agency’s recruitment office, 692 Millersport Highway, Amherst. People Inc. is actively recruiting for people seeking life-changing careers to work as a direct support professional, registered nurse or licensed practical nurse. Attendees will have the chance to learn about People Inc. and interview on-the-spot with a recruiter. No appointments needed. Applicants are encouraged to bring copies of their resumes, dress professionally and be prepared for an interview. Can’t attend? Apply online.
Become an Employer
People Inc. is seeking new businesses in Western New York and Rochester to employ individuals with disabilities. We also help companies create jobs around an individual’s talents and interests. Hiring a qualified person with a disability brings greater benefits beyond just filling an open job. There’s a solid business case, too. Here are just a few of the benefits of hiring people with disabilities:
Return on Investment: Businesses that employ people with disabilities turn social issues into business opportunities. These opportunities translate into lower costs, higher revenues and increased profits.
Marketing: Customers with disabilities and their families, friends and associates represent a trillion dollar market segment. They, like other market segments, purchase products and services from companies that best meet their needs. A large number of Americans also say they prefer to patronize businesses that hire people with disabilities. Another of the benefits of employing people with disabilities is increasing your opportunity to gain a lasting customer base.
Innovation: This is a key component to your business’ success. Employees with disabilities bring unique experiences and understanding that transform a workplace and enhance products and services. As part of your team, employees with disabilities help build your business and can lead your company into the future.
To learn more about how you can partner with us to employ people with disabilities, contact our Vocational Services Department at 716.817.5750.
(Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy)
Your generosity throughout the year ensures that people with developmental disabilities, special needs and seniors receive the services they need. To make a donation, click here. Often times, friends and family wish to remember someone through a memorial or acknowledge a special event, such as a birthday or anniversary. The People Inc. Foundation accepts gifts of caring and honor requests in a sincere, dignified manner. We appreciate your support!
Providers Needed for Perfect Fit Program
People Inc.’s Perfect Fit Program, a unique residential setting for people with developmental disabilities, is enlisting additional providers throughout Western New York. The program provides people an opportunity to become certified providers and open their homes and their lives to people with developmental disabilities. Provider applications are now being accepted, particularly from people living in Niagara County and the southtowns. To learn more, click here or call Carrie Grant, People Inc. Perfect Fit program director, at 716.345.6161.
Support an Event
Seniors and their families who are looking for affordable housing are encouraged to attend the People Inc. Pine Senior Living open house in November. Apartments are for independent seniors age 62 and over who are income eligible. Two benefits of People Inc. Pine Senior Living are the affordability and safety features. Apartment tours will be provided. Attendees will have a chance to win a $25 gift card to the Fieldstone Country Inn Restaurant in Lockport, NY.
When: Tuesday, November 14, from noon to 5 p.m.
Where: People Inc. Pine Senior Living, 6231 Tonawanda Creek North, Lockport, NY
Info: Call 716.433.3381, registration encouraged
Get Social with Us!
People Inc. news, program updates, fun photos and events are included on social media. It’s a great way to stay updated! Follow us on various social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.