Care Design NY member Chun began working at Phoenix Rehabilitation and Nursing Center (formerly known as Greenpoint Nursing Home) 20 years ago. Chun started employment through the Lifespire Community Based Employment Program at the nursing home. While there, Chun became so proficient at her job that she was offered a full-time position in 2016. She currently works in the dietary office where she performs administrative duties including answering phones and filling out menu cards for the patients.
Chun continues to make tremendous strides professionally and has worked through various challenges related to anxiety and communication, with support from her Care Design NY Care Manager, Debra, and her job coach. Debra is Chun's conduit for communication between her advocates, job coach, and supervisors, to ensure that she receives the support she needs to foster independence and to be successful in the workplace. Having a circle of support has made a difference for Chun and has helped her to maintain successful and meaningful employment. She regularly receives praise from her supervisors for doing a good job and loves that her employment has given her a sense of independence. Chun's motto is to always do the best that you can.
"I love working at Target as a Cashier. For 17 years, I’ve enjoyed interacting with the Target customers. It gives me a sense of purpose and I’m proud to have been with them for this long. My philosophy is that every person with a disability should be able to work for any company they want to work for! It’s also important that I earn money to support my cats. They depend upon me and having a paycheck allows me to pay my bills. My advice in looking for employment is, it should be something you want to do and interests you."
Robert joined the paid workforce ranks this year thanks to the hard work in the past 5 years to improve himself in every way. His self-improvement path included day habilitation and volunteering to develop skills and experience working for and with other people. This all happened while he and his mother were often without resources including being homeless.
It was at this low point that Robert asked for assistance through OPWDD to secure residential habilitation to keep him safe. He took this courageous step forward without a parent or guardian by his side. For 5 years, he has maintained this supportive housing through Wildwood Programs which helped to increase his self-confidence. It was the stability of a home and people surrounding him with encouragement, that propelled him to the next phase of learning new skills and becoming more independent and self-sufficient.
Through the Wildwood pre-Vocational Program, he has advanced to the SEMP program where he was recently hired by Burlington Coat Factory. Robert loves his job and feels very confident that this new opportunity will provide him with career growth. His goal in sharing his journey and employment success story is to inspire others who may feel that life is just too hard and advancement not obtainable. His inspiring words are,
“no matter what challenges you face in life, you can succeed if you just believe in yourself.”
Bob began his career at the hospital as a volunteer at the age of 14. He has performed every grounds-keeping responsibility for the hospital providing opportunities over the years to learn and do more. Today, Bob drives all the hospital’s major machinery used to maintain the grounds and landscape.
His stellar work has been noticed by everyone and in December 2019, he achieved “Employee of the Month” with a featured story on his award in the Samaritan Hospital newsletter. This also gave him an n assigned parking spot for the month! In a recent visit with the hospital’s cardiologist, he told Bob that he and all of the employees feel he is one of the hardest working people at Samaritan and an inspiration to all.
My son, Vincent, had a crisis last year. Thanks to a good team, including the Care Design NY Care Management team, Vincent was able to resume his employment at the Hudson River Services, a company owned by AHRC. They were contracted to provide janitorial services to the FDNY EMS Academy and Vincent loved going to work and being on that campus. He was very disappointed to have to stop working for almost three months when the pandemic struck and voluntarily quarantined in our home, like millions of other Americans.
Vincent’s work ethic is extraordinary, and he kept asking us when he could go back to work. After almost three months, we felt that Vincent could go back to work even though New York City was not fully reopened. We were confident that his employer was taking all the extra precautions to keep employees safe.
Before heading back into the field, Vincent had to overcome some of his sensory issues, like wearing a mask and gloves for long periods of time and modifying his once rigid schedule to adjust to new procedures in the workplace. He was fully aware of the danger of the pandemic but was willing to make any necessary adjustments to get back to his job. A big challenge he faced in returning to employment was wearing a mask and gloves throughout his shift. The essential Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) makes him very uncomfortable due to his sensory issues. But Vincent took the safety requirements very seriously and practiced wearing a mask and gloves at home for one week prior to returning to work. Each day he increased his practice time of wearing the PPE from a half hour to up to five hours, just like he would do during his work shift. He also needed to change his routines, like not taking the bus, skipping dinner while at work, drinking bottled water instead of tap water, and so on. Thankfully, Vincent was able to overcome difficulties that some people on the autism spectrum often encounter - sensory sensitivity and rigid routines. His motivation to be back doing what he loved empowered him to conquer these obstacles!
On his first day back to work, we came upon a ceremony for a recently retired 30-year FDNY employee, who had been there for over thirty years! I asked Vincent if he wanted to take a picture in front of the firetruck parked in front of the ceremony and of course he was glad to do so. I think we both hoped that one day we could be back in the same place together celebrating his retirement after 30 years of service at a career he loves. That would be a dream come true for both of us!
Since he began working, I can see Vincent’s confidence grow leaps and bounds. I believe he has realized that one day he could support himself, have a meaningful career and live on his own. He started by working 15 hours per week, but one month later, his manager gave him more hours because they saw his desire to learn. Now, he goes to work every day with a smile on his face. I am so proud of my son and how far he has come.
For Vincent and our family, this pandemic does impact our lives in many ways, but it could not stop us from pursuing our dreams. Vincent may not be able to verbally give career advice for fellow young men and women on the spectrum, but his actions and persistence speak out for him. If you can protect yourself, we all can overcome this pandemic together. However different the world may look right now, Vincent's actions tell us to not let the pandemic stop you from doing what you love and from following your dreams!
Please share these real life stories of workers with disabilities, and we’d love to hear your story!
8 Southwoods Blvd
Albany, NY 12211