Read about how we have helped people with disabilities gain the skills they need to succeed in the workplace and are assisted in finding good jobs.
Ashley Roy is friendly, outgoing, and has a positive attitude, but her learning disability made it hard for her to find the right job.
Thanks to her own hard work and a unique program created by Easter Seals and CVS, however, Ashley now has a job she loves.
Called Train with Me, the program gives people with disabilities the opportunity to attend CVS pre-screening interviews and New Colleague Orientation Register Training Classes. This way, Easterseals clients can test their job skills and CVS can see if they would be good candidates for employment.
CVS is a longtime Easterseals partner that has hired many people with disabilities. After she attended classes, CVS hired Ashley to work at their Porter Square store in Cambridge. Since then, store manager Robin Brennan has been supportive of Ashley and is working closely with Easterseals to help her succeed on the job.
Ashley, 29, is better organized and has made good progress in learning the store layout. “I always help customers, no matter what,” she said. “And my coworkers are so nice. They always help me. They really make me feel welcome.”
But Ashley still has a ways to go. She finds it difficult to follow verbal directions and organize her work, and she is challenged by new tasks or changes in routine, according to Easterseals Employment and Training Services Manager Nancy Mader.
Even so, CVS and Easterseals are committed to helping her succeed.
“Easterseals is definitely one of my favorite partners,” said Roneline Singh, CVS Region 2 Learning Center coordinator. “They’re quick to respond, the communication lines are always open and they always follow up. The trainers tell me they love having Easterseals clients as students in their classes.”
Easterseals services Ashley received were made possible by a partnership with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.
The work experience and leadership skills Jesse gained through Easterseals are a big part of who he is today – and who he is becoming.
“They were the starting blocks,” he said.
Jesse, 24, is hard of hearing and legally blind. In his work at Easterseals summer camp, he developed his leadership abilities and picked up skills he uses today in his job at a Big Y supermarket.
At camp, Jesse helped start a program to teach American Sign Language to the campers and staff. At work, he offered to help his manager, Clara Alves, learn sign language to better communicate with him, customers, and other employees who are hard of hearing.
As a thank you for what he has gained, the Springfield resident has spoken at public events as an Easterseals ambassador. He also served as a team captain and volunteer at Easterseals Walk With Me fundraisers.
“My youth leadership experience made me more aware of how people perceive me on the job,” he said. “As a result, I’m more aware of my moods and the importance of being focused, positive and helpful.”
Public speaking – including a talk with his congressman – also changed him.
“I was mostly shy and soft-spoken, but the experience helped me speak up and sound confident,” he said. “It also makes me feel powerful to be up there talking about what I believe in and helping others see things the way I do or persuading them to do something.”
On the job, Jesse has a wide range of duties and has gained the respect of his fellow employees.
“People go out of the way for Jesse because he goes out of his way for them,” Alves said. “He’s dependable, cooperative, quick, and productive; he gets along well with customers and takes his job seriously. He’s a great person.”
“I like problem-solving and being part of a team,” he said. “My goals are to do the best I can, learn to do things differently, and make a difference.”
When Kristen of Wakefield needed help finding a new job, her Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission counselor directed her to the Easterseals Career Skills Training program in Boston.
First, Easterseals specialists worked with Kristen to determine her workplace skills and what she wanted to do. Next, she was trained and became very proficient in the latest Microsoft Office software programs. She also attended job-readiness workshops, where she learned how to provide excellent customer service, work as part of a team, demonstrate leadership, write impressive cover letters, and master interviews.
Kristen was a little outside of her comfort zone in some of the workshops but she never gave up.
A few months after her training ended, Easterseals arranged an unpaid internship for Kristen at Third Sector New England, an organization that helps nonprofits involved in community service and public life.
Kristen’s disability makes her uncomfortable in new situations but once she settles in, she shines.
In fact, Kristen did so well in her internship that she was hired as a part-time marketing associate within three months. A short time later, she applied for and won a permanent part-time position with additional responsibilities. She now works on press releases, media relations, and social networking projects.
“From her very first day, Kristen has been an important contributor to our team and organization,” said Jackie Cefola, a nonprofit center program manager at Third Sector New England. “She diligently balances our department’s many immediate needs with our long-term objectives. She accomplishes every task with a high level of skill and an enthusiastic attitude. She is a real pleasure to work with and we feel very fortunate to have her on our team.”
Cefola called the Easterseals internship program “a huge win-win for our organization.”
“By working with our intern, we were able to access free office assistance to immediately get things done quickly and efficiently,” she said. “We were also able to prove a need for long-term help and we were extremely lucky it worked out that our intern could join our team as staff.”
Kristen also is happy with the guidance she received from Easterseals. “I can't thank Easterseals enough for all of the help, advice, and support,” she said.
The services Kristen received were made possible by a partnership between Easterseals and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.