One of the joys of any employment program is the palpable sense of pride that participants express when they are given the opportunity to learn new skills and earn a paycheck. It is what motivates us! However, these programs are not only about access to employment. A successful program is rooted in transformational experiences that have a profound impact on the people we serve and their employers in the community. The prolonged success enjoyed by Rosanna, Chris, and Dennis – all participants in the LifeLinks CLASS employment program – warrant recognition.
Just last summer Rosanna reached her five-year anniversary at Merrimack Valley Credit Union. With Ken Masson, her LifeLinks CLASS career coach, and her supervisor Nancy Pierce by her side, she was destined for success. Her responsibilities include coordinating mailings, creating reports or sorting in the mailroom.
Chris has been employed by a local Stop & Shop for nearly four years as a front-end clerk and porter. You can find him collecting carts in the parking lot and making sure the aisles are clear for shoppers. Management has expressed their appreciation for Chris’ work ethic, as he arrives for every shift and dutifully completes his responsibilities.
Dennis has been with Sodexo USA Careers at Merrimack College since May 2018. He spends his time sweeping, cleaning tables and stocking drinks, fruit and other supplies. It would be easy for most people to be distracted in such a fast-paced university setting. But not Dennis. As he tells it, once his apron goes on, he is “in the zone.” In fact, he does his job so well, that management has consistently requested him to be scheduled more often.
These programs are a community-wide effort in Greater Lawrence and Greater Lowell. The employers participating in the program should be lauded not just for their commitment to the LifeLinks CLASS program, but for their commitment to inclusion in their community.
Of course, research and testimonies have shown that employees with disabilities bring unmatched value to the workplace. Michael McGee, general manager at NORDSON Medical, had this to say about their partnership with LifeLinks CLASS, “Diversity is one of the key components of enhancing and expanding our organizational capability. Collaborating with LifeLinks CLASS to identify and place qualified workers has helped us succeed both operationally and in our commitment to our communities.”
Inclusion is at the heart of everything we do at LifeLinks CLASS. We look forward to continually fostering professional independence within our individuals and creating meaningful and lasting connections in our community. Visit www.lifelinksclass.org/employment-services for more information on how to pursue a career pathway or if you are interested in becoming an Employment Services partner.