Marketing: “The activity set of institutions and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” – Wikipedia

When I was looking to join NEBA after getting to know my current supervisor, I was impressed by how NEBA emphasizes something not often seen in our non-profit, human services world: Marketing. The concept of marketing is not just used in the business world to obtain greater profit, it is also used to help forge mutually beneficial partnerships between businesses and non-profit organizations.

When NEBA started its push  into the great state of Connecticut almost two years ago, one of the things we did to build our foundation was join various chamber and networking groups around the state. We started with the Metro Hartford Alliance, the Greater New Haven Chamber, and the Chambers in Cheshire, Manchester and Waterbury. We are also members of similar organizations in Massachusetts such as the Greater Springfield Chamber. Each of these chambers present monthly events that our staff are assigned to attend. These events are specifically for networking and relationship building. The general message that we try to put forth at these events includes:

  • Economic Development.  In my previous post I spoke about this at length. In summary, NEBA is bringing economic development to the communities we serve by helping people gain employment, in turn requiring less assistance from state and federal resources. We also contribute economically to our communities by hiring full-time staff to help with our ever-growing organization in Connecticut.
  • Community.  We appeal to the people we speak to that we are trying to help the people we serve to eventually become independent and achieve personal succes.  By hiring these individuals, regional businesses are serving the community they live in.
  • What are their needs?  By attending these  monthly events we build relationships with companies and try to find out what needs they may have. By building these relationships, we can help them fill those needs and in turn find employment for our individuals.

A lot of today’s business world is impersonal. We at NEBA continue to believe in the power of face to face, human interaction. This is why we seek out networking events and one-on-one personal connections with the various businesses that are members of these chambers.

– Timothy J Blonsky, Senior Employment Specialist, Connecticut Team


Another Reason Employment Matters

I felt ill and in disbelief when I read the recent article about a three-year-old girl with intellectual disabilities allegedly being denied a life-saving kidney transplant from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Because of her disability, this girl’s young life was not seen as having value and therefore she was not being given the right to live. Sadly, I have heard similar stories far more than I want to acknowledge. 

You may be asking, “so what does this have to do with NEBA and employment?”

In my opinion, employment brings equality and improves the quality of one’s life. Working demonstrates intelligence, commitment and contribution. In addition to the monetary reward, working gives us purpose and defines who we are. Lastly, working brings opportunities to develop friendships and relationships, all of which bring value to our lives.

 The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is alarming. Nationally, only 21% of individuals with disabilities are participating in the workforce, 16% of which are currently unemployed. 74% of individuals with developmental or intellectual disabilities who are receiving services are in congregates or segregated programs. This leaves these individuals more vulnerable to public policy decisions, funding cuts, a chronic life of poverty, and in some cases not valued enough to have the right to live.

We can change these statistics, but we need to act now. Legislators need to stop funding segregated models of service and use funds to assist more individuals enter the workforce on their own terms and become contributing, equal members of their communities. Employment First models need to be adhered to, providers need to be diligent and not be satisfied developing jobs that offer minimal hours, and individuals and their families need to be educated about their choices and how employment can make a difference in improving the quality of their lives.

– Jeannine Pavlak, Executive Director, NEBA

The Power of Your Vote

As we consider the outcome of Iowa’s January caucus and the New Hampshire primary, the noise of the 2012 presidential campaign continues to grow. The critical point to remember in the election process is your vote matters.

Add to that the vote of family members and friends and your vote grows in importance exponentially. Your one vote is now many votes. This happens when the issues and how they affect your rights are understood.

Now is the time to know what benefits and issues matter to you.

Have you considered the number of benefits you presently receive and what might change in your life if they were changed?

Do you know how your elected representatives voted on bills that affect you and your family?

There is time between now and the fall elections to learn how candidates have performed in the past and who might be the best candidate going forward. Your local newspaper reports on the voting record of candidates. This information is also online. Save this information so that you can learn the trends or regular voting patterns of your elected officials.

On what committees do your legislators serve? Do these committees affect you directly?

Present conditions might be so discouraging or confusing that not voting seems to be the best solution. If a person chooses not to vote they  have no right to complain about a legislator’s voting record or the situation in general.

While it may seem very early to be having this conversation, it is a conversation worth having at any time. Understanding the issues takes time. Starting now will give you, your family and friends time to better understand what the candidates support. Then you can make an informed vote.

The presidential election fills much of the media’s attention. Often the information focuses on the candidate’s behavior, their past, rather than current issues.  Media focus on party affiliation can also hide or confuse what the candidate(s) really endorse.

State and local issues are important and not always featured in the media. It requires time to find this information and learn how it connects with the national issues.

Where to start? First, are you a registered voter? Go to your local municipal office and see if you are registered to vote. Once you have registered to vote, read local papers regularly, watch the news and discuss your questions with others. Be informed. Encourage others to do the same.

The quality of your neighborhood, your community, your state and your country may depend on your vote. It is a powerful right and responsibility.

Listen to and read about the candidates during the next 10 months. This is time enough to become an informed voter. And be sure to vote.

Colleen M. Moynihan,  M Ed. CLU, CMFC
Director, NEBA Business Development Center

BRS Work Evaluations: Helping Without Hiring

Have you ever felt like you wanted to help someone in need so much, but just didn’t have the means to do so? Maybe it was a phone call from a charitable foundation looking for a donation, and bills need to be paid. Perhaps someone needs their car towed, but you don’t have a AAA membership to lend out. Sometimes, people want to help, but don’t think they can. This happens quite often when I am meeting employers in communities across Connecticut. So many employers recognize the talents and strengths of people with disabilities. Many of them want to help in some way, but due to budget constraints, slow business, etc., they find themselves in a tough spot. Thankfully, NEBA, in partnership with the Connecticut Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) is here as a resource for employers who want to help, but can’t hire.

BRS is a federally funded vocational rehabilitation program that is overseen by the Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS). Funding is received from the US Department of Education, the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). Most states have their own federally funded vocational rehabilitation programs (Massachusetts’ is the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), with whom NEBA also partners), though the services given and terms used vary by state.

BRS uses work evaluations to help job seekers determine whether or not a chosen career path is an appropriate choice. They are also used for agencies like NEBA to determine whether or not a job seeker has the necessary skills to perform tasks efficiently and to an employer’s benefit. Evaluations typically last 40 hours and are completed within a two or three-week period. A NEBA job coach is present for all or most of the work evaluation (determined before the evaluation begins). At the end of the evaluation, employers are asked for feedback, which is put into a report completed by NEBA consultants and submitted to BRS. The job seeker is paid for the hours worked, but not by the employer! BRS pays NEBA the consumer’s wages, along with a premium to cover the job seeker’s liability and worker’s compensation, and the wages (equal to Connecticut’s minimum wage) are paid to the job seeker.

That’s right. Any employer offering to help a BRS job seeker complete a work evaluation gets:

    • 40 hours of work completed at their business
    • A NEBA job coach to assist with any issues that may arise
    • The great feeling of helping someone enter or re-enter the workforce
    • All wages, liability and worker’s compensation paid for

…and all at absolutely no out-of-pocket expense!

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? I hear it all the time. It’s the real deal. NEBA and BRS confidently send job seekers to companies for work evaluations because many hours have been spent meeting with the job seeker, finding their interests, skills and talents, barriers and challenges, all before employers are even contacted. When I contact businesses to talk about work evaluations, I do so knowing that the job seeker will benefit that employer for the 40 hours they work for them.

Obviously, our ultimate goal at NEBA is to place job seekers in permanent positions on company payrolls. Work evaluations are a first step for BRS job seekers to showcase their skills, and are a great way for employers to get involved, especially those who want to help, but just can’t hire. Work evaluations are all about developing partnerships with businesses to help put people to work.

If you’re an employer in Connecticut who is interested in helping a job seeker with a work evaluation, feel free to contact us. Regional contacts are below:

Employers from other states may contact their respective state’s Department of Social Services for information on their state’s vocational rehabilitation programs and services.

-Ryan Aldrich, Senior Employment Consultant

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