Valley Gives 2014, Where will you donate?

Valley Gives 2014, Where will you donate?.


Valley Gives 2014, Where will you donate?

A car accident can forever change your life. In 2011, a month before the accident an 18 year old was named crew chief of a landscaping crew. He had moved away from his family to start to build a life for himself. He hit an earthen embankment at 45 miles per hour breaking his back in three places, placed in a coma for two months, and given a 2% chance of survival. He overcame unsurmountable odds and learned how to walk and talk again. He made a decision that he wanted to support himself and not rely on disability income to pay his way in life.

This individual came to NEBA in April of 2012. His physical limitations on lifting were a barrier to his dream job of owning a landscaping company. With the help of NEBA, he identified that he would like to work in food service. After learning interviewing skills, resume writing skills, and assistance with transportation, he was hired at a major University earning more than double his disability income. He now lives with his girlfriend, helping to raise her son, and volunteers at a local animal shelter.

This NEBA participant has overcome the barriers his disability put in front of him. He no longer identifies as someone with a disability but as an individual with abilities.

NEBA assists people like him to enhance their quality of life through employment, post-secondary education, and community inclusion.

On December 10th, 2014 New England Business Associates will be participating in Valley Gives 2014. This is the third year that the Community Foundation has hosted this event and NEBA’s third year participating. We are looking to make this the most successful Valley Gives Day so far and would like your help in achieving that goal.

What is Valley Gives?

Valley Gives is an innovative e-philanthropy event to support local nonprofit organizations via a centralized, web-enabled and mobile giving platform: Valley Gives reaches out in unique ways to encourage donors to invest in the nonprofits that are the fabric of our region.

Why choose NEBA for your donation?

  • NEBA is the leader in individualized employment of people with disabilities.
  • More than 400 people with disabilities and other barriers annually in their quest to find and retain employment.
  • Over the past 12 months, NEBA has assisted 121 people find new employment opportunities in their communities.
  • NEBA participants have a 93% employment rate.
  • 28.6% of people with disabilities live below the federal poverty line.
  • Working increases income, self-esteem, and adds to the tax base.
  • NEBA participants in the past 12 months have the potential to earn more than $1.675 million.
  • NEBA participants in the past 12 months have the potential to add more than $356,000 in tax base.

Unemployment Rate

People with disabilities: 12.3%
People without disabilities: 5.5%

Labor Force Participation

People with disabilities: 20.1%
People without disabilities: 68.5%

How can I help?

On December 10th go to and make a tax deductible donation.

For each $20 that you donate one of our job seekers receives one hour of support in finding employment in their community.

Thank you for considering NEBA for your donation on December 10th.

Overcoming the Urban Myth about Social Security Disability Benefits

Do you worry that if you go to work to earn additional income that your Social Security (SSA) disability benefit will be stopped?

 If you go to work while receiving SSA disability benefits will your medical coverage stop?

 What happens when you reach retirement age?

 What is “Ticket to Work?

 Have you discussed your concerns with others who receive SSA disability benefits and been told all of your benefits might be lost?

 Do you work and not declare your earnings because you are afraid of what might happen to your SSA disability benefit if you do?

 Well, here is the real story!

 Every SSA disability benefit paid is unique to the person receiving the disability benefit.  If you discuss your worries with someone receiving SSA disability benefits and they tell you their experience, it is not what will happen to you.  Why? Because your SSA disability benefit situation is totally different from theirs in many small but unique ways.

 So how can your find out what your unique situation is?

 Remember, your disability benefit is two parts:  monthly income and medical or health insurance.  Each of these pieces is affected differently when a person receiving disability benefits returns to the work place and earns income.  Earning income allows a person receiving disability benefits to begin the process of becoming self- supporting.  This may mean saving for a home, retirement, education or starting a business.

 Returning to work often means the disability stops being a major daily focus. The individual starts to develop a more rewarding life style. The opportunity to develop the basis for a better retirement is possible, both in savings as well as receiving a higher SSA retirement benefit. 

 If you are receiving SSA disability benefits, or know someone who is, discussing the specific SSA disability benefit may be the game changer for a better life.  Contact your area’s Certified Work Incentive Counselor (CWIC).  These individuals are trained to analyze each individual’s special situation and determine what changes might occur to the SSA disability benefit if that individual returns to work. Because your SSA benefit is protected information, you have to sign a release to work with a CWIC.  Contact your local SSA office to find the CWIC in your county.

 Good Luck!                                                                                       

 Colleen Moynihan

Federal Contractors, are you ready?

How does Section 503 affect me? What is Section 503?  What happened with the final rule on August 27th, 2013?  There are a number of questions surrounding Section 503.  I’d like to answer some of them for you.

So who cares? Section 503 specifically affects Companies with government contracts of $10,000 or more.  This will also affect those subcontractors who work with these companies.  In addition, individuals with disabilities, their families, and their support staff will benefit from the Final Rule.

So what does it say?  Did you know that Section 503 is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973?  In August of 2013, Section 503 was not written or added, it was updated and a “Final Rule” was passed.  In summary, the Final Rule states, “Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires federal contractors and subcontractors to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities and prohibits discrimination against such individuals.”

What has changed?  The final rule has implemented a new set of regulations.  The most important changes are that Federal Contractors and Subcontractors must meet a 7% utilization goal.  That means that these employers must hire and retain 7% of their employees as self-identified individuals with disabilities (IWD).  They must collect data on the number of applicants with disabilities that have applied, were hired, and promoted.  The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) will enforce these rules, and can access these records at any time.

I’m an individual with disabilities, what is important to me?  What you need to know is that these contractors will be looking to hire individuals with disabilities (IWD) to fill their 7% utilization goals.  They will start to implement new programs to attract IWDs.  If you need a job (or a new job) it would be a good idea to know who these employers are, and how to apply to them.

I am a Federal Contractor/ Subcontractor what is important to me?  If you are not aware of these changes you need to contact the OFCCP.  If you are aware, but have not reached your 7% utilization goals, please contact me.  We are able to help you meet those regulations and can support you through the process of becoming compliant.

If anyone has more questions or comments, feel free to email me at and have a wonderful day!

Heather Riley

Project Coordinator

New England Business Associates

Overcoming obstacles and succeeding

My name is Richard. I was born with a medical condition which affects my leg muscles and to a more minor extent my upper body strength. Additionally I have balance issues and tend to trip more easily.

I started working at New England Business Associates (NEBA) in May of 2006. Previous to my employment I had been a client of NEBA’s services. I was referred to NEBA by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. I informed them that I was interested in a position which would let me utilize my computer skills, my verbal ability, and organizational skills. They recommended that I utilize the services that NEBA provides and I met Neil David, who would later become my case manager. Neil and I would spend some time in NEBA’s office job searching on the computer to see which positions were currently available. He would also arrange appointments to come to my house and from there we would drive to local businesses and submit my application and resume.

As fate would have it, I received a call from Neil saying that a temporary position became available at NEBA. I had seen over this time spent searching for employment, the services that NEBA provides to all of its clients and the kindness of all of the staff. I jumped at this opportunity and never looked back.was hired temporarily as the receptionist for NEBA.  As I was able to demonstrate the additional skills that would benefit NEBA, I was able to transition from temporary receptionist to permanent Administrative Assistant.  Working at NEBA continues to be a wonderful experience. Over the course of my employment I have seen the progression of so many of NEBA’s clients, either in the work that they do at their chosen jobs or in their social abilities and interactions with others in the office.   

As for myself, I have learned so much during the course of my employment at NEBA and feel that they have given me the opportunity to show my abilities and skills as well as gain office administrative experience and develop new skills. The staff here is very accommodating of any extra assistance I may need such as lifting heavy supplies off of shelves or any other physically demanding task I may need extra assistance with due to my disability.

On occasion, I give the clients their schedules and let them know who they will be working with during the week. I have also helped the clients order lunch by making the phone call for them if needed and then making sure that they receive their food. Client transportation is very important as many of the clients do not drive. I assist them by calling and making sure that their transportation is on time and make sure they know when the bus is coming.

The writer’s workshop at NEBA is working with a client to write a book. When needed, I will assist the client by working with him to develop his ideas and help him put those ideas in writing. I also monitor our classroom when the instructor is out of the room.

I feel that the work I do here at NEBA is the perfect fit for me and my abilities. Having a physical disability, I feel that the goal’s that NEBA accomplishes empowers all of the people that they serve.  The clients have become more productive members of society by gaining employment in their chosen fields of interest.  In other cases NEBA helps the individuals learn skills to become more independent both at their job and in their living situations. These goals that NEBA strives to provide are very much needed in society and truly inspirational. It is, and has been a wonderful experience for me to work at New England Business Associates.

Written by NEBA employee Rich G. 

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New England Business Associates Salutes Client Economic Advancement

Economic development is often defined as reaching an increased level of financial stability. For most people that translates to working and being financially self-supporting. Individuals receiving government benefits are encouraged by society and other factors to stay on funded benefits.  To work towards self-sufficiency and stop government funded benefits requires a great deal of support and information from a wide range of resources. 

At its April 16th, NEBA Salutes, dinner, New England Business Associates (NEBA) recognized two individuals who have attained the unique status of ending government funded benefits.  These individuals made decisions to work towards financial self-sufficiency in the competitive workforce.  

Sandra is working with a major health organization and looking forward to the purchase of her first car.  Jose is using his MBA for the first time in over a decade to work in a business setting that solves and monitors complex financial situations.  Both individuals shared their story with a group of other individuals also seeking to attain financial selfsufficiency.  

Individuals receiving Social Security benefits and seeking information regarding the Ticket to Work program should go to  NEBA is a TTW agency and can provide individual information on this program.

This event was funded by a grant from the Walmart Foundation and is part of a program to support Massachusetts residents in attaining economic sustainability through employment or self-employment.


Meet Jesse

When I was asked to write about a successful autistic consumer for Autism Awareness Month, immediately, I thought of Jesse. I tried to write about Jesse with the very standard “struggles to success” plot line. While what I wrote was all very accurate, it just didn’t seem to do Jesse any justice. He is simply too dynamic for a formulaic article.

However, background is important. Jesse has been diagnosed with autism. He came to NEBA about two years ago to learn employable skills, find volunteer placements, and eventually become employed. Jesse has completed all these goals and more. He attended the Career Ladders program and still attends each week; though his job and volunteer placements don’t leave him enough time for full days of class any more. Jesse currently works as an office assistant once a week at Health Resources, a doctor’s office in Hadley. He excels in all his tasks, which range from filing patient information to walking the office dog. Jesse also volunteers at the Hubbard Library, which he dusts while trying not to get distracted by the movies and music that call to him from the shelves. If that weren’t enough to keep him busy, Jesse volunteers twice a week at Dakin Animal Shelter.

Just like a list of diagnoses doesn’t accurately describe Jesse, neither does his resume depict the vivid person, who loves movies, music, books, dancing, peanut butter cookies, and keeps Charlotte, the Spider in his pocket.  When Jesse enters NEBA, he walks straight to the nearest person to tell them the latest news about his Johnny Cash CD collection. Jesse, NEBA’s social butterfly, travels from one person to another a reciting different movie line duet with each person, spanning films from Aladdin to The Wizard of Oz. While anyone can recite quotes and memorize facts, I have met very few people who feel the excitement of each one so deeply inside themselves and have the ability to infect others with their enthusiasm.

At Dakin, Jesse folds laundry, which I think most of us will agree, can get repetitive at times. To keep towel folding interesting, Jesse has started reciting stories. Each day I work with him, I get a different tale complete with accents, dramatic pauses, and flourishing gestures that only occasionally interrupt his folding. I have heard everything from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney Audiobook), with a particular affinity for Dr. Seuss. When I say that Jesse is reciting stories, I mean the whole entire book, along with copyright date, background on the author, and the occasional instruction to “flip the tape over.”

Jesse doesn’t just have a passion for movies and books but also for music, specifically Johnny Cash. He can list every song and CD Cash produced with the same information and detail listed on its label. When he plays the music that he loves so profoundly, you can see the excitement course through his body and be released as he sings and dances. Jesse doesn’t worry about what people think of him when he performs, something most of us could only wish we could reproduce in ourselves. He simply feels the music and wants to share the feeling with those around him, especially those in the audience he has collected beforehand.

Recently, Jesse and I have been working to creatively combine many of his interests. Every Friday, I help Jesse to write about one of his passions in a limerick. Jesse chooses the topic, checks the rhyming dictionary, and creates his own poems. I type and occasionally help cut out some extra syllables. Once again, the enthusiasm Jesse feels about these topics and about writing his own poems, barrels through him. We sit together at a computer, while Jesse grins and moves excitedly back and forth in his chair, formulating poems about every topic from Johnny Cash to Mr. Hoober-Bloob.

Jesse, like everyone else, goes through life with ups and downs, successes and struggles in addition to his Autism. However, he is so much more than this. Jesse loves his passions deeply and enthusiastically in an uninhibited way that most of can’t image or at least admit to. Just having the chance to appreciate his enthusiasm and to feel it rub off on those around him, is something I look forward to every week.

Do you want to learn more about NEBA and what we do, visit our website at and sign up for our newsletter.

This post was written by Hannah Spiro, an Employment Consultant for New England Business Associates.