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. 

Are you interested in learning more about NEBA and what we do… visit http://www.nebaworks.com or follow us on Facebook.

NEBA ≠ Charity

In my tenure at NEBA, I have job developed and networked in communities throughout Connecticut and western Massachusetts. When I network, I meet a vast array of people. My job is (before placing clients in jobs of their own) to meet employers and listen to their needs, learn about their business and determine if a NEBA client can benefit their company. I am asked many questions about what NEBA is, what role it plays, etc. In some cases, a dialogue plays to a point of concern for me and my clientele. It usually goes a bit like this:

Employer: “So, you’re an employment agency? That means I have to pay extra fees to hire your people.”

Me: “Actually, that’s not the case! There are no additional fees to hire our job seekers. We are a non-profit agency working with state agencies to assist in placing qualified applicants.”

Employer: “Oh! You’re a charity. Well, leave some information and I’ll look it over. Thanks for coming in!”

Depending on the circumstances, I may or may not mention that NEBA serves the disabled population. This only enhances the notion that I represent a charity, as if my clients are looking for free money, donations, or some other handout. Of course, this is far from the truth. Still, many who hear the term “non-profit” almost automatically assume the term is interchangeable with “charity.”

NEBA is not a charity. Far from it.

Our designation as a 501(c)(3) non-profit simply means that any money we take in for providing services must be allocated towards services, staff, or anything else that helps us place individuals in jobs. Like any non-profit, we hold fundraisers to help enhance our services and award-winning best practices, as well as to bring awareness to our mission and goal. Our goal is to place people in real jobs for real pay. We do not provide handouts to those we support, but rather education, training and accommodations so they can be productive, taxpaying citizens in their communities.

Our clients have skills that would benefit businesses with needs to match, just like any other employment agency. Basically, without the word “disability” in our repertoire, our services are just like the for-profit agencies, save for the no-fee placement, coaching and education we provide to employers. Retention, turnover and employee efficiency are not foreign terms to us. Our employment consultants are well-versed in hiring practices, workplace accommodations, tax credit information and much more. Clients of NEBA are people with skills to showcase and who want to work where they are valued equally with other employees. Our clients are qualified, reliable candidates who look forward to the opportunity to grow with businesses that value their contributions. NEBA may be associated with “Disability, A to Z,” but we are also seen by employers of our clientele as “Employment, Hello to Hire and beyond.”

By hiring an individual served by NEBA, employers contribute to economic development via lowered state and federal subsidies and increased tax revenue. Many businesses are eligible for tax credits for hiring our clients. Our consultants work hard to ensure each job seeker is matched to the career path they most desire and that matches their skills, so that relationships with employers are naturally and mutually beneficial. Surely, the employee a company may hire is not a donation or handout, but a contributor to the company, community, and society…just like any other employee.

In NEBA’s 28+ years of existence, it and its staff have been called pioneers, innovative thinkers, advocates, economic developers, etc. Call us any of those things. Call us the agency that cares. Call us a run-of-the-mill employment agency if you wish.

Just don’t call us a charity.

-Ryan Aldrich

Senior Employment Consultant