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.

The Key to Employment Success

Every day, I see articles scattered about the internet about jobs. Job creation, job success, interview tips and tricks, what to put/not to put on your résumé…the list goes on. Some of these articles, however, don’t even describe the most important step in finding a successful job placement, not only for agencies supporting individuals with disabilities, but for everyone.

A legitimate question: how many of you buy something immediately after seeing it, without even asking what it does or how much it costs? Probably very, very few of you. What would make you more likely to purchase it? Probably a few things:

  • The item’s purpose – What can it do for me?
  • The item’s cost – How much will this cost me?
  • The item’s performance – Is it well-built? Is it made by a reputable manufacturer? Does it have good reviews?
  • The item’s demand – Will I really use this if I purchase it?

A lot of what NEBA does it similar to a customer contemplating a purchase, only the customer is an employer, and the item (not to intentionally dehumanize), is our job seeker. Employers have all of these basic questions (and then some) in mind. To paraphrase the above list into employment terms:

  • The job seeker’s role – What can this person do to help my business?
  • The job seeker’s pay – How much should I compensate them for their work? Can I afford it?
  • The job seeker’s credentials – What are their skills? Does NEBA know they are a good match for my business?
  • The job seeker’s effectiveness – If I hire this person, will it be worth my investment?

Back to the important key step in employment success. Before an employer can even begin to ask these questions, they need to trust the person they are speaking with. This does not happen in the first, or second, or even third or fourth conversation together. It takes time to build a relationship, and that is the first key to employment success for our individuals. Is it mostly in the job seeker’s hands to succeed? Absolutely. But with NEBA as the catalyst to employment and as the initial contact to employers, it is our relationship building that starts the journey to successful placement.

If you happen to receive a visit from a NEBA employment consultant, you can be sure we won’t blurt out our mission statement. We want you to do the talking first. 🙂 It is about your business, not our job-seekers. We want to know what your business does. How you have reached your current status as a business. How today’s economy is affecting your bottom line, and your employees. We want to know how your business impacts the community. We also want to know your story. How did you come to be the employer that you are? Are there things you would change about your business? What’s your favorite ice cream flavor (hey, it can’t be all business)?

The bottom line: If we don’t know about you, we cannot possibly know about your business. If we don’t know about your business, we cannot possibly know if a NEBA job seeker would be a great match. Without taking the steps to nurture a relationship, there’s no point in even asking about job opportunities, because neither NEBA nor an employer wants to invest in something they don’t know about.

-Ryan Aldrich

Senior Employment Consultant, Connecticut Services

Looking Forward

This time of year is my favorite. It’s a natural time to reflect on the past year, thank those who have supported our mission, and celebrate those who have met their goals. NEBA is privileged to employ 60 very talented and dedicated staff who assisted many new job seekers to become employed this year, and helped many more maintain their jobs despite difficult economic conditions.

This year was particularly challenging due to fiscal uncertainties and natural disasters. Although trying, these did not deter us from meeting our mission: “To enable people with disabilities whose rights and freedoms are most likely denied them to be fully included in community life, primarily through employment.”

Despite the difficult times, NEBA expanded services into Connecticut and became a vendor of the Department of Developmental Services and the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services. NEBA is now assisting 42 individuals to find jobs in their communities, and we plan to increase our capacity to serve more individuals in 2012.

The NEBA Business Development Center (BDC) served 40 individuals this year interested in being self-employed; eight of whom completed their business plan in the past quarter. These new businesses are now off to the implementation phase and one business has already seen the need to hire an additional employee. The BDC also became an affiliated member of the MACDC which is committed to community and economic development and received funding from the People’s United Community Foundation and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.

As the economic challenges continue, the tasks and challenges become more urgent for all of us. More than ever we need to work in partnership, recognize that we’re all bound together in a social and economic struggle, and remember that employment needs to be the priority for individuals with disabilities. Although NEBA has always partnered with local businesses, partnering with other non-profits was and will continue to be fundamental to our being able to reach more individuals and strengthen our service delivery. Chapel Haven in Connecticut, FutureWorks Career Center, and the Scibelli Enterprise Center in Massachusetts were new partnerships formed/strengthened this year specifically to increase the number of individuals with disabilities who become employed or self-employed.

We look forward to these ongoing partnerships as well as forming new partnerships that will assist us in serving many more in 2012.

– Jeannine Pavlak, Executive Director, NEBA