Meeting Minutes November 2003


Town of Hempstead Workforce Investment Board

Strategic Planning for a Competitive Human Capital Advantage

Meeting Minutes

Smeal Learning Center

November 10, 2003


Stephanie Banach, GEICO

Gine Barbera, WIT Participant

Lois Benjamin, Chairperson, VESID

Grace Carrera, New York State Department of Labor

Peggy Christman, Abilities, Inc.

Alex Jacobs, VESID

Edward Kenny, HempsteadWorks (DOOR)

Roseanne Maraia, Workforce Long Island

Yvonne Morrissey, HempsteadWorks

Susan Quinn, Abilities, Inc.

Karen Reichter, Abilities, Inc.

Rick Savior, Sulzer, Inc.

Judy Young, Abilities, Inc.

Losi Benjamin, Chairperson, called the meeting to order at 10:10 a.m. The attendees introduced themselves.

1. Review of Minutes

The minutes of the previous meeting were reviewed and approved.

II. Judy Young announced that Abilities was one of the 2003 recipients of the New Freedom Initiative award. It was given out by the Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao, on October 16th in Washington, D.C. The New Freedom Initiative was established by President George W. Bush with the intent to remove barriers for people with disabilities in employment, transportation, technology and housing. Judy thanked everyone who participates and supports the WIT program for this award.

Ed Kenny announced that HempsteadWorks was awarded $75,000 from the Department of Labor for Promising Practices. The WIT program was highlighted in the application for this award and Ed congratulated staff for their effort.

Lois Benjamin reported on the initiative to establish a Disability Program Navigator. A one year grant was provided by NYSDOL for this purpose. A job description describing the essential functions of this position was provided and Peggy Christman who took on the responsibilities of the DPN attended training in Washington from November 3 to 6 and spoke briefly about her experience. The position is designed to direct people with disabilities to the most appropriate services within the One-Stop Center and the community.

Judy Young spoke about the displays that were purchased to highlight Abilities’ programs and indicated that a similar one should be developed for the WIT program. Funds for the display are in the extension budget that must be utilized by the end of the calendar year. The display will assist us in reaching out to people with disabilities in various venues in the community. One such venue may be wellness month (October) during which many companies hold an open house for their employees. It should be noted that many people become disabled while they are employed and we could supply appropriate information about resources and services.

WIT staff will draft the text for the display and submit it to HempsteadWorks for review by November 24th.

October is also National Disability Employment Awareness month and October 15 is disability mentoring day. The WIT program participated in this event by having customers hosted and mentored at the Long Island Childrens Museum where each participant was able to shadow a staff member for the day.

Judy mentioned that the GAO (Government Accounting Office) reported that companies are not using WOTC tax credits. When the GAO issues a statement like this, there is a danger that this initiative will not be continued. Therefore, this information should be provided so that companies take advantage of these tax credits.

Stephanie reported that GEICO has hired people from VESID, TRI and Abilities. Hiring people with disabilities is good business. Employees stay with them long term.

She stated that it is beneficial for them to be in this partnership. In the event an employee has some catastrophic need, they could be referred for services.

Karen Richter attended the ODEP training conference in Washington, D.C. There were 300 people in attendance who were involved with the Customized Employment the Disability Program Navigator grants.

We invited the customers in the WIT program to the on-going “Listen and Learn” presentations that take place on Fridays between 2:15 and 3:15 at Abilities. Recent topics included the ADA, Dressing for Success, and Employment Opportunities at Staffing Agencies. These sessions provided a networking opportunity for our customers.

Judy Young extended an invitation to employers to present at these events. Rick Savior indicated his interest and willingness to do so.

GEICO has invited members of TRI, VESID and Abilities to come and see the changes in their data processing so that they will be aware of their job requirements. Anita Zimmerman from Abilities will attend.

WIT staff has developed a job hunt club curriculum to be integrated into HempsteadWorks’ ongoing sessions about employment-related issues and career development. We would like to conduct complementary sessions geared to those with cognitive limitations and other disabilities and address specific issues applicable to this population, such as disability disclosure, how and when to request reasonable accommodations, and applicants’ and employees’ rights and responsibilities under the ADA.

Susan Quinn reported that 20 new customers were introduced into the WIT program this quarter. We have about 10 placements, 7 in this quarter. Hiring companies include Home Depot, Sylvan Learning Center, Long Island Children’s Museum, etc.

Rick Savior said Sulzer Metco applied through SUNY for a New York State grant and received the award. They have plans to do business in 2004.

Ed Kenny described the career mapping initiative through the WIB. It lists career ladders with very specific education and soft skill requirements. He noted recent awards to the One-Stop Center including the Promising Practices, Strategic Planning for a Human Capital Advantage, Building Skills in New York.

Judy introduced Gina Barbera, one of the WIT customers. Gina has a significant disability, but she is currently training at Hunter Business School to become a medical biller.

Gina: “ I am getting straight A’s. Since I have an aide, I could not find a class that I could attend. I can take individual classes. Starting December 15, I will be taking medical coding and then medical manager. Hopefully, after that I can begin working for my chiropractor. I have an A.S. degree in computer technology. I did a three-month internship with my doctor. He didn’t offer me the job as a medical receptionist since his office was not accessible. He did, however, speak to me about medical billing. So I came to WIT. With Jennifer and Sue, I applied for a job, but the office was not accessible. Sometimes employers say that the job is not open due to accessibility problems. In 1999, I graduated from Henry Viscardi School and went to Briarcliff and Hunter Business School. VESID paid for my education, transportation and books while I attended these schools. When I was looking for medical billing courses, I went to a place in Hicksville that claimed to be accessible, but it was not. I could not get into the classrooms, since the doors were not wide enough. While I will be working from home for the doctor although I really want to work in an office. But since I need an aide it is not reasonable. WIT purchased a coding book for me but when I looked at it, I realized that I could not do it without being in class. I hope that after certification, I will be off and running.”

Gina has a job waiting for her and will begin working from home.

Ed Kenny mentioned that the WIT team presented at the monthly ODEP teleconference about our program. It was very well received.

Lois Benjamin thanked everyone for a lively discussion and closed the meeting at 11:45.