On behalf of the team at Employment Horizons (EH), we want to thank the TriState Diversity Council for taking note of the ways that people with disabilities are a dependable and important part of the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are 450 people each year that EH assists helping to identify, achieve and succeed at the jobs of their choice in Northern New Jersey. Top sectors include the retail, janitorial and food service or hospitality industries. While there have been people served by Employment Horizons who have lost jobs during the pandemic, there are many who have been asked to work longer hours to fulfill the needs of the community.
For example, there are people like Melissa and Daisy who both work at retail stores. Though apprehensive and a bit scared to continue to go to work at a grocery store during the pandemic, Melissa is virtually working with her job coach remaining connected by video chat. She’s been given the proper protective equipment and continues to abide by social distancing which helps. Melissa reports that “Just going to work and doing something I enjoy is really important right now”. She is so glad that she has her job at Shoprite and continues to work 2-3 days each week.
Daisy normally works at a CVS store two days a week although her hours have increased to four days each week due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as she provides coverage for other coworkers who have called out. She also receives virtual support from Patrick, her job coach. Daisy is thankful for the opportunity to help and enjoys working the extra days.
Since quarantine and social distancing began in March, the Employment Horizons staff have shifted all means of communication, work, and support of their clients to video or other modes of virtual communication. Day, evening, night or weekends, the people served work all types of hours and their support remains consistent.
EH staff member Sue, is EH’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Specialist. She placed and provides support for three people working at Englewood Hospital who work in janitorial positions. These are incredibly trying roles especially right now. Sue has been working day and night (sometimes through the night) providing moral support through Facetime. Each of these workers has courage but also a commitment to their jobs and desire to help.
Employment Horizons’ own cleaning crews continue working in support of their government, municipal and commercial customers and are helping to decrease the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Nearly 100 people work throughout Morris County at various locations through these contracts. All are provided personal protective equipment and work under highly qualified supervision.
While the agency-based program at Employment Horizons temporarily closed during mid-March following quarantine and social distancing guidelines, the staff who support these program participants are making outreach calls with each of them. There are over 100 people who work in the packaging and assembly division. These workers, people who need the extra support of their counselors, are also keeping active through daily creativity suggestions devised by their support professionals.
Danny is one of the workers that typically attends Employment Horizons agency-based program. Together, he’s working with his mother, a master seamstress, creating protective masks for medical professionals. He’s folding creases, measuring, and packaging masks. They have created hundreds of masks that are delivered regularly for the staff at Atlantic Health.
Employment Horizons is proud of the program participants working on the front lines of this pandemic and proud of the staff who are finding creative ways to support these brave and committed employees.
Check out Employment Horizons social media platforms to take a look and follow even more stories of courage, success, and achievement that people with unique abilities are doing to at work!
Or check out their website and sign up for updates through their mailing list – www.ehorizons.org
For additional information, please contact Lisa Montalbano, Employment Horizons Director of Development at [email protected]
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