Jennifer Cona
Managing Partner
Genser Debow Genser & Cona, LLP

“Our files were overflowing. We were in the process of hiring a document shredding company. Then one day, Life’s WORC suggested we hire Stephanie.”

“When their customized employment program initially approached me at an HIA CEO roundtable about hiring someone with developmental disabilities, I have to admit I was hesitant. I’m responsible for all of the hiring (and firing) at the law firm—and there are liability concerns, even in the best of circumstances. But then when is was explained how the program works and all Life’s WORC does to mitigate that risk, I thought, ‘how can we not do this?… How can we not try and give someone this opportunity?’

“We were sent several resumes of potential employees who had some office-type experience. Life’s WORC looks at a business’ needs and matches their clients’ skills and interests to those needs. We spoke to a few individuals and decided to hire Stephanie for three half-days each week.

“Stephanie just completed her three-month trial period. During that time, she had a job coach who acted as her eyes and ears and helped her when needed. Her salary was paid through a government program during the trial period; she then segued to our payroll once she was able to handle the job on her own.

“She’s more than capable. Stephanie takes care of all those clerical things we wish had the time to get to—organizing our file room (she loves alphabetizing) and shredding documents we no longer need.

“But there’s an added benefit of having Stephanie here beyond the clerical work. She has an infectious smile that lights up the room. She definitely brings down the stress level in the firm; she takes the ‘steam’ out of the air and reminds us all that it doesn’t take that much to be kind to each other. Hiring a person with developmental delays also shows that the firm’s leadership is really serious about giving back to the community. This is part of our corporate culture. It’s been absolutely great for morale.

“Stephanie is doing great. We want to keep her forever.”

Julie Brice
General Manager
Sky Zone

“Teenage team members often see this job as a fun stop on their way to bigger and better things. We were used to saying goodbye. Then one day, we said hello to Matthew.

“Being the general manager of Sky Zone since it opened, I was used to working with a team of teenagers who were just finishing high school or starting college. Having such a young team has come with its share of joy and challenges—18-years-olds don’t typically stay at their first job forever. Then I hired Matthew through Life’s WORC and gained a team member who isn’t looking to move on. He’s eager to get started every day—and always early.

“When I was initially approached by Life’s WORC about hiring Matthew, I was cautious. I was concerned that the loud and fast-paced environment would be too much for him to handle. I have never been happier to be wrong. Matthew began as a ‘floater’ and would help wherever he was needed. Now he’s responsible for helping prepare for events, such as birthdays, including setting up the room and the favors.

“Life’s WORC matched Matthew with Sky Zone based on his skills and abilities, and also provided an aide to be with him when he works. In the beginning, the aide would supervise him very closely, but now we have hopes to phase out the aide. Matthew is very task-oriented and works best when given a checklist, which he happily completes.

“Sky Zone has always been a welcoming place for individuals with special needs. On the first Monday of the month, we have a program called Sky Zone Cares, during which we turn down the music, increase our staff, and limit the capacity. Our team is trained through Missing Pieces so they’re equipped to serve people with special needs, and I’m happy to say they absolutely love Matthew.

“Hiring an employee through Life’s WORC is really a ‘do-good-feel-good’ type of thing. It’s a great experience for the business, your team and for people like Matthew.”

Steven Bergonzi

Recruiter, Human Resources Team

Life’s WORC

“I decided to change career paths from finance to something that mattered and was rewarding. I just wasn’t sure where to start. Then one day… my path brought me to Life’s WORC.

“There came a point in my life where talking about investments and the stock market just didn’t seem all that important. Then the opportunity presented itself for me to change my path and I decided it was the right time to look at helping others in need. I decided to work with adults with disabilities.

“I began working within the field in 2009 and have worked in almost every aspect, including as a direct support professional, day habilitation manager, community habilitation specialist, residential manager and my present position—a recruiter for Life’s WORC.

“Now, I tell the people I interview, ‘It’s not enough to say you want to help people.’ As fulfilling as working with individuals with special needs is, it is not for everyone. You’re going to be helping people with extreme needs. The field is not going to pay you everything you put into it, but you get to spend time and work with people who actually care about you. These individuals do not care what kind of car you drive or if you are wearing the trendiest clothes, they just want someone who will listen and help them achieve their goals in life. Although I have received countless thank yous from the individuals and their families for being with them during the holidays, hurricanes, snowstorms and just plain rough times, it is I who am forever grateful as I have received so much more from them than I have given.

“I absolutely love working for Life’s WORC; they have an extremely supportive atmosphere. What initially attracted me was the fact that they were voted one of the best companies to work for in New York State. Life’s WORC lives by five core values: Responsibility to the individuals we support, quality, creating and maintaining a team, staff development and recognition, and communication. What makes them a great employer is that they never stray from these values.

“The real reward of working at Life’s WORC is to be with people who are real. You can’t buy that.”

Saundra Gumerove

Attorney

Saundra M. Gumerove & Associates

“People with special needs are very committed, very good workers, and like what they do.

“I began my law career as a bank attorney before being recruited as general counsel to a commercial finance company. My first child, Lauren, was born with special needs and I did everything I could to support her. This inspired me to open my own corporate law practice in 1990, focusing on special needs law.

“When Life’s WORC approached me regarding Joyce, it was perfect timing. As a tireless advocate for those with special needs, I had been working towards hiring an individual from within the community.

“The office is very busy and fast paced and I needed to ensure I hired an employee who could do well in that environment. Life’s WORC recommended Joyce for the position after assessing her skills and aptitudes, and she has performed very well. Life’s WORC also provides an aide to supervise the clerical work Joyce performs.

“This has been a wonderful experience. Just like with any other employee, you need to make sure you have the right person for the position—so you’re both successful—and Life’s WORC does that.”

Pamela Curtiss
Coordinator, Customized Employment
Life’s WORC

“I needed a career change. I had always wanted to do something more rewarding and considered going back to school for social work but there never seemed to be time. Then one day, I took a leap of faith to find a career that would make me feel more whole.”

“After 17 years of working in New York City in the cutthroat branding and design industry, I decided it wasn’t worth it anymore; I wasn’t feeling fulfilled or productive. I was only helping my clients make money.

“Being someone who has always been there to help people, I began researching the human services field and found a real need for support in working with adults and children with disabilities. There was an obvious gap in serving this population and ensuring every citizen was able to enjoy the same rights—and I wanted to help bridge that gap.

“I had the privilege to interview with multiple agencies on Long Island, but Life’s WORC’s reputation, welcoming atmosphere and passion made my decision easy.

“Starting in an entry-level position that supported both the day habilitation and customized employment departments, I developed a full understanding of the wonderful services and people the agency serves. I’ve been promoted twice since I started in November of 2014, and now I work in a position that completely focuses on customized employment. I supervise the employment specialist and job coaching staff; we help determine what tasks individuals with disabilities are good at and what they like, and match them with a business with those hiring needs. We look for job opportunities that benefit both the person and the business.

“One of the things that I love most about working at Life’s WORC is that they truly care about their employees. They provide wellness programs, family days and a work/life balance that I’d never been able to experience before. The time I’ve gained with my children is priceless. The opportunity for growth and flexibility while helping individuals with disabilities find a job where they’re meant to be really sets Life’s WORC apart.

“For the first time in my life, when people ask me how work is, I can say it’s great and mean it.”