October was National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). NDEAM celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and seeks to educate the public and the business community about the value that is created by having a workforce made up of all types of skills and talents.

The Resource Center has been supporting people with disabilities to find and maintain work for more than 50 years. Hundreds of Chautauqua County residents have jobs through TRC’s manufacturing facilities and Environmental Services cleaning crews, and hundreds more are competitively employed in the community thanks to partnerships created among The Resource Center and dozens of local businesses.

Every person’s employment story is a success story. Here are snapshots of a few of the hundreds of people with disabling conditions who have found work thanks to The Resource Center.

Ben Burkhart

Ben Burkhart
Ben Burkhart is a kindhearted person who is always willing to lend a helping hand. He has been a valuable employee of The Resource Center’s Environmental Services Division since 2009.

In his current position, he is a member of the mobile cleaning crew that travels to different sites in the Jamestown area and ensures that the buildings are looking their best. Ben stated his duties include sweeping and mopping floors, sanitizing surfaces, taking out garbage, and dusting. He works full time and said that he enjoys cleaning, socializing with his co-workers and being out in the community.

Through his job, Ben is able to save money for the future, purchase items that he enjoys, and help with bills and other expenses. People that work with Ben state that he takes direction well, performs all of his assigned duties, and always has a positive attitude. The Resource Center assists Ben by providing job coaching and case management services.

Todd Dallas
After 10 years of being unemployed, Todd joined The Resource Center’s Supported Employment Program in November 2016 in the hopes of rejoining the community and the workforce. Todd is a soft-spoken person who is friendly and fun to work with. His dedication and participation while in the program has been nothing short of outstanding.

Todd interviewed for and was offered the position of a Facility Service Technician in the recycling department at Truck-Lite in May of this year. Returning to the workforce can be scary, but Todd has received exceptional remarks from his employer and his Job Coach. Todd’s job is not easy. He needs to remain alert and constantly push himself to keep up with the demand of work in his department.

Todd has been able to achieve so much this last year, and TRC’s Supported Employment staff who have worked with him continue to be awed by all he has accomplished.

Keith Gowan
Keith entered Supported Employment at the age of 18 as he was finishing up his last year of high school. He entered Job Development and within a few months, interviewed and was hired by The Resource Center’s Environmental Services Division. Keith began working in 2007. He worked on the mobile crew, cleaning several TRC facilities. Keith was chosen specifically for the floor crew for the Jamestown City Hall account because of his superior attention to detail.

Keith Gowan

In 2009, a new account opened up for snow removal at the Interstate 86 rest area near Bemus Point. Keith applied and was offered a spot on the crew. He worked there throughout winter, then returned to the mobile cleaning crew.

In 2010, Environmental Services was contracted to provide cleaning services at the I-86 rest area, and Keith was ecstatic when chosen to be placed on the crew full time. His duties include sweeping, mopping, washing windows, and maintaining the overall cleanliness of the restrooms. Keith’s Department of Transportation supervisor trusts him enough to have him attend to duties out of the norm, such as trimming trees, as the supervisor knows Keith is always willing to help wherever he is needed.

Over the years, Keith has proven to be a trustworthy, competent and valued employee.   He currently works 37 hours per week. For the terrific work he does at the rest area, Keith has been recognized by NYSID (New York State Industries for the Disabled) as an Outstanding Performer in its annual William B. Joslin awards program.

Matthew Madison

Matthew Madison
Matthew interviewed for a job at the Lakewood Walmart in November 2016. Matthew nailed the interview on his own and was hired as seasonal help, 20 hours per week.

After the Christmas season, Walmart management approached Matthew and asked if he was interested in remaining on staff as a part-time stockperson. Matthew accepted the offer, and his job involved gathering carts in the parking lot and bays and then bringing them to the corrals inside the store. He also assisted in training new hires.

Recently, Matthew was asked to learn the specifics of the cashier position so he could be utilized in the Auto Center. Although Matthew worked a 20-hour schedule each week, he routinely filled in for co-workers who call off. It is not uncommon for him to work several double shifts during a week.

Matthew recently was hired as a full-time employee and will be eligible for insurance benefits.

Phil Murvine

Phil Murvine
Phil has worked for The Resource Center’s Environmental Services Division for more than 16 years. During that time, he has learned an array of skills from janitorial and floor work to snow removal and landscaping. He has amazing time management skills, is very prompt and even walks to and from work.

The workers at the Department of Transportation at the I-86 rest stop are extremely pleased with his work ethic. He always stays busy without prompting and does a top-notch job. He loves his job at the rest stop and often says how happy he is with it.

He’s come a long way and has learned how to handle stressful situations and people in a much calmer way. He is helpful and is willing to work extra hours as well. When he’s not working, he enjoys spending time with his daughter, and camping. He is an asset to Environmental Services and we are happy to have him.

Jeremy Russell

Jeremy Russell
Jeremy entered The Resource Center’s Supported Employment Program in July 2012. He had little work experience and was eager to find employment within his home town of Randolph, NY. Once Jeremy completed the initial intake phase for Supported Employment, he entered Job Development.

Jeremy worked closely with his Job Developer, searching for employment opportunities locally. With the Job Developer’s assistance, he submitted two applications for employment in Randolph that were reflective of his work interests. Jeremy interviewed and was hired as a substitute cleaner with Randolph Central School. He works during the school year and is off when school is out of session, and he returns to his job in late summer.

Jeremy enjoys his cleaning job, where he earns enough money to live in his own house and pay his way without assistance.

David Shaw

David Shaw
To say that 2017 was David Shaw’s year would be an understatement.

David began working as a Food Service Aide for UPMC Chautauqua WCA in March. He grabbed the ball and kept running with it at WCA, as he became an integral part of the kitchen’s daily functions from the get-go. This job has greatly impacted his life, enabling him to live independently and giving him the ability to recently purchase a car.

David is proud to be working for WCA. His elation was exhibited at a Job Club meeting, at which David shared his success with his peers.

His Job Coach, Aliza Neal, said, “David is constantly working and maintains a clean and organized dish room. He also has built great relationships with all of his co-workers.”

David’s future keeps looking brighter with each day that passes!

In conjunction with October being National Disability Employment Awareness Month, TRC held a reception to recognize people with disabilities who have been employed for significant periods of time. Pictured are, from left, Heather C. Brown, Assistant Executive Director; Terri Johnson, Director of Employment and Community-Based Services; Innelia Torres, who has been employed by Filling the Gap for one year; Andrew Lockwood, who has worked at Truck-Lite for five years; Justin Leid, a five-year employee with TRC’s Environmental Services Division; Ronald Walter Gabalski, who has worked at TRC’s home on Forest Avenue for a year; Brian Dickinson, who has worked for TRC’s Allied Industries for five years; and Kevin Anderson, Assistant Director of Employment and Community-Based Services.