'All I want is a chance to work,' is how Francisco Cruz began his intake interview with Riki Rosenberg, placement program manager at Abilities, Inc. 'Please give me that chance.'
Francisco is in his late 50s and had struggled with alcohol abuse and legal issues for many years. Despite these barriers, he had maintained steady employment for 17 years, but was laid off in 2008 when the employer downsized. He searched unsuccessfully for a job for almost two years, but was unable to find work due to the economic downturn. His age, a criminal record and a lack of knowledge about how to job search and complete applications online were other barriers.
He finally was sent to Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) and was referred to Abilities soon after. Abilities is a NYSID member in Nassau County that trains people with disabilities in the skills they need to compete for and get satisfying jobs, serving over 2,700 individuals each year.
'Francisco expressed a need to work and seemed very motivated,' Rosenberg said. He attended Abilities' weekly job search group meetings regularly, and slowly learned to use the computer, through training at the Department of Labor. Francisco and Rosenberg worked together for more than six months, searching job opportunities.
'With his background in maintenance and his mechanical abilities, along with a strong work ethic and motivation, I knew he would be a good candidate for the American Maintenance program,' Rosenberg said. 'When a job opened through its F.E.G.S contract, he was interviewed and hired for part-time work in Stony Brook. He arranged to get rides to and from the worksite, until his fines with the DMV were paid off and he could get his driver's license restored.' The F.E.G.S-American Maintenance partnership through NYSID has created many new custodial opportunities for New Yorkers with disabilities like Francisco.
After only a month, Francisco was made a full-time employee by American Maintenance. He has been working for eight months and is a dependable and productive member of their team.
'I spoke to him recently, and he said his life has come together,' Rosenberg said. 'He got 'that chance' and made the best of the opportunity!'