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28th Annual Employer Recognition Breakfast
Arc of Westchester’s 28th Annual Employer Recognition Breakfast Honors Community Leaders, Local Businesses
NY State Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Hochul, Lifelong Supporter of People with Disabilities, Addressed The Audience and Encouraged Their Support
Shown above from left: Tibi Guzman, Arc of Westchester Associate Executive Director/COO; Nancy Patota, Arc of Westchester Foundation Executive Director; NY State Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Hochul; Richard P. Swierat, Arc of Westchester Executive Director.
Arc of Westchester held its 28th Annual Employer Recognition Breakfast on Thursday, April 28 at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown. The event celebrated the 250 partnerships between Arc of Westchester and public and private businesses in the community. Government officials and community leaders attended the event, praising Arc of Westchester and the business community for their role in employing individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
This year’s event featured Lt. Governor, Kathleen C. Hochul as the keynote speaker and recipient of the 2016 Share of Voice Award. Her compassion for people with disabilities began when she was a child and her family of eight chose to care for several disabled children who were moved out of institutions into group homes. It was Hochul who spent time teaching these children how to become independent and accomplish various tasks. Those early years of her life inspired her to use her political career as a platform to advocate for people with disabilities at the state level.
“You can’t underestimate the power of someone who really wants a job – how hard they’ll work for you,” Hochul explained. “Today, so many children with disabilities grow up with loving parents and siblings – and then it’s time for them to launch their lives and there’s nowhere for them to go. Now it’s our time to step up and help. We have a moral responsibility. Next year, let’s see more tables of people who’ve stepped up.”
Numerous award recipients praised Arc of Westchester for finding just the right candidate to fill a job. These new employees reshape the work environment, often bringing joy or a renewed spirit to their team. Once they become comfortable with their new job and colleagues, they are often regarded as an integral part of the business and a valued staff member whose absence is missed if they are not there.
Ten awards were presented to individuals and companies that have championed Arc of Westchester’s career and employment programs, including:
- Share of Voice Award and Keynote Speaker: Kathleen C. Hochul, Lt. Governor, State of New York
- Civic Partnership Award: Westchester County Department of Environmental Services
- eDocNY’s New Business Partnership Award: Research Foundation of CUNY (City University of NY)
- Distinguished Partner Award: Atria Woodlands Senior Living
- New Partnership Awards: HMS Host and Northern Westchester Hospital
- Bridge to Employment Award: CVS
- Advocate Award: Bill Arco, Flik Hospitality Group
- The Anthony Cannata Memorial Employee Awards:
- Crystal Hudson, Goodwill Industries and Evan Rohrlick, The Mines Press, Inc.
One of the highlights of the breakfast is the presentation of The Anthony Cannata Memorial Employee Award. The award is given to two individuals who have surpassed their job expectations and are an example for all employees.
Crystal Hudson who is visually impaired, began working at Goodwill as a volunteer who helped sort clothes on a rack. Now, just two years later, she works 30 hours a week, helping to price items with a price gun, arrange shoes and pocketbooks and even answer the phones. Hudson does not let her vision impairment get in the way of her work. She proudly accepts each challenge and always leaps at an opportunity to learn something new.
“I would like to thank the Arc of Westchester and my co-workers for teaching me and helping me to do my job,” said Hudson when accepting her award. “And my mom and dad for supporting me and loving me, the person who I am.”
Stephen Mines, owner of Mines Press Inc. called award winner Ethan Rohrlick, “the most dependable employee at our shop. He is the only person in our shipping department. He comes every day with a smile on his face and works productively. Every day for 18 years.” Mines summarized what every employer expressed throughout the breakfast, explaining that when a business hires an employee through Arc of Westchester, they gain an exceptional person who is hardworking, enthusiastic and proud of their work.
As the breakfast drew to a close, one thing was clear: an employee with a disability enhances the workplace for everyone – from the employer and supervisor to colleagues and customers.
“At Arc of Westchester, we believe people with developmental disabilities should be respected as citizens in our community, and should have access to employment opportunities,” Swierat said. “As an employer, when you hire a new employee, you are providing that person with the opportunity to have a meaningful life where they can build friendships and relationships – a life full of options and opportunity.”
Numerous local government leaders attended the breakfast, and many lauded the individuals served by Arc of Westchester, noting that these are some of their best and most reliable employees.