Finding a job in this economy can be a challenge for anyone, but for those with special needs there can be additional obstacles.
The Jewish Child Care Association’s (JCCA) Compass Project helps remove those barriers.
Helping people in Queens, Manhattan, Long Island and Westchester, the Compass Project offers vital job services from resume tips to interview skills, and internship and job placement for teens to young adults with learning disabilities and special needs.
But the program is not only beneficial for the employees who participate. It’s a “win-win situation” for the worker and employer, said Scott Levine, owner of Minuteman Press of Bellerose, following his first experience with the program.
Levine was so impressed with Joseph Wind, his Compass Project intern, that he hired him for a paid position at his printing company.
“To sum up, if you asked me who benefited more from this experience to date, it’s really both Joseph and Minuteman Press,” said Levine.
He first heard about the Compass Project when he met the program’s job development coordinator, Shari Abel-Saunders, at a business event.
Initially, he wasn’t interested, but as he learned more about the Compass Project from Abel-Saunders, and the potential candidates that would be a good fit for his business, he decided to take on an intern for a couple of weeks.
“We found [Wind] to be extremely reliable and meticulous,” said Levine.
Though there is a surplus of qualified workers in the job market, he said, it’s still not easy to find an employee with a good work ethic.
For that reason, he feels as though he lucked out with the hardworking, diligent Wind, who also lives just a few blocks from the store, and offered him a part time position.
Wind does various tasks around the office, from collating and laminating to bookkeeping, but he was matched with Minuteman because of his computer skills, and helped out with the company’s website during his internship.
The Compass Project’s ability to match its participants’ skills and interests with a business is one of its strengths.
“I only place somebody when it’s the right match. It has to be success for the employer and the young adult,” said Abel-Saunders.
Its other strength is the support it gives it participants, teaching them job, social and other skills they need to for the workplace and beyond.
“It transforms their lives,” she said.