Easter Seals Massachusetts
Easter Seals provides services to ensure that children and adults with disabilities have equal opportunities to live, learn, work and play. Our vision is to ensure that all people with disabilities are empowered to reach their full potential.
When you first enter the NonProfit Center, the Easter Seals Technology and Training Center is the first tenant you see. Easter Seals Massachusetts differs from many other tenants because of its name recognition and the fact that it was a pre-existing tenant when Third Sector New England purchased the property to create the center. But its mission, “expanding independence for people with disabilities,” still feels right at home at the NonProfit Center.
The Job Training Center focuses on vocational rehabilitation, job training and employment services to adults with a wide range of disabilities and to others in need of these supports. This includes computer training, adaptive technology training, skill enhancement and job support services.
Working Toward Solutions
Let’s say you used to work construction and suffered an injury such that you cannot continue your previous line of work, but now find yourself unqualified for today’s computer-dependent office workforce. This can be an overwhelming and tricky time. This is also where Easter Seals’ services become invaluable.
Easter Seals trains clients on all of the basic software applications they may need in the workplace, individualizing instruction to meet specific needs. In addition, they offer workshops on a variety of topics such as interview skills, resume building, where to look for jobs and time management, to help clients get and retain good jobs.
“It’s all about getting people back to work,” explains Ann Marie Latella, Assistant Director of Job Training and Employment. “Work changes our clients’ lives.” Whether the client suffers from lupus, a life-altering injury, or a learning disability, she strives to “be creative to find ways to get people back to work.”
Helping Clients Overcome Challenges
Right now, part of Latella’s job is finding transition placements for job candidates. It’s a common complaint that you can’t get job experience unless you already have job experience, a challenge for most of us.
For clients of the Easter Seals program, it can be even more frustrating. They’ve been trained and have these skills and are eager to begin work, but landing a new job with no real-world experience is difficult. Latella is encouraging local nonprofits to work with Easter Seals to offer the opportunity of hands-on office experience to clients ready to tackle the workforce.
“Candidates would have computer training and support provided by Easter Seals which could segue into a meaningful volunteer/internship opportunity with your organization.” This arrangement benefits your organization by providing necessary help, while allowing the candidates to get solid, much-needed experience for their resumes. Easter Seals staff would work closely with you throughout the process to make sure the placement is successful.
Reaching Out, Reaching Goals
A grant allows Easter Seals to work with students with disabilities in the Boston Public School system, teaching them necessary skills that they are being exposed to for the first time. Tastery Reed, a recent BPS student, said that his employment specialist “has been a real asset in assisting me in job searching as well as explaining what to do and what not to do in an interview. And when things got tougher, he stuck by me and he always had faith in me to find a job.”
Latella loves the NonProfit Center. “We’re working toward something good,” she observes. Being in the center allows them to be surrounded by like-minded organizations working to improve the community around them.
Easter Seals Massachusetts also runs an assistive device loan program. While assistive technology is an expanding market, it can also be a prohibitively expensive market. By checking a device out of the loan center, a patron can spend the time they need exploring the product to see if it is the right one for them, and if not, try something else before making a purchase.
Part of the NonProfit Center’s mission is “that together, both our net contribution to society and our individual contributions to our organizations are greater than what we might achieve alone.” The Easter Seals Job Technology and Training Center lives this ideal on a daily basis. “It doesn’t take a lot of effort to reach out,” Latella reminds us.
If your organization is interested in helping to develop an Easter Seals candidate, please contact Ann Marie Latella at Easter Seals Massachusetts, 617.226.2640.