When asked about her job, Kelly Kildare is emphatic in her response. “I feel confident. I feel brave. I feel proud of myself,” she says. That she takes pride in her job, and herself, is clear to see. Her proud moment was recently highlighted at the annual “Works for Me” Awards Ceremony held by the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). Kildare shared the spotlight with her employer, King Kullen Supermarkets which was selected as the OPWDD 2014 Large Business of the Year.
At the November 6 event, which took place at the Albany Museum, Kildare was joined by her family and several staff of Mill Neck Services (MNS), her supported employment agency (see video clip of the King Kullen segment below). MNS is a three-time winner of the “Works for Me” Award, which is given by OPWDD to honor businesses from across New York State that have a proven track record of hiring individuals with developmental disabilities. These businesses have recognized the worthy contributions that individuals with disabilities can make in the workplace and hiring these workers makes sound business sense. MNS was pleased to nominate King Kullen this year, recognizing the corporation’s contribution to this practice.
An alumna of Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf, Kildare’s path to employment began with the school’s Vocational Program, where she gathered experience in a number of settings. One such setting, the school store, provided practice in money management and learning customer service. Kildare joined the MNS Job Club, worked on her interview skills and participated in the Day Hab program to gain further experience through volunteer opportunities.
Despite developmental challenges and being Deaf, Kildare has made great strides in her
position as a cashier at the King Kullen store in Bellmore. With her friendly personality and willingness to learn, she has progressed steadily since she began working. Jeff Burns, the store’s Assistant Manager, says he offered her the position based on what she could bring to the job, the same as with any potential hire. Over the course of the year, she proved him right.
Burns says, “Kelly started out a bit timid, that was normally what I thought was going to happen, but she grew into a better cashier, became more conscious of her work. She came along in the past year very well.”
Kildare has indeed grown into her job. She says she is learning to concentrate on scanning faster, has learned to count out her cash drawer independently and to offer good customer service, making her popular with shoppers and coworkers alike. Her overall comfort level is apparent when she refers to her coworkers as her “second family.”
So it seems employment has made a noticeably positive impact in Kildare’s life. Her joining King Kullen has given her opportunities to grow, not just in the space of her job, but in her life beyond the store too. As Donna Spano, Kildare’s Job Coach, notes, “I feel this job gave her more confidence outside work as well, to accomplish things. Motivate herself.” For Kildare, this has meant taking responsibility for the other aspects that relate to her employment, like learning how to take public transportation and making sure her uniform is ready ahead of her scheduled work day.
Believing in the transformative power of a job, Mill Neck Services continually advocates for candidates with disabilities, especially since the rate of unemployment for people with disabilities is significantly higher than for the general population. Creating a culture of inclusive employment has the potential to work for all; from the individual with a disability, the employer who is rewarded with qualified, dedicated workers, the agencies that strive to match the two, all the way to entire communities.
Established in 1986, Mill Neck Services (MNS) has placed more than 1,000 deaf, hard of hearing or otherwise disabled workers in over 400 businesses operating on Long Island. To find out how the qualified candidates in the Steps to Success Program at MNS can help your business, please contact Marta Reeger, Coordinator of Employment Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or
516-922-3818, ext. 315.
During this period of construction, West Shore Road will be CLOSED from the railroad overpass to Cleft Road. Directions to Mill Neck Manor, provided here, take the West Shore Road closure into consideration.
For detailed information about this improvement project, please visit the
Nassau County Department of Public Works website.
Mill Neck Family of Organizations supports and has joined #GivingTuesday, a first of its kind effort that will harness the collective power of a unique blend of partners–charities, families, businesses and individuals–to transform how people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season. Coinciding with the Thanksgiving Holiday and the kickoff of the holiday shopping season, #GivingTuesday will inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities, give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they support and help create a better world. Taking place December 2, 2014–the Tuesday after Thanksgiving–#GivingTuesday will harness the power of social media to create a national movement around the holidays dedicated to giving, similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become days that are, today, synonymous with holiday shopping.
To learn more about #GivingTuesday participants and activities or join the celebration of giving, please visit:
“I wish I had something like this growing up; when I see what my team and I do for these kids, it goes beyond anything I’ve ever done,” says hip-hop artist Sean Forbes, referring to the recent two-day music video workshop he and several members of his non-profit organization, D-PAN conducted at Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf. Forbes, who is Deaf, channels his passion for music into his outreach to the Deaf community via American Sign Language (ASL) videos, workshops and music camps.
The Detroit-based D-PAN, The Deaf Professional Artists Network, was co-founded by Forbes in 2006. The organization focuses on translating popular songs into ASL music videos for Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. Additionally, Forbes and his team of musicians encourage musical expression via hands-on involvement through the music video workshops D-PAN offers.
In creating a music video with the high school students at Mill Neck’s Deaf Education Center (DEC), the goal for D-PAN was the same for any of their workshops. They provided guidance in all phases of the video’s production; from pre-production planning, art directing, and operating equipment, to post-production editing using professional software. Otherwise, the professionals let the students take over, effectively encouraging the kids to make the project their own. From various assignments in their required Broadcasting class, the DEC students are familiar with video equipment and are comfortable in front of the camera. They did, however, display a heightened level of responsibility throughout the D-PAN project.
Katie Kerzner, the DEC’s Principal, concurs, citing two examples. “One student, who is normally a very quiet young man, exhibited a new sense of leadership in his role as the director. He was very outgoing. Another student was responsible for announcing the takes during production. He showed a tremendous amount of focus with this job. He never missed the cues, and we were wonderfully surprised, given his difficulty in the past with maintaining focus,” Kerzner says. She stressed that a lot of work was put in even before D-PAN arrived. Students (and staff) spent time watching the video of the song “Shut Up and Dance” and began translating the lyrics to ASL. The students went on to create the actual video in just two days’ time. Kerzner says, “I firmly believe this was a life changing experience for our students. They came to me afterward and said, ‘now we know how to make a music video, we want to make our own.’”
And the feedback from the Mill Neck student videographers? “Amazing!” to Wow!” were a couple of initial reactions. Overall, in addition to enjoying the experience, students expressed how inspired they were by Forbes and D-PAN. While the D-PAN team was, according to one student, “Awesome rappers,” others also found them encouraging and approachable. At least two students said they’d consider careers in filming and video editing. Even when some of the tasks proved trying, like having to do scenes over and over, as mentioned by one of the lead actors, the experience was “pretty awesome.”
Although the videos D-PAN produces are essentially geared toward the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community, the hearing population is also expressing a growing interest in ASL translations of popular songs. Since 2008, Forbes has performed in over 40 cities nationwide, including colleges, concert venues and retailers.
Forbes says, “We need more things like this across the country, when we come in and empower these students. We tell them the same things their teachers tell them. They seem to accept it more from people that look like they’re crazy, but we really love what we do and we love sharing it. We had an amazing time at Mill Neck and hope to come back in the future!” The Mill Neck Manor community would hope so too.
Did you know? The New York Eye & Ear Infirmary (NYEEI) now has a Cochlear Implant (CI) satellite center based on our campus at the Mildred and Frank Feinberg Community Center for Hearing Health. Twice a month, by appointment, a licensed cochlear implant audiologist is available for MAPping (programming) services. This partnership provides a convenient location for children and adults with implants who reside in the Long Island area. For an appointment at Mill Neck, please contact the NYEEI Ear Institute at 646-438-7802.