Business & Finance

Disability Employment Awareness Month Highlights the Benefits of a Diverse Workforce

1566edfdde69b3e82e51_CAU_Sam_s_Club.JPG
Sam’s Club associate and CAU member Christine Bongiovi poses with Sam’s Club assistant manager Dewight Braithwaite.
1566edfdde69b3e82e51_CAU_Sam_s_Club.JPG

LINDEN, NJ - Christine Bongovi frequently shopped at Sam's Club in Linden and loved the store so much she applied for a job. After a successful interview, she was hired and now works stocking shelves and helping members find goods.

Bongovi is a person with cognitive disabilities, one of many people with disabilities that Sam's Club employs nationwide. October is Disability Employment Awareness Month and Bongovi and the more than 70 other members of Community Access Unlimited (CAU) are examples of how employing people with disabilities benefits both employees and employers alike.

CAU is a statewide Elizabeth-based nonprofit providing support programs and services to adults with disabilities as well as youth served under the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to enable them to live independently in the community, providing supports in areas including housing, vocational skills and life-skills training, education, advocacy and recreation.

Sign Up for E-News

Bongovi has held many jobs but enjoys her employment at Sam's Club the most.

"Sam's Club has the nicest people," Bongovi said. "They don't treat you differently than anyone else. They do whatever they can for you."

Bongovi is one of three CAU members employed by Sam's Club in Linden. She is joined by Annie Johnson, who works cleaning the club and collecting carts, and Paula Fair, who is a cashier.

"I like working," said Johnson. "It keeps me busy and focused."

Added Fair, "I enjoy helping people. I like to make the members smile."

"All three are very good employees," said Dewight Braithwaite, member services assistant manager at the Sam's Club. "Christine is always getting compliments from members. Paula always comes in with a positive attitude ready to work and Annie is always willing to get feedback on how she can do her job better.

"Sam's Club prides itself on being a very diverse and inclusive place to work," Braithwaite continued. "We make sure we treat all our associates the same. The more diverse workforce we have the more we can help our members. All our associates have different perspectives and that helps us be a better retailer."

According to Employment & Training Resources, a One-Stop resource, employing people with disabilities makes good business sense because it has a direct impact on a business' bottom line. Retention rates among people with disabilities are higher than average, thus reducing training costs. And people with disabilities are loyal customers to businesses who support them. The center reports that companies earn an average return of $28.69 for every dollar invested in making an accommodation to employ a person with disabilities.

A study by DePaul University, “Exploring the Bottom Line: A Study of the Costs and Benefits of Workers with Disabilities,” reinforces these findings. The study found that employees with disabilities stayed on the job longer than participants without disabilities; had fewer scheduled and unscheduled absences; had nearly identical job performance ratings; and required only minimal additional supervision.

In addition, businesses hiring people with disabilities can qualify for tax credits of up to $9,600 and state and federal grants, according to Onekia Grier, director of employment services at CAU.

CAU offers a multitude of various vocational and career planning services tailored to each individual, in coordination with both the state Division of Developmental Disabilities and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Grier said. Services include working with job coaches to help members prepare for and secure employment. 

Specifically, CAU provides people with disabilities pre-vocational training, including interviewing skills, effective communication and appropriate work attire training; long-term follow-along supports that work toward retention; on-site job analysis and job coaching; job carving; career planning; vocational assessments; travel training; job development; time management; workplace do’s and don’ts; individual or small group employment opportunities; and a self-directed day program that serves individuals who are in need of one on one support.

For employers, CAU offers free work-site assessments, job maintenance training, on-site job coaching, assistance in making a business accessible and long-term follow up.

"We make sure the training and employment is in an area the individual wants," Grier said. "We make sure it's both something they're interested in and attainable. Our work benefits employers, as well. They know they are hiring responsible employees who are trained and eager to work."

In addition to Sam's Club, local businesses employing CAU members who have benefited from the agency's employment training services include the Humane Society of Newark, Target, ShopRite, Marshalls, Walmart, Swan Motel, White Castle, Retro Fitness, Dollar Tree, the Irvington Board of Education, the Community Food Bank of New Jersey and Galloping Hill Golf Course.

In addition, 8 percent of CAU's more than 1,100 employees are people with disabilities.

"Inclusion is at the very heart of CAU," Grier said. "We believe in it. This is what sets us apart from any other Supported Employment organization."

About Community Access Unlimited

Community Access Unlimited (CAU), celebrating its 37th year in 2016, supports people with special needs in achieving real lives in the community. CAU provides support and gives voice to adults and youth who traditionally have little support and no voice in society. CAU helps people with housing, life skills, employment, money management, socialization and civic activities. CAU also supports opportunities for advocacy through training in assertiveness, decision-making and civil right. CAU currently serves more than 6,000 individuals and families, with the number served growing each year. For more information about CAU and its services, contact us by phone at 908.354.3040, online at www.caunj.org or by mail at 80 West Grand Street, Elizabeth, NJ 07202.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Plainfield

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_e494ac4a13e4230208bf_holy_savior_academy

Tue, July 17, 5:00 PM

South Plainfield

Holy Savio Open House July 17th

Carousel_image_e494ac4a13e4230208bf_holy_savior_academy

Tue, July 17, 5:00 PM

South Plainfield

Holy Savior Open House July 17th

Carousel_image_41d1b33591c4aa084ebd_071818sing

Wed, July 18, 3:00 PM

Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield

Family Movie: Sing

Murphy Administration Takes Action to Help Smokers Quit

July 16, 2018

Eliminates Prior Approval for Medicaid Tobacco Cessation Medications; Counseling Options to be Expanded

July 16, 2018

(TRENTON) – The Murphy administration on Monday announced new steps to help New Jersey Medicaid recipients quit using tobacco by making it easier to receive tobacco cessation medications and counseling.

“Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death ...

Plainfield BOE Member on Naming of the New School

July 12, 2018

On Tuesday, June 19, 2018 – I, Carmencita Pile, an elected Plainfield School Board member presented this during the Plainfield School Board monthly business meeting to the public and to the board after being recognized by Plainfield School Board President Mr. Richard Wyatt.

On Tuesday, August 8, 2017 at 12:10PM an email was sent from the Plainfield School District's Postmaster that ...

Police Investigators Seek Public’s Help in Fatal Crash

July 15, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The South Plainfield Police Department and Middlesex County Prosecutors Office are looking for the public’s help in the July 4, 2018 fatal motorcycle accident that killed 28 year-old Jessica Montes of Piscataway.

According to police, the accident occurred at approximately 4:50am as the vehicle Montes was a passenger lost control and crashed on New Brunswick ...

La Guerra contra los Inmigrantes- Cuando es Demasiado?

July 15, 2018

"Primero, vinieron por los comunistas, y yo no hable- por que no era comunista.

Después, vinieron por los sindicalistas, y yo no hable- por que no era sindicalista.

Después, vinieron por los judíos, y yo no hable- por que no era judío. 

Después, vinieron por mí- y no hubo nadie para hablar por mí."

Este dicho por el ...

Mayor Mapp:  El Programa de Verano de los Jóvenes

El lunes, 9 de julio, nuevas caras alumbraran las oficinas de la Alcaldía. Nuestro Programa de Verano de los Jóvenes por fin comienza, y otra vez los empleados tendrán la oportunidad de ser mentores de un nuevo grupo de jóvenes.

El Programa de Verano de los Jóvenes corre por seis semanas todos los años y les da la oportunidad de empleo y experiencia a ...

Featured Business: Studio 15 Young Plainfield Entrepreneurs Expand Business Once More

“What you see behind me is a life-changing project for myself that I have been working on since January 2017, nearly two years, discreetly; not sharing much about it with anybody. I've had plenty of reasons to give up on this truck; I purchased it pretty much from the ground up from Rashine Mobile, another local city entrepreneur. The truck had no steering column, no computer; it ...

'Servant of Two Masters' exudes foolish fun

‘Servant of Two Masters’ makes for foolish, frivolous fun

By Liz Keill

MADISON, NJ –Carlo Goldoni’s “The Servant of Two Masters,” in a rousing translation and adaptation by Bonnie J. Monte, has the outdoor audience at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey laughing and clapping all the way through.

The yearly production, held at the amphitheatre on the ...

Lucia, Lucia by Adriani Trigiani

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2003)

 

If a summer romance novel is what you are craving to read as you sit by the pool or beach, Adriana Trigiani's Lucia, Lucia is a perfect choice. Set in 1950 New York City, the novel is about a young woman, Lucia Sartori, who is determined to have a career and be able to support herself, an unusual choice for a girl who was ...

The Anatomy of Escape by Mike Blue

The Anatomy of Escape: An Unconventional Adventure by Mike Blue (Available on Amazon)

 

Imagine that you could just say, “Chuck it,” and walk away from the bonds that keep you tied to what Mike Blue, author of The Anatomy of Escape: An Unconventional Adventure, defines as the restrictive Work-Consume-Die cycle. To most of us, becoming what Blue terms “a ...

The Death of Koko the Gorilla

Koko's Kitten, Koko's Story, The Eduction of Koko all by Dr. Francine Patterson

 

Last night when I heard about the death of Koko, the lowland gorilla who was educated to communicate through American Sign Language by Dr. Francine Patterson, I went numb with grief. I have followed the life of Koko, her two gorilla companions, Michael and Ndume, as well as Dr. Patterson for forty ...

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (William Morrow, 2018)

 

A friend, whose opinion on literature I respect greatly, reported to me recently that she had just finished reading A.J. Finn's debut novel, The Woman in the Window. Of it she said, “I wish I hadn't finished it,” which I interpreted to mean, “It was so good I'm sorry that I finished it.” ...

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly (Naval Institute Press, 2015)

Victoria Kelly's first published volume of poetry, When the Men Go Off to War, is a wonder in that poems can be written so beautifully about the subject of war. Each poem is a jewel, polished and colorful, glittering with elegant imagery, and rich in emotional wallop. The book, divided into three sections, ...

The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2005)

            The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani, a New York Times best selling author, was recommended to me by a young woman who actually came from the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, the place where the novel is set. “The author did such a wonderful job of describing how the town actually is,” said the young lady.