Bill Strazzullo fondly remembers the humble beginnings of the first NuPath Job Camp graduation.
“I remember our graduation consisted of being in a classroom with balloons and a sheet cake (at 147 New Boston Street),” he reflects. “I never imagined it would have such an impact on so many lives.”
Five years later, he finds himself at a sponsored event, in a function room at the redesigned Hilton Boston/Woburn hotel, delivering an impassioned speech to the 2018 class of 15 Job Camp graduates, their families, distinguished guests and elected officials on both a local and state level.
“Watching this program grow has been an exciting and humble experience thanks to the support we have received from everyone,” he said. “I’m honored and blessed to have this opportunity to volunteer my time to such a wonderful organization.”
NuPath’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Brett Reily, first joined the company as Director of Employment and has witnessed the program evolve into something more. “I’m humbled by the dedication of all that are involved in making this happen – from Bill’s unwavering support to the selfless energy and care of the Organization’s Employment team,” said Reily.
Since the class began in 2014, over 100 men and women that NuPath supports have attended, and graduated. From that number, well over 90-percent of them have found jobs that, according to the graduates, have made their respective lives happier, healthier and more fulfilling – the crux of NuPath’s Organizational mission.
Reily believes that Job Camp is well on its way to becoming a model for similar programs nationwide, aiming to lower the reported 85% unemployment rate for adults with developmental disabilities in the United States.*
“We hope this program will become an industry model and aims to turn the statistical tides on unemployment rates for people with disabilities,” he said.
The goal of Job Camp is simple – to prepare men and women with intellectual and developmental disabilities for the rigors of the working world and to give them the tools to compete in today’s working environment. By performing mock interviews, resume preparation and classes on professional conduct, Strazzullo and Employment Coordinator Anthony Shaw prepare the class for the competitive working world every Friday from October to June.
“Bill brings a passion and energy to the class that is infectious and consistent from the first class to the final exam,” Shaw said. “I’m constantly amazed with how well he commands the attention of the class and the dedication he has carried with him since we started Job Camp.”
Suzanne is among the inaugural class of Job Camp graduates and spoke about the lasting impact it has made on her life in the years since then. “Job Camp gave me the skills and confidence to obtain, and maintain, a meaningful job,” she said. “Thanks to Bill’s support and the support of NuPath’s employment team, I was able to find a job at CVS – a job that has changed my life for the better.”
Katie, one of the 2018 graduates, shared a similar experience. “Bill’s passion and demands for the class makes a difference,” she said. “The class gave me the confidence to go out into the community and find a rewarding job at Wicked Bagel in Lexington.”
Much like Katie, as the graduates were called up one-by-one, there were a wide range of emotions. “Hearing the stories of the graduates and seeing what this means to them…it’s hard not to feel emotional,” said Judy Miskell, NuPath’s Executive Administrations Assistant. “I’m truly inspired by their dedication and hard work to achieve their goals.”
Tom Arsenault, Legislative Aide to Massachusetts State Representative James Dwyer, was one of the first-time attendees of the ceremony and expressed a similar notion of emotion and gratitude. “Representative Dwyer told me what Job Camp is all about, so I wanted to check it out for myself,” he said. “The graduate’s determination and drive, coupled with the unwavering support of Bill and the NuPath team, is inspiring to see…and I am so glad to witness it first-hand.”
Strazzullo, who works as an accomplished financial consultant, has been at the forefront of volunteer work for over 25 years and is driven by a burning passion to get men and women with disabilities into where they belong – their community.
“People use the word ‘special’ when they refer to the disability community…there’s nothing special about being isolated and discriminated against,” he passionately said. “Job Camp is a passionately-driven program intended to get talented men and women out in their community – where they belong.”
In attendance was one locally-popular and avid supporter of NuPath’s Job Camp program. Mayor Scott Galvin of the City of Woburn has familiarized himself with the Organization’s progressive initiative and consistently stands with NuPath in their quest to fully integrate in the community.
“What this program does for the men and women NuPath supports is fantastic,” he said. “Woburn is so proud to have an organization that isn’t afraid to be bold and devise innovative programs to better the lives of the people they support.”
The 2018 class of Job Camp graduates was left with words of wisdom and advice from NuPath Employment Coordinator Bryan Ellsworth.
“If you can set your mind to it, you can accomplish anything!” He closed with, “Always remember – you got this.”
*Source: English, Bella. “A Next Step”. The Boston Globe [Boston] 31 January 2015. G1 and G3. Print.