Beaming smiles, tears of pride and joy and palpable excitement were the themes of the day as One NuPath united to celebrate the 2016 class of Job Camp graduates on Thursday.
It was a special day for these 14 men and women as they celebrated their hard work in the presence of their families, friends and NuPath staff.
Ilana Rubin, Manager of Employment and Community Engagement, expressed her admiration for the new graduates saying, “Their determination, initiative and drive to become more connected to their communities has been nothing short of amazing.”
This is the third year NuPath has hosted Job Camp, a class that runs every Friday for two hours from October to June. Under the tutelage of teacher and volunteer Bill Strazzullo, men and women learn various skills associated with finding community employment, including mock interviews, how to prepare a resume and professional conduct.
“(Bill) demands everything each person can bring to the table,” said Lisa Carriere, one of NuPath’s several Employment Coordinators. “As a result, they step up to the plate and deliver.”
Strazzullo, who has been at the forefront of volunteer work for 25 years, expressed his gratitude to the organization and the Employment team for their tenacious work. The accomplished financial consultant donates his time every Friday throughout the school year to teach the class and advocate for his students.
“NuPath is the most gratifying organization I’ve done work for,” he said. “The hard work, effort, talent and collaboration shown by everyone here makes me want to come back every year.”
Job Camp started back in 2014 with a basic class structure that introduced people in the NuPath program to the process of obtaining employment. “Now, we’re seeing the actual placements in jobs every month, at a rate much greater than the nations average for people varying degrees of disabilities,” said Greg Brandy, one of NuPath’s several Employment Coordinators.
He also believes that just because someone has a disability it should not limit their potential when it comes to finding work in the community. “When some people hear the word disability, they think these men and women are not able to obtain gainful employment,” Brandy said. The reversal is actually true, especially seeing the dedication of this years Job Camp graduating class.”
The commitment from those who went through ‘Camp’ to better themselves was one of the first and the hardest step of their journey. Employment Coordinator Bryan Ellsworth says making the commitment is a leap to something much greater.
“The graduates made a commitment to themselves – a promise to want more, work hard and study for their future,” he said. “They made the commitment to bring a positive attitude, give 100 percent every single day and never give up when the going gets tough.”
Diana Auciello, a 2014 Job Camp graduate, was invited to speak at this year celebration. She made the commitment to better herself after discovering her true calling – working with animals. She says the class helped her learn more than just the skills needed to land a job at Best Friends Pet Care, where she’s been for two years.
“It taught me to be more independent, believe in myself and boosted my confidence,” she said. I’m a much more independent and happier person because of what Job Camp taught me.”
One of last year’s graduates, Erik Canada, says the class taught him many of the skills he used to land a job at Boston Appliance working five days a week on their administrative team. He, too, spoke to graduating class.
“Job Camp changed my life. I learned about what it means to have a job and retain it, personal conduct and how to prepare a resume,” he said. “I got a job at Boston Appliance in Woburn because of putting the skills I learned at Job Camp to practice.”
The success stories of those that have gone through Job Camp is what keeps Strazzullo coming back every year. “I believe everyone that’s been through this class was there for a reason – with a mission to work and make their communities better places,” he said.
“This group of men and women are special…for their courage, perseverance, and dignity. They deserve the right to opportunity and equality.”
The graduates exuded emotions as each of the graduates came across the stage to receive their certificates – there were great smiles, tears of joy and excitement that filled the room.
However, their journey is just getting started. The new graduates received some wise words of wisdom from Canada before setting sail on their new excursion into the community.
“Stay positive, keep an open mind and the right opportunity will be there if you work hard.”