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When it comes to finding a job, many people struggle. It takes effort, patience and confidence. For those who are unemployed and disabled the task is even harder – the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is nearly double that of those unemployed without disabilities.

Last month, during National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) hosted the “Becoming a Leader in Change” employer conference. Local business leaders and staff from MRC and Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) gathered at the day-long forum to share their experiences of working together to match qualified individuals with fulfilling employment opportunities.

Five individuals took the stage to share how, with MRC’s help, they regained their independence, became resilient, felt empowered and valued.

Anita Pleasant

Anita Pleasant

“In 200, I went to MRC, with their magic and professionalism they helped me identify my skills and personality and how we could market that. I got a job at a hotel and then lost it due to an injury. So I walked back into MRC and meet Jill and Jennifer at the Roxbury office, they were so bubbly and I was impressed. I said, ‘You need to fix me’ and they made a list, systematically going down on what I needed to do and where to go. When I was ready, I was able to find a job at the Home Depot. It was perfect I knew the materials (former carpenter) and I could use my personality for customer service. It helped my ego to feel like part of a team. I knew the recognized and valued my talents. They didn’t see all the things wrong with me, but all the things I can do. I’m loyal, and appreciate and want to give back.”
 – Anita Pleasant, sales associate, The Home Depot.

Frankie Alonge

Frankie Alonge

“MRC helped me grow from high school to a 33 year old man by helping me reach my dream. When I think about MRC, I think about connections, resources, and independence. Two years later, I am now full-time [with more responsibilities]. The most important thing MRC has given me is my independence. [Employers] please make bigger connections, this is what today is all about.”
– Frankie Alonge, assistant administrator/trainer/uniform coordinator, Allied Barton

Lilyan Garrison

Lilyan Garrison

“I already had a hospital background, so when I came to MRC we planned around my skills for an opportunity at CVS. I applied at my local store because it was comfortable to work in my community, and one year at my job I have customers looking for me to assist them. I love going to work, no lie! Becoming a leader in change for me means being a role model for my niece. She is now doing a pharmacy tech training at a community college.”
 – Lilyan Garrison, CVS Health

David Van de Carr

David Van de Carr

“MRC helps by having a system and reliable supports. Because of MRC’s partnership with Partners, and [MRC staff] Margie Gilliam, I am living my dream I worked hard for. I am a valued part of the team and I can practice my trade. Why work with MRC? Because your most valuable employees are the ones who overcome adversity and are truly gratefully and willing to help out.”
– David Van De Carr, registered respiratory therapist, at a Partners Hospital

Hilary Ellis

Hilary Ellis

“The real work experience through the MRC ICC [Individual Consumer Contractor] program, in partnership with ManPower, was the cornerstone of my resume… and MRC support doesn’t stop once you land the job. I’ve reached out to my vocational rehab counselor when I needed to.”
– Hilary Ellis, patient services coordinator, at a Partners Hospital

MRC works year round to meet with local businesses to inform them of MRC services. Such events include, but are not limited to, chamber of commerce events, job/resource fairs, targeted outreach activities, meet and greats, and open houses. If you are interested in learning more about the MRC and our Vocational Rehabilitation programs, please visit www.mass.gov/mrc.

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