ELIZABETH – Bank of America illustrated its commitment to helping build and support the communities it serves with a recent grant of $7,500 to Community Access Unlimited (CAU) for use in the agency’s employment services programs.
CAU provides support and services to people with disabilities and at-risk youth. The agency operates a variety of vocation and employment and training services designed to help members acquire skills necessary to achieve and retain employment, earn money and achieve greater independence.
People with disabilities train for employment in areas that match their interests and skills and have access to classes in basic math, reading and computer skills. Members work either at Community Access Unlimited or outside businesses.
CAU’s younger members receive training that prepares them for every aspect of employment, from skills assessment and training to interviewing, dressing for success and interaction with others in the workplace. CAU’s On Your Way to the Top program provides youth members with employment opportunities tied to occupational training during the summer months.
“For individuals with disabilities and at-risk youth, the importance of a support network cannot be overstated, especially when it comes to gaining employment and achieving greater independence,” said Robert Doherty, Bank of America New Jersey market president. “By partnering with organizations like Community Access Unlimited, we are helping set opportunity in motion throughout the communities we serve.”
Examples of the effectiveness of CAU’s employment services programs are found throughout the agency’s membership. Michele Bartolucci, a person with disabilities, has been employed at the Swan Motel in Linden for 10 years. She cites her counselor and job coach at CAU for teaching her how to be employed, commute to work taking three buses and manage her affairs relating to her job.
Famitta Durham is a member of CAU’s Transitional Opportunities Program for at-risk youth. She works as a secretary at a law firm and part-time as a substitute working with people with disabilities with an eye toward a future career in this field, perhaps opening her own care center for infants. She attributes much of her abilities to dream big to her time and training at CAU.
“People with disabilities and at-risk youth gain immeasurable benefits from employment,” said Sid Blanchard, CAU executive director. “Not only do they earn income that allows them greater independence, which itself provides for improved quality of life. They also benefit from camaraderie and teamwork, and the sense of self-worth that comes from employment. In addition, employment allows them to become contributing members of society – paying taxes and rent or mortgages and becoming consumers.”
Community Access Unlimited (CAU), celebrating its 31st anniversary in 2010, supports people with special needs in achieving real lives in the community. CAU provides support and gives a voice to adults and youth who traditionally have had 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 rights. CAU serves more than 3,500 individuals each year.
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