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The Hearth Welcomes Employees


“Dedicated, hardworking, reliable,”… that’s the description given by Kelly Kiggins, Executive Director of The Hearth on James for her two newest workers, Demetrius Stevens and Michelle McClean.  She was able to bring them on board through a partnership with AURORA’s Employment Services and a work force development initiative provided through the New York State Commission for the Blind known as Work Experience Training (WET).  The initiative offers paid employment training for workers on a vocational track toward employment.

The Hearth on James provides enriched housing through apartment living for 70 seniors.   It offers a warm and family-like environment that is secure, assuring the dignity and independence of all who live there.   Demetrius and Michelle joined the staff as members of the kitchen and housekeeping departments, respectively and according to Kiggins, “fit in with the team very well.”  As a result, Demetrius has been hired as a dishwasher and Michelle is still waiting for an opening in housekeeping.   Both say that they love their jobs and look forward to going to work every day.  

Creative partnerships like these are important because of the comparatively high rates of unemployment and underemployment for workers who are blind or visually impaired.  As Lise Mayo, AURORA’s Placement Coordinator explains, “the ideal goal is to find employment that is a good fit for both the employer and the job seeker.”  When she and Amy Carreno, Senior Counselor at the Commission for the Blind, approached The Hearth they were greeted with “openness and a willingness to work with both Demetrius and Michelle.”  Reflecting on the process of working with The Hearth, Lise relates that it is a fitting name because hearth means fireplace, which reflects the warmth and welcome of home. And that is exactly how both workers describe their jobs saying “It feels like family…just like home.”

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