Fedcap 2011 Graduation
Fedcap Graduates 243 Job Trainees - Almost Two-Thirds Already Employed
On June 21, Fedcap celebrated 243 people with disabilities and other barriers who completed its training programs this year – almost two-thirds of whom are already in jobs.
More than 100 graduates attended the ceremony at Manhattan’s New World Stages along with family members, friends and distinguished guests. The program featured speeches from several graduates, former NYC Mayor David Dinkins, and Dick Cattani, CEO of Restaurant Associates.
“Graduations are happening all across the country this month, but Fedcap’s is something unique,” said Christine McMahon, President and CEO of Fedcap. “Our graduates range in age from 19 to 67 and overcame considerable challenges to even begin a program. Today two-thirds of them are already employed. Those are numbers to be proud of at any time – and especially in today’s economic climate.”
“These bright people stand on the shoulders of their families and friends – and Fedcap,” said former New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins. To the graduates he added: “I ask of you: As you get where you’re going, as you achieve your goals, reach back and help somebody else.”
Dick Cattani, CEO of Restaurant Associates, delivered the Commencement address. Restaurant Associates, a loyal Fedcap job partners, currently employs 16 Fedcap graduates.
“Each of you should be proud of what you’ve accomplished as you reach another milestone on your life’s journey. You stayed the course, you overcame the obstacles,” Mr. Cattani told the graduates. “Whatever you do, do it well. If you do that someone will notice you, someone will recognize your good work. Listen to your supervisor. Always be on time. In fact, be early. Listen twice as much as you speak. Always have a positive attitude. Respect everyone you work with and respect will be returned.”
“We are very proud of each and every one of you,” Mark O’Donoghue, Chair of Fedcap’s Board of Directors, told the graduates. “Many of you graduates traveled difficult roads to get to Fedcap. Now you’ll always be part of our community. Our support will stay with you as you move forward with your lives. Tell your stories when you meet other people who are still struggling to surmount their barriers. Bring them to Fedcap. Together we can help many more.”
Three Fedcap graduates told their success stories to the almost 400 people gathered, and a fourth was profiled in a video presentation. A former graduate passed along some of his own lessons learned, and the Fedcap choir performed two inspiring songs.
Graduate Denise Pereira, a 39-year-old mother of four, related how she couldn’t work for six years while she struggled with depression. Recovered, she enrolled in Fedcap’s culinary training program under the direction of Ryan Kahler, and now works as pastry chef at the renowned Red Rooster Harlem restaurant.
“I knew I’d eventually get a job,” Ms. Pereira said, “but I never thought I’d be cooking for Marcus Samuelsson in my first job, or cooking for the President of the United States six months after starting that job. I’m here thanks to my daughters. And thanks to Fedcap. And thanks to Ryan. And thanks to me.”
Norma Inoa, 25, has been having seizures since she was 14. Between her own health troubles and those of her son, she had given up trying to find and hold onto a job. Ms. Inoa completed Fedcap’s Work Readiness training in September, started a temporary filing job in Fedcap’s finance department the following week, and was hired as Accounting Clerk less than two months later.
“This is my first job ever,” Ms. Inoa said. “It’s a whole different experience, the best I’ve ever had. It’s good for my knowledge and good for my future. And I’m doing my GED on Saturdays.”
Tony Isaac had to leave college to take care of his mother. Later he tried a range of jobs, but ended up on unemployment. A counselor suggested he enroll in Fedcap’s Home Health Aide training. Now he takes care of a disabled man, living with his patient’s family in their Brooklyn apartment.
“He hadn’t been to a movie in 20 years,” Mr. Isaac said. “Now we go out all the time. Going out has brightened up his whole outlook, and he can do more than he used to. And Tony? I’m making enough to make ends meet now, thanks to Fedcap. And I’m making a difference.”