Office for People With Developmental Disabilities

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Success Stories, We Employ Ability!

02/02/17

OSCAR MARTINEZ, MODELL’S DEPARTMENT STORE

Oscar Martinez of Brooklyn recalls that when he first headed out into the workforce nearly two decades ago, he was nervous. He recalls being most concerned about how he would be perceived by his employer and his coworkers.  Martinez, who uses a wheelchair, has cerebral palsy - a neurological disorder that affects his body movement, muscle control and coordination. 

“I thought people would look at me, see me as disabled and think that I couldn’t do anything,” recalls Oscar.  “But I kept it up, I did what my employers asked of me at work, and now look at me.”

Fast forward more than 20 years later and the initial fears Oscar had about working seem far away. Modell’s Department Store, one of the country’s largest sporting goods retailers, hired him at their Bay Parkway store in Brooklyn.  He’s now that store’s longest tenured employee and has moved from attaching security tags to merchandise to greeting and assisting customers and breaking in new-hires.

TINA CUTLER, U.S. NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

For Tina Cutler, NY serving as a Park Ranger with the National Park Service is a career she loves. Since she began working at Fort Stanwix in Rome, NY 12 years ago this October, Tina has become an expert in many things Fort Stanwix and her knowledge and enthusiasm for her job has definitely benefited her employer.

Tina’s supervisor, Michelle Righter, who is the Chief of Visitor Experiences and has supervised Tina for two years, says that the Fort considers themselves fortunate to have Tina as an employee. Not only does Tina come to work each day with a bright smiling face that immediately makes visitors feel welcome, but she is the only staff member in the Visitor center that knows American Sign Language. Righter says Tina’s skill has helped make Fort Stanwix a more accessible and enjoyable experience for people who are hearing impaired. Fort Stanwix chose to feature Tina in a video where she talks about the Fort’s accessibility and her fluency in sign language. It is one of 40 short YouTube videos produced about the Fort’s history that were made to commemorate its 40th Anniversary.

Tina finds the staff she works with to be both fun and considerate. If her coworkers were to be asked what Tina most excels at, both Tina and her supervisor agree that most would answer “the cash register.” She is known as the “go-to person” whenever there is any problem with the cash register. She is the only one who seems to have the special touch needed to fix it.