Work Inc. honors public officials, supporters at IBEW event

A human services organization for disabled workers that will relocate to Dorchester later this year recognized supporters and clients last week at an award ceremony and fund-raising auction. Among the recipients of the awards were public servants who have supported WORK Inc. during their years-long effort to find a new facility.

City Councillor Maureen Feeney hosted the event at the International Brotherhood of Iron Workers hall on Freeport Street, located across the street from the renovated former Pollack Manufacturing building that WORK Inc. will occupy in November.

“It’s one of the few times we get to recognize the hundreds of supporters across the commonwealth,” said James Cassetta, President of WORK Inc.

Among the recipients of the awards were notable public servants like Mayor Thomas Menino and State Representative Martin Walsh, who have aided the agency in making their new headquarters a reality.

“Their clients are special individuals,” Menino said after receiving WORK Inc.’s public service award. The mayor said he was humbled by the award and commented that he expected the organization to do well at its new home in Boston.

WORK Inc. offers job training, employment support, transportation help and other services to over 1,000 clients throughout the Boston area. Founded in 1965, WORK Inc.’s mission is to support and aid people with disabilities to live more independently and productively. The organization’s 325-person staff works with over 400 clients per day, providing services ranging from evaluation of a disabled individual’s ability to work to job-site monitoring and vocational support.

Other award winners included Maura Sullivan, who was named WORK Inc.’s “consumer of the year” and Kevena Faure, who won “best job match” for her work with The Spirit of Boston cruise company.

The Joe Rogers award was presented to Michael Green and Dennis Machado. Rogers was a WORK Inc. client who spent 33 years institutionalized before coming to the agency’s group home over 20 years ago. With the agency’s guidance and help, Rogers went on to live an independent life before being killed while crossing a street in Weymouth in 2005.

The non-profit is leaving its home of 30 years in Quincy for the newly renovated headquarters on Freeport street in Dorchester’s Clam Point area. The new building is three times larger than the current space and will be universally accessible to the entire disabled community, changes that will allow WORK Inc. to serve more clients daily and accommodate individuals the organization is not able to work with in the current building.

Items on sale in a silent auction sat atop tables lining the back walls of the IBEW hall. Offered up to the highest bidder included autographed Red Sox and Celtics memorabilia, collectible figurines, watches, a television, an espresso maker and gift certificates to local restaurants.

Cassetta expected the awards night tickets and silent auction would bring in $60,000 to contribute to funding the $15 million renovation of the Freeport Street site. He said that the project, which had been delayed due to the down-turning economy, is on schedule.

WORK Inc. has raised all but $700,000 for the project and plans to raise the remaining funds by holding a golf tournament this summer and by continuing to seek out grants.

“I’m very excited that WORK Inc. is coming to Dorchester,” said Walsh, who was honored with the “Best Friends” award along with the Boston Building Trades organization. Walsh helped bring WORK Inc. and the Building Trades together to make the new facility a 100 percent union site. “I’m grateful to the building trades for stepping up to the plate here and helping offset some of the costs,” Walsh said.