WORK Inc. salutes staff, volunteers at awards night

Boston City Councillor Ayanna Pressley and Jim Cassetta, CEO of WORK, Inc.

With over 400 people in attendance, WORK Inc. celebrated its annual awards night at IBEW Hall on June 14, honoring supporters, staff, and individuals who excelled throughout the year.

WORK Inc. is an organization whose mission is to ensure that all individuals with disabilities are able to grow, make choices, participate in the community, and have access to education. The awards ceremony was specifically for those who had achieved milestones this past year and those who have dedicated their lives to better the lives of those with disabilities.

The room was filled with decorations that celebrated cultural diversity, as WORK Inc.’s staff represents over 30 countries and many came dressed in their cultural dress. Jim Cassetta, WORK Inc.’s CEO, highlighted this in his opening address as he welcomed guests in 20 different languages.

In his speech, Cassetta spoke about the great work the staff has been doing over the past year, highlights of which included: the hiring of 12 individuals with disabilities by Boston Public Schools for custodial positions with competitive salaries; the connection of over 500 individuals with Boston Career Centers; the hosting of a Deaf Conference with over 150 attendees from throughout the Commonwealth; the forthcoming building of the first Deaf and Handicapped Accessible House in Eastern Massachusetts, through a partnership with Quincy Housing Authority; and the continuation of job creation and training opportunities through contracts with the Federal state government and the business community.

The ensuing awards ceremony featured seven superlatives awarded. The Best Friends award was presented to The Community Friends of Human Services, an organization whose mission is to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities. The Employee of the Year award was given to Yvonne Johnson, who has dedicated her life to individuals with disabilities and has touched every department of WORK Inc. since beginning in 1988.

The Strides Performer of the Year, Paul Dooley, is said to have an infectious smile and personality that brightens the days of individuals around him, and the AbilityOne Performer, Ben Stachel, was recently promoted to a line cook position at Natick Army Command Center and is the “go-to” person at the facility. The Best Job Match award was presented to two persons, Tevin Gandy and Curleanna Prince, who are both working for Chartwells Dining Services at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

Three persons — Alan Miller, Kelvin Yan, and William Wyman — were awarded the Joe Rogers Award for Independence, in memory of the late Joe Rogers who, after living in an institution for 30 years, found independence through WORK Inc., and the Residential Individual of the Year award was presented to Matthew Casey, whose mother, Tessa Casey, lauded the organization for its work in helping her son.

“Over the last two years, with consistency and lots and lots of patience, everyone who has worked with Matt has helped bring him back to the happy, smiling young man that we all love,” she said. “We are eternally grateful for everything this organization has done for our son and so excited for his future.”