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Gail Collett, an employee in the custodial division at Oswego Industries, Inc., has been named one of the winners of The William B. Joslin Outstanding Performance Award for 2010. The Joslin Awards are presented by New York State Industries for the Disabled, Inc. (NYSID) and serve to celebrate vocational and personal growth by New Yorkers with disabilities. Collett was presented with a certificate of commendation and a check at a ceremony that included friends and co-workers.
The presentation of Collett’s award was a fitting highlight to National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Labor, October is recognized as NDEAM, and efforts are made to emphasize the contributions of people with all disabilities from all ethnic and racial groups.
Ten years ago, as part of a grant project with the Oswego County Department of Social Services, Oswego Industries Inc.’s Career Employment Services division worked with Collett with the goal of acquiring and maintaining employment. As part of an initial assessment, she was evaluated by a licensed psychologist who determined that she had a mild level of mental retardation, something that had never been diagnosed, or even tested for, until this point in her life.
In 2001, Collett began a job as a custodial cleaner for Oswego Industries, and she has excelled in her work. “Gail is a little bumblebee, always moving,” says her supervisor, Sue Ellen Baker-Bean. “She’s always the first to ask if anyone else needs help, once her own work is done. She has consistently shown a willingness to learn new skills, to adapt to changing circumstances, and to improve her performance.” In addition, Collett’s work ethic and precise attention to detail makes her a valuable addition to the team. She’s the one I go to when we have a picky customer,” says Baker-Bean.
Because of her continued employment at Oswego Industries, Collett now has greater confidence in herself and her abilities, and enjoys being able to do things for herself. “The biggest challenge I have is being too short, I’m only 4’7”,” she laughs. “But Oswego Industries gave me a special mop with a shorter handle and a smaller head that’s easier for me to use, and I get a shorter garbage can for collecting trash.”
Now in its 7th year, the Joslin Awards Program was established by the NYSID Board of Directors in memory of William B. Joslin to recognize outstanding job performance and personal success by New Yorkers with disabilities. Each year, approximately 50 candidates from across the state are chosen as “Outstanding Performers” for the Joslin Awards; from among these, NYSID chooses one to receive their top award, celebrating personal success in both the workplace and at home.
Located in Fulton, NY, Oswego Industries offers a variety of manufacturing, warehousing, assembly, custodial, and shipping services to industry, medical, and government partners across the U.S. As a private, not-for-profit Community Rehabilitation Program, Oswego Industries has been providing programs and services to adults with disabilities since 1968: including pre-vocational and vocational training, and sustained employment to enable individuals to grow with dignity and achieve their highest level of independence and self-fulfillment.
More About NDEAM
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy provides information for potential and current employees and employers. As part of this ODEP distributes posters free of charge. This year’s poster (seen at right) features imagery created by artist and writer, Laura Hershey.