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Jose Figueroa awarded NYSID 2009 Joslin Award

Jose Figueroa awarded NYSID 2009 Joslin Award

On October 8th, long-standing GoodTemps employee Jose Figueroa was presented with a NYSID Joslin award for Outstanding Performance. The award was presented by Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey's CEO, William Forrester.

The William B. Joslin awards, issued each year by New York State Industries for the Disabled, salute outstanding work achievements in Preferred Source employment.

Jose was selected for the award based on his incredible life story and work achievements in the face of adversity. He was having significant challenges finding work throughout the 1990's, different life experiences caused him to have a very difficult time finding suitable employment and overcoming those obstacles was a great barrier. At the age of three, he was diagnosed with a bone marrow disease, inherited from his father, which resulted in the amputation of both of his legs. His mother died at the age of 33 years old and his grandparents raised him with the help of his father. Growing up on the east side of Manhattan, New York he was faced with some poor role models.

He graduated from Martin Luther King High School in 1985, but did not go to college. He received social security checks until the age of 35 and started applying for jobs in the early 1990's, but found out most work environments were not accessible for people who used wheelchairs. In 1999, he joined a group called STRIVE, a job training program. He graduated from STRIVE a month later after meeting with their job developers and was referred to GoodTemps. Jose said, "a week after my interview with GoodTemps, their placement specialists sent me on an interview for a customer service position at the NYC Department of Education, where I currently still hold a position. I started in a very entry level position and due to hard work, dedication and a strong work ethic my position has progressed with more responsibilities and tasks."

After working eight years with the Office of Pupil Transportation, the NYC Department of Education transferred him to the Department of School Foods. As a customer service rep with the transportation department, he answered a high volume of calls, mostly complaints from parents but he did his best to resolve their concerns. In the Department of School Foods, they handle a lot more volume and sort out thousands of applications for free food eligibility.<br /><br />Recently Jose has been assigned to work with the Special Events Department; they are directly responsible for all catering events throughout the city. His assignments include answering phone calls, assisting customers in navigating the website to place orders, filing permits to open school faculties, organizing files, making arrangements with the courier service for pickup and delivery of meals, and filling complaints against the courier service when they are non compliant. Jose said further, "I have been exposed to a fast paced environment and I am enjoying the new challenges I face on a day-to-day basis. This experience has further inspired me to take the upcoming civil service exam to progress my career."

As a result of Jose's continued employment and hard work he was able to provide for his family for an extended period of time and continues to do so. He is also dedicated stepfather of four lovely children. He has a wonderful wife, a beautiful sixteen year old stepdaughter and three stepsons. His oldest is 23 years of age and graduated from college. His 21 year old works hard at a food market and his youngest will be graduating this year from junior high school. His stepdaughter was born with Down Syndrome and is also visually impaired. In spite of her mental and physical condition, she smiles and laughs, which motivates him a lot and really makes him strive harder to meet his goals.

In his spare time Jose likes to participate in sporting events and special events like the March of Dimes for Premature Babies and has been participating in these events for the last six years. The March for Babies is an organization that raises money for research and development, searching for a cure to prevent birth defects. This year he raised over $400.00 dollars from friends, family and coworkers. "The March is seven to ten miles long and it is a lot of fun when you walk side by side with different kinds of people. People from many organizations walk and also contribute. I have completed the walk in two hours and I have also done it in four hours, it doesn’t matter to me, I just love the event and the people that participate. It's a great experience," says Jose.

GoodTemps and NYSID in their partnership to place people with disabilities in city government agencies changed Jose's life infinitely for the better by not looking at his past, by giving him a "hand-up" when he was destitute, without hope and needed it the most. When no one in the private sector would take a chance on Jose, GoodTemps and NYSID did and he proved us all right by using his skills, intelligence and diligence to become one of, if not the best customer service representative to work in that section helping the parents and their children of New York City achieve a better education.

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