Willy Britt is 80 years young and lives independently in an apartment in West Haverstraw. He is an artist, a creator, very witty and an absolute joy. Willy is an individual with special needs. How “special’ he truly is you are about to find out.
Willy grew up living in institutions. When he was young, there were no programs for children like him yet he overcame many obstacles that he faced with determination and a positive attitude. Years later, Willy is now an employee at the Rockland Conservatory of Music. He has a job coach from Jawonio and a Service Coordinator from ARC. He is a professional painter who is proud to display his art pieces at numerous art shows and has even sold many of them.
Willy loves his job at Rockland Conservatory of Music. He started a work study program through Jawonio in 2007 and was officially hired in 2014. He cleans that facility, takes out garbage, and greets staff and students and makes others happy at his job. He loves to paint, make repairs, create things out of wood and sing. Willy is independent and actively involved in the community; he cooks for himself, bowls every Tuesday and plays softball with Touching Bases. The people he works with say he is sympathetic and cares so much about everyone. “He has a beautiful heart,” says one staff member. Pictured below are many of Willy’s art pieces. Willy is also pictured below with Marigene Kettler, Executive Director and Martha Lerner, Director of Marketing and Community Relations at Rockland Conservatory.
Willy is an inspiration and he shares his many natural gifts with the world. In 1986, Willy was honored with the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement at the Kennedy Center. At the presentation, Maya Angelou read this poem she had written to honor Willy’s contribution:
William Britt by Maya Angelou
Fancy a distressed solitude, beyond the grasp of
human reason. So far separate the sounds are like
the noisome clattering of unwelcome guests, and affection
An inexplicable mirage
Fancy that William Britt lived in such desolation
from the age of five. The magic of puberty and the maelstrom
of adolescence arrived and departed leaving him locked
behind a door that had no key
A miracle happened. Divine imagination and
human concern reached into that barren otherness and
claimed Britt as Special. As Artist. He drew on paper,
on wooden boards and finally on canvas.
The triumph of William Britt is our triumph.
He is telling us our individual stories; despite the
ignorance which imprisons us, and the loneliness of
our lives, each of us can be reached and liberated by
Divine imagination and Human concern.
Greetings to the Special Artist who allows us
all to be special at his side.
Willy continues to paint every day in his art studio in his apartment and will continue to sell his art. Jawonio’s Employment Services and his Job Coach Stevenson, have played a very important part in Willy’s life, connecting him with and supporting him in his job.
Willy says, “I love my job and all the people I get to see there every day.”
Willy is a gift to the world and we are so very honored to share in his life.
You may view his art and purchase his paintings by calling Stevenson Durandisse at 845-708-2000, ext. 2319.
For more information about Job Placement Services contact Isabel Newmeyer, Coordinator at 845-708-2000 ext. 2391 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.