Celebrating National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month
This week our Employee Spotlight is on James McNeil, who works for the Jawonio Cleaning Company. James has been with Jawonio for 8 years, and during this special month, he has received statewide recognition as a 2023 Outstanding Performer given by the NYS Industries for the Disabled.
"James has said that having this position has provided him with stability, a sense of purpose and allows him to live an independent life."
Stacey Kantrowitz, MS, TICC - Director, Community Employment Services
James McNeil has been recognized for his work at the West Haverstraw NYS Department of Motor Vehicles with the 2023 NYSID (NYS Industries for the Disabled) Outstanding Performer Award. DMV Office Manager Virgine Smith said this about James: “From his first day at our office, I have witnessed Mr. McNeil display exceptional skills as a cleaner/porter. He comes to work every day and is meticulous with his daily duties. He never hesitates to assist when asked… and goes beyond the scope of his job.”
What do you enjoy about your job?
It’s close to home with nearby transportation that gets me to and from work easily. I like my hours and pay with my check that I use to pay my bills. That makes me feel good. Without Jawonio I would be in worse shape financially.
How do you feel about receiving this award?
I feel honored because I was the only one chosen this year from the Jawonio Cleaning Company. I am proud to be honored for my hard work and dedication as a cleaner at the West Haverstraw NYSDMV for Jawonio.
What would your dream job be if you weren't working as a cleaner?
If I wasn’t a cleaner I think I would want to be a cook. But, my dream job would be to be a doctor. I like to work hands-on helping others.
James’s life has been marked by a series of ups and downs, with various career interests and personal challenges along the way. Growing up in Rockland County, NY, he experienced both the joys of engaging in school sports with his peers and the pain of bullying, which also made his educational journey challenging. Despite these hardships, James successfully graduated from Spring Valley High School.
In 2010, James’s life took a dramatic turn, as he found himself in a life-threatening situation and became the victim of a violent crime. The results of this incident left him on life support, but James fought his way back to life. Subsequently, he went through an extensive period of recovery and rehabilitation services. Having faced such significant adversity and resultant trauma, James also sought assistance from the Mental Health Association of Rockland where he received care and treatment.
His journey back to stability and success continued when he connected with ACCES-VR, who then referred James back to Jawonio, this time as a participant. James worked with the Community Employment Services (CES) Department who assisted James to re-enter the workplace within the Jawonio Cleaning Company with job coaching support. In 2018, James also sought additional services from Jawonio PROS and was given a PROS advisor. Since that time, and with these support services in place, James has been performing well and is a highly successful and valued member of the cleaning company.
(L-R) Jawonio Cleaning Company Management: Jack Smith, Fran Townsend; Virgine Smith, DMV Office Manager; James McNeil, Randi Rios-Castro, CEO, Shannon Mueller, PROS; Tommie Banks, Director, Cleaning Company
James has said that having his position has provided him with stability, a sense of purpose and allows him to live an independent life. We hope you will join us in celebrating James and his incredible journey to recovery and success.
Congratulations James from all of us at Jawonio on this prestigious award and statewide recognition! Thank you NYSID for all you do in support of creating meaningful employment for individuals with disabilities.