Community Access Unlimited is working with Amazon to help people with disabilities in New Jersey begin new careers working for the retailer.
Amazon has made a commitment to “building and supporting an inclusive workforce,” which may include supported employment such as job coaching, accommodations such as an ASL interpreter or different interview format, and accessibility accommodations, according to their website.
Several members at CAU completed trainings in December and started working at an Amazon sortation center this winter.
“It’s an integrated work environment,” said Sandra Lynch, assistant executive director of employment at CAU. “We’re working with Amazon to make sure the members are successful at their jobs.”
Member Robert Cappello had been working at a fast food restaurant but was furloughed in 2020 due to COVID-19. With the help of his job coach, Robert completed the application process at Amazon and was hired. He said he is excited to be working in the community again and has been busy learning how to scan boxes and load pallets at the sortation center.
“I’m really happy,” Robert said. “My coworkers treat me well even though I haven’t worked there that long. I really didn’t have any money before to pay my phone bill, but now I pay it and my rent and cable bills.”
Robert added that he received a thoughtful gift from his manager for Christmas- a pair of insoles to help keep him comfortable while on his feet working.
Referred to the CAU Employment Department by DVRS of Union County, Wilford Edwards struggled with employment since becoming physically disabled ten years ago. He now has his first job since being disabled and says that he is glad to be starting a new venture to support himself. He also hopes to find a new wheelchair-accessible apartment, further his education and receive a trade certificate.
“One of my main goals is to get a place for myself where I can have more living convenience- that is what I am really working for,” he said.
Wilford’s job coach visits him at work and checks that he can perform his duties without problems.
“Once I’m in a position working and I understand what I’m doing, I don’t need a lot of supervision and I don’t make the same mistakes all the time,” Wilford said.
Positions members have found at Amazon have room for upward growth, Lynch said, such as shift supervision roles or opportunity to become a trainer.
CAU is excited to continue working with Amazon to help more individuals with disabilities find job opportunities and grow in their careers. CAU offers comprehensive career planning, prevocational training and supported employment for small groups and individuals. The Employment Services team acts as a liaison between employers and members to facilitate a win-win relationship for both parties.
“At Amazon we celebrate the diversity of our workforce and are committed to providing a safe, accessible and inclusive workplace for all employees,” said Amazon Spokesperson Jenna Hilzenrath. “These associates hired through Community Access Unlimited are talented and bring various skills, experiences and diverse backgrounds – and we’re proud to help them accomplish their goals.”