In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, New York State Lieutenant Gov. Kathy Hochul visited Staten Island University Hospital, Northwell Health, to acknowledge employees who receive support from AHRC New York City, as well as agency, state and hospital officials.

“Thanks to the work you do, AHRC New York City has really changed people’s lives,” Lieutenant Governor Hochul said during the Oct. 22nd visit. She also thanked Staten Island University Hospital, Northwell Health, “for its vision to embrace Project SEARCH.”

Competitive, integrated employment is a key part of living a meaningful and inclusive life in the community for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). However, the majority of people with I/DD remain either unemployed or underemployed despite their ability, desire, and willingness to work.

Lieutenant Governor Hochul met with four essential employees who receive employment supports from AHRC NYC while they worked at Staten Island University Hospital amid the height of COVID-19 pandemic to thank them for their dedication. Some of them were graduates of Project SEARCH, a collaborative between the New York City Board of Education, AHRC NYC, New York State Access-VR, New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities and Staten Island University Hospital.

“I am privileged to meet four people today who are employed at Staten Island University Hospital and urge other businesses to partner with OPWDD to recognize the importance of employment opportunities for people with disabilities and to be receptive to hiring these competent, loyal and reliable employees,” Lieutenant Governor Hochul said.

“Employers who provide a real opportunity for meaningful jobs, and do so because it’s good for business, not a charitable gesture, are to be commended for underscoring the value of a diverse and inclusive workforce,” said Marco Damiani, CEO of AHRC NYC.

The hospital is in its fourth year as a worksite for Project SEARCH, a school-to-work transition program for students with disabilities in their final year of high school. The program provides intensive job preparation, including 3 internships throughout the hospital, and education to prepare students for the workforce.

Anthony Sciddurlo, who works in the environmental services department, is dedicated to working hard to keep the hospital clean. “I learned to have a job,” said Anthony, a graduate of Project SEARCH, who has worked at the hospital for three years.

Brian Bershad, a patient transporter, has been a hospital employee for four years. “I enjoy my job,” he told the Lieutenant Governor.