This is a story of a simple opportunity...
As Autism Awareness Month comes to a close, Chris’ story is a reminder of the vast benefits to hiring people with different skills, abilities and interests. Chris is a shining example of what is possible when a company hires for a higher purpose.
In support of Autism Awareness Month, we continue our efforts to spread awareness, promote acceptance, and ignite change by sharing success stories of amazing individuals with autism who have conquered our hearts with their perseverance.
Today, we take you back to the very beginning of our journey and share our source of motivation for establishing Winters Center for Autism.
Meet Sean –
A hardworking and dedicated Winters Bros. employee, Sean shows up to work to take on his recycling route with purpose and a sense of fulfillment. As a boy, Sean received many instructional services and spent countless hours working on daily living skills, as well as mastering various job tasks in preparation for the future.
With daily challenges of autism, comes a great sense of uncertainty, largely due to lack of access to employment and continued support into adulthood. As the years progressed, Sean’s parents were uncertain about the future, especially Sean’s ability to work. All they ever wanted was for him to have an opportunity to live his best and most fulfilling life by having the same sense of purpose through successful employment as anyone else.
With the commitment of team members from NSSA and Life’s Worc, nonprofits that support people with intellectual disabilities and autism, the vision for Sean to be successfully employed became a reality.
Winters Bros. expanded their recycling program to include Project Green Sweep designed to create jobs for adults with autism interested in recycling. Sean was the first person to get started with five stops on the route.
With the support of his job coaches and caring staff at Winters Bros., Sean continues his family legacy completing a 50-stop recycle route as part of his work experience at company. Sean works alongside his brother, cousins and extended family each day - the true meaning of a family business.
Michele Winters, beaming with pride, commented on her son’s experience “Working on the recycle route has given Sean a sense of pride, purpose and fulfillment. He is excited to wake up every day and be a productive part of his community. You can see in his happy smile that he feels he has purpose and he is valued.”
In honor of World Autism Day, we celebrate the talents and accomplishments of individuals with autism throughout the globe. At Winters Bros. Waste Systems, we are fortunate to have Michelle as part of our team.
Meet Michelle –
Michelle started her journey with Winters Bros. Waste Systems in July of 2018, when the company collaborated with Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism (NSSA) and developed a work experience program at their Winters Bros. headquarters in West Babylon, NY.
Individuals from NSSA took part in various job-sampling opportunities at Winters Bros., such as clerical work, cleaning, sales and graphic design. For some participants, the experience lead to paid employment, while others continued as volunteers.
As a member of Winters Bros. team, Michelle begins each day with a workout at the employee gym and participates in life skills lessons in the company’s training center. With NSSA’s training curriculum and Winters Bros. commitment to helping Michelle realize her interest in hospitality and service, “Michelle’s Coffee Cart” enterprise was born.
Today, Michelle dedicates 2 hours a week to volunteer as a Barista, supplying hard working staff with a much-needed cup of coffee. In addition to being Winters Bros’ favorite coffee aficionado, Michelle also works as a childcare counselor at the Suffolk Y JCC, pursuing her passion for service.
With every friendly hello and a perfect Cup O’ Joe, Michelle reminds us the importance of local communities and business entities coming together to foster a kinder, accepting, inclusive community, producing greater sense of satisfaction, achievement, and happiness for everyone involved.
At WCFA, our mission is to continue to help adults with autism experience purpose and fulfillment through meaningful employment. As we advance our mission, we reflect on success stories of some incredible employees at Winters Bros. Waste Systems of Long Island.
Meet Austin -
Austin began the work experience program at Winters Bros. three years ago performing a variety of clerical tasks. These tasks included shredding, copying, stocking and filing. Austin was very efficient in performing these tasks and began training on the mail system, which encompasses several buildings in the industrial park.
In 2019, Austin was hired as a part time employee at Winters Bros. Arlene Ciantro, receptionist at Winters Bros. commented, “Austin takes such pride in his work. He is eager to get the mail rain or shine. He also ensures all of the copy machines are stocked and the other departments appreciate that.”
A few months after Austin began paid employment, he was fitted for the company jacket. Will Flower, vice president of corporate and public affairs at Winters Bros. presented Austin with his very own company jacket - Austin was beaming and could not wait to get home to show off his new apparel.
President and CEO of Winters Bros. Waste Systems, Joe Winters received a letter from Austin’s mom expressing her joy and gratitude for giving her son an opportunity at the company. Mrs. S wrote, “Soon to be 28, Austin never had a paying job. I am so grateful that someone gave him the opportunity that will not only make him feel part of society but to give him a feeling of self- worth. Mr. Winters, only a job can do this-THANK YOU!”
The Winters Center for Autism is committed to enhancing the quality of life for adults with autism through job creation, training and placement while helping businesses to develop and implement programs to employ people with autism.