The Continuing Education Worker Training Program at St. Joseph’s University, New York recently partnered with the Suffolk County Department of Labor to host a series of workshops for 10 adults with autism at the Winters Center for Autism in West Babylon.
Over the course of five weeks, Tina Ferro, chair and professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management at SJNY, provided instruction, and the class met for one hour, twice a week for nine sessions.
The program, funded by the Suffolk County Department of Labor, explored the social nuances of the hospitality industry and focused on interaction with patrons, coworkers and supervisors.
For successfully finishing their coursework, each of the trainees was awarded a certificate of completion by Ferro, Suffolk County Department of Labor Commissioner Rosalie Drago, and Gail Lamberta, Ph.D., SJNY’s associate dean for community development, professor and chair of recreation and leisure studies, and coordinator of experiential learning.
“As they say, it takes a village to make a difference, and we truly made a difference in the lives of all of the participants,” said Dr. Lamberta. “This partnership enabled us to provide the participants with the skill sets to pursue employment within the hospitality industry.”
The Winters Center for Autism was established in 2020 with a goal of identifying the skills and talents of participants and matching them with businesses and organizations open to creating jobs for capable and trained employees. The Center is dedicated to enhancing the lives of adults with autism through job creation, training and placement to address the excessive unemployment rate among people with autism.
“Our trainees have been given an extraordinary opportunity and have capitalized on this training exponentially,” said Lisa Lee, community resource coordinator for Winters Center for Autism. “Trainees have begun using acquired strategies in their training at the center, and with our job coaches reinforcing what has been learned, these skills will go forward when the trainees are hired by one of our employer partners.”
Ferro said that “Being a part of this program and being able to provide these students with valuable skills that will help them achieve their employment goals was a truly rewarding experience.
“I am so proud of this group and I look forward to working with the center again in the future,” she added.
This month, SJNY is partnering again with the Suffolk County Department of Labor, as well as the Suffolk County Department of Social Services and Community Housing Innovations, Inc., to offer a Servsafe food handler course and Hospitality: Profession and Service to clients from local homeless shelters.