Every year, at our Annual Awards Ceremony & Fundraiser, we honor a Triangle, Inc. program participant who embodies our mission and perseveres against all odds. Jhonny Bruno, a 2015 graduate of our Culinary Arts Career Pathway, could not be more deserving of this award. His hard work and determination to achieve his goals is unmatched, but it is his resilience and optimism in the face of obstacles that exemplify this award. Please join us at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum on Wednesday May 2nd to celebrate Jhonny and his fellow honorees for their work and accomplishments in helping the world realize that we are all people with ability!
As part of the Career Pathways: Culinary Arts program, Jhonny completed an employment boot camp and culinary training at Bunker Hill Community College with the coaching and support of Triangle staff members. He graduated from the program with his ServSafe Food Handler certification and completed a six-week internship that led to a job in the cafeteria at Shire Pharmaceutical in Lexington.
A native of Carrefour, a community in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jhonny moved to Dorchester to live with his aunt and uncle at the age of 16. Ever the determined learner, Jhonny strengthened his English language skills by reading children’s books on his own time while being supported at Charlestown High School by a comprehensive group of teachers, STRIVE coordinators, and staff members. Upon recognizing Jhonny’s relentless work ethic and positivity, his teachers began working with him to set and achieve his educational goals. This team connected Jhonny to vocational training at Triangle, Inc. and has since worked diligently with him to improve his Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test scores. His employers were another invaluable source of support, creating a more flexible schedule for him as he focused on his studies. After several years of hard work, Jhonny recently received has final passing score in Math, completing his MCAS tests.
Now 22, Jhonny is looking toward the future with both his ServSafe certificate and MCAS passing scores. He’d like to explore further vocational training in hopes of becoming a mechanic. While he always emphasizes the hopeful opportunities ahead of him, Jhonny remembers where he came from and frequently expresses his gratitude for all of the support he has received from caring individuals that have come into his life over the past six years.
We hope that you will join us at Celebrate: Triangle, Inc’s Annual Awards Ceremony and Fundraiser on May 2nd as we honor Jhonny and several other highly valued partners. For ticket information, please visit our event website.
As we mark the first week of spring I have been reflecting on the change happening in my own organization and the words of distinguished physicist William Pollard who said, “Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”
So, are we learning and changing? Are we doing enough to prevent ourselves from the arrogance of success? Last week it was crystalized for me – when I welcomed one of Boston’s corporate leaders to Triangle’s headquarters and realized that I had little to show him at our site.
When I started two years ago, I could count on introducing potential partners to well over a hundred capable people with disabilities within the four walls of our cavernous Headquarters. Today, if I want to make a similar introductions I must gladly turn them around at the front door and go into our communities across the commonwealth. It is on our main streets that they witness the true strength of our organization – a fully inclusive work environment for our participants within the cities and towns they call home. This is change and change the next generation of our participants deserve.
We are making progress but much like the disruptions we have seen in many other industries, these transformative moves have completely changed our business model both operationally and financially. In fact, it was much more cost-effective for Triangle to serve an individual attending a day program at our headquarters than to connect them with a career at a local company. Staffing costs increased dramatically when you now must coach 5 individuals working a custodial job at a seven floor senior housing building instead of overseeing 25 people completing assembly projects in a totally contained warehouse.
But these economic and operational disruptions are a small price to pay for the forty-year-old man who is now working for the Department of Public Works instead of attending a day program or the 17-year-old high school student who spends his Saturday serving the community instead of spending the afternoon at a service center.
The transition from the old model of sheltered work to a sustainable career is not a straightforward one and can be difficult for not only those we serve, but also for long-time staff who were trained in models that were thought of as innovative at the time. Now, they are tasked with learning and developing the innovative models for our future
The next time I have an appointment with a potential donor or employment partner, I’ll spare them a trip to the corporate office and meet them in the community, where I’ll introduce her to just a few of the hundreds of people we are connecting to careers and life in the community every day and to our professionals who are making it happen.