2014 has been a special year for CTP and this holiday time has provided us a chance to reflect back on the big changes that we have experienced. The biggest of these changes has been the retirement of Joan Breves, our ever-present Executive Director and the changing of the guard to me, Alex Tabony, as the Interim Executive Director. We’ve also created an additional program designed for youth with disabilities. This new program has been very successful and represents an important initiative for us in our work to improve the lives and employment opportunities of people with disabilities.
If our achievements in life are measured by our degree of personal commitment, then by anyone’s estimation Joni has achieved remarkable things.
Joni’s career at CTP spanned the course of five decades, from the 1970’s, when she was hired in 1978 and finishing in the second decade of the new millennium, 2014. She’s been an integral part of CTP’s effort to promote the philosophy of independence for people with disabilities through employment. For those of you who have worked for and with Joni you know that as both staff and alumni you are part of a family. She has empowered those who work at CTP to be their best and power their work from the heart. This passion for helping others achieve their best is the reason why CTP has endured till today.
Perhaps one of the most significant achievements in Joni’s career was the vision that she made reality, by bringing us to the Ed Robert Campus. I remember her telling me on October 1, 1999, the day I was hired at CTP, about this vision. She spent 15 years collaborating with a diverse group of non-profit disability organizations to plan and develop this building which has become an internationally recognized hub for disability services and our amazing new home.
I share Joni’s passion for our mission and I’m looking forward to helping CTP continue as an enduring model of employment training for people with disabilities.
I am very proud to have been appointed as the Interim Executive Director. I have spent these past 15 years at CTP committed to the mission of improving the lives of people with disabilities just as CTP did for me. My journey began as a student in the COBOL training program in January 1999. During the course of the training I fell in love with CTP and when I graduated I was excited to become an instructor here. Over the years I have revamped old classes and developed whole new training programs, managed the day-to-day operations and I am now ready to take on a leadership role.
Our goal is always the same – to help people with disabilities get jobs.
At CTP we know how crucial it is for us to stay relevant to the needs of our students.
In order to do this we need training programs which are well-suited to each student and we must be knowledgeable and realistic about the employment market.
Our new youth-oriented OST ‘PRO’ – Professional Retail and Office skills training, is a perfect example of adapting to the times. Increasingly we are finding that young people with disabilities are graduating from high school but are not ready to go to college or work, setting them up for a life of dependence. Although this problem is widely recognized there are few services that directly address the issue. We designed our ‘PRO’ class to provide the most practical, hands-on skills that are needed in entry-level employment.
Is it working? Here is a story of one of our recent students.
Jane, a young adult in our OST PRO workplace training program, was a recent high school graduate. Like many graduates of special education programs, her high school experience had not prepared her for work and in fact had not instilled in her any sort of hope of being successful. Last year she lost both of her parents and had little extended family who could help her. Out of necessity she became a caretaker for a family member while doing babysitting jobs on the side to earn money.
Her lack of self-confidence and learning disability hindered her ability to break the cycle of poverty. When she came to CTP she could not even afford a haircut.
While Jane was at CTP we worked with her to understand what jobs would best suit her and helped to develop her workplace skills. She also learned the importance of life skills such as time management, planning and follow through.
After Jane’s training was complete she began a job search and before long she had a job interview scheduled. She worked with a staff member to practice for the interview and she also pre-planned her transportation. As it turned out there was an accident at BART the day of her interview and BART was not running. Since she planned for potential transportation problems she had enough time to call us for help. A staff member drove her to the interview and she got the job!
Jane believed that she could be successful, so she tried.
She asked for help and we were there for her.
With CTP’s help Jane has been able to bridge the gap between a life of dependence and poverty to independence and self-sufficiency. Her new job is more than just money to her. It has helped her develop a sense of self-worth and belief that she has something positive to contribute to society.
Simple planning that she learned at CTP, and people who cared for her, changed her life.
This is what CTP does every day.
Our students today face harsh realities surviving in the Bay Area solely on government benefits, or with only the support of family and friends.
You can help! Your donation allows us to provide life changing services for people with disabilities. Employment opportunities are the only way to raise people out of poverty and into a life of financial independence. Just as the cost of living in the Bay Area has increased for all of us, the cost of providing our services has increased as well. Even with these increased costs we serve more people now than at any time in the past 40-years.
Your tax-deductible donation will insure that people with disabilities continue to receive the support to achieve independence in their lives through viable employment.
Give online on our Support Our Work page.
On behalf of the CTP staff, Board of Directors and current students, I wish you all very Happy Holidays.
Interim Executive Director