Second Chances — Standing Up for What We Believe

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”  — Martin Luther King Jr.

At Fedcap we stand for second chances. We believe that with hard work, tomorrow can be better than today. We stand for the Power of Possible.  This commitment is woven throughout the fabric of our agency—and drives us every single day.  For us, a second chance is the next step on a person’s journey to fulfilling their dreams of a better life.

Many of the people who come through our doors, many of the people in the systems we serve, and many of the people we hire, have struggled—for one reason or other. Some have wrestled with a substance use disorder, some have criminal records, and some have crawled across harsh land to find a new life in our country. We are committed to providing them with a second chance.

Statistics bear out that the majority of the time, those in recovery, those who were previously incarcerated, and those who immigrated from another country are responsible, trustworthy and dependable employees. These are individuals who have built strong resilience and who have overcome their past, with intention and purpose. They have much to lose by not succeeding on the job, and they know it.

The employer who offers an individual a second chance is modeling for its employees, other employers and for society as a whole, the values we all should strive for and stand for.

When we combined with Wildcat in 2011, we did so because of their pioneering efforts to provide a second chance to individuals involved in the criminal justice system.  Their history became part of our future.  Our innovative work within Rikers providing clinical, educational and workforce readiness services is resulting in men leaving jail ready to work.  And our exciting Women’s Project, funded in part by Robin Hood and the Open Society Foundation, helps women who are detained at Rikers due to lack of bail money, get out and find a job, a home and a future.

Throughout The Fedcap Group, we hire people both from within our programs and from without who have paid their dues, served their time, and who are entitled to a second chance. Who among us has not made a mistake—sometimes with great consequence—and has learned and grown as a result? Why should those who have struggled not be given a chance to contribute and to bring the resilience, the growth, the learning, and the clear and unwavering commitment to do better? We stand firm in our belief that offering a second chance is the right thing to do.

Our Executive Team completed a four-day retreat in late August.  During our discussion, each of us articulated our personal values and recommitted to our organizational values; we made clear what we stood for. We discussed at length the importance of standing for something, and then living by those principles, especially when others may judge us for our stance.

There are causes in need of trumpeting and the importance of providing second chances is one of them.  I firmly believe that failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker.

I challenge all of us, including employers in every sector—from retail to big business to non-profits to government to charitable organizations—to summon the integrity to support those in our society who are fighting for a second chance.   I think you’ll find, as we do here at The Fedcap Group, that these are employees who demonstrate their loyalty by going over and above, taking full advantage of the opportunity, and giving their very best efforts to do valuable work.

Will you stand with us and commit to supporting those who deserve a second chance?

Christine McMahon

President and CEO, Fedcap

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CWS and Stoughton Expand Worksites

Two new simulation sites are being set up by CWS in Boston and Stoughton. These sites will access and train individuals with disabilities to be hired into permanent, part-time positions at competitive wages. CWS will be working closely with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Council and other providers for candidate referrals.

 (Pictured Right to Left:  Craig Stenning, Senior VP, New England Region; Tanya Figelman, Director of Programs and Services, CWS New England; Lyell Ritchie, VP of Strategic Development; and Casey Lutz, Assoc. Director of Business Development and Quality Improvement, CWS New England.)

(Pictured Right to Left:  Craig Stenning, Senior VP, New England Region; Tanya Figelman, Director of Programs and Services, CWS New England; Lyell Ritchie, VP of Strategic Development; and Casey Lutz, Assoc. Director of Business Development and Quality Improvement, CWS New England.)

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9th Annual Boston Chili Cup

On Thursday, February 15th close to 200 people attended the 9th Annual Boston Chili Cup, an event to benefit Community Work Services’ culinary program. Held at Ned Devine’s Irish Pub, the Chili Cup attracted 13 restaurants competing to earn a prize for the best chili in Boston. The lively crowd, including friends, donors and supporters of CWS, sampled the delicious fare while being entertained by a DJ and participating in a raffle. Causeway Restaurant and Bar, a three-time Chili Cup winner, was again voted the best chili in Boston.

The event was sponsored by The Briar Group, a longtime supporter of CWS and the Chili Cup. We are grateful for the ongoing support of Austin O’Connor, President and CEO of the Briar Group, and Dessie Kerins, the company’s Director of Operations. Thanks are also due to event co-sponsors Kimpton Hotels, Corona Beers and Tito’s Handmade Vodka. The CWS board, as it always does, played a huge role in supporting this event and making it a great success. Thanks to the entire CWS board and those in attendance including Oliver Spalding, Steve DeSalvo, and former board member Hannah Huke. A special shout out to Paul Davis for his ongoing sponsorship of this event, and leadership as board chair.

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CWS Celebrates 140 Years
 CWS Executive Director Craig Stenning bestows the Lifetime Achievement and Advocacy Award for Individuals with Disabilities to Jim Brett, alongside Board Chair Paul Davis and former Executive Director Serena Powell.  View more photos from the event.

CWS Executive Director Craig Stenning bestows the Lifetime Achievement and Advocacy Award for Individuals with Disabilities to Jim Brett, alongside Board Chair Paul Davis and former Executive Director Serena Powell. View more photos from the event.

On Thursday November 9th, CWS celebrated its 140th anniversary at the Omni Parker House Rooftop Ballroom in Boston. The spirited event honored an organization that has stayed relevant for 140 years through continuous innovation, and meeting the needs of the individuals and families that it serves. 

For 140 years, CWS has been a beacon of hope and light for thousands of individuals where hope might not have existed,” said CWS board chair Paul Davis. Link should go here.

In a testament to the longevity of the agency and the continuity of its leadership, Paul thanked seven former board chairs for their service; Robert Fawls, Joy Camp, Oliver Spalding, Joe DiLorenzo, Robert Hurwitz, Howard Wayne, and Alan Walis.

A highlight of the evening was an appearance by Collette Divitto, a young woman with Down Syndrome. Collette loves to bake, and while she struggled to find a job, she offered cookies to each of her interviewers. After a Boston TV station aired a story about her, within 10 days she had over 9.5 million views on Facebook, received over 65,000 letters from around the world, and had orders for over 50,000 cookies. She has since been featured on CBS Nightly News and Good Morning America.

CWS and Collette have formed a partnership, in which CWS provides kitchen space for baking. As her business expands, Collette plans to hire other people with disabilities.

Two other remarkable consumers spoke about how CWS impacted their lives. Sebastian Newman, a 17-year-old high school student who has Down Syndrome, was unsure what he wanted to do after graduation. After meetings with Jim Brett sparked an interest in politics, he began an internship with Cambridge City Councilman Marc McGovern. Joao De Toledo, a 17-year-old with physical and developmental disabilities, is also considering a career in politics – an interest he identified after joining the CWS Pathways program. Joao is passionate about immigration reform, health care and affordable housing, and is currently interning with Somerville Alderman Matt McLaughlin.

Jim Brett, the evening’s honoree and recipient of CWS’ inaugural Lifetime Achievement and Advocacy Award for Individuals with Disabilities, spoke movingly about his brother Jack, who was born with disabilities and was not expected to live long. Jim, his parents and five siblings cared for Jack, who lived a productive and happy life into adulthood.

"We all have a responsibility to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities,” Jim said. “They have a right to participate fully in work, in life, and in the fabric of our community."

After his speech, Jim graciously thanked the sponsors of the event: Georgiana Goddard Eaton Memorial Fund; Marble Harbor Investment Counsel, LLC; HYM Investments Group; Fidelity Charitable Fund; Bank of America Foundation, and United Way of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley.

In closing, CWS Executive Director Craig Stenning reflected on the agency’s storied history, while looking to a bright future. “The CWS story of 140 years is truly inspiring and I come to work every day understanding the challenge that I have been given to continue this story. As I watch our participants work so hard to improve their lives, it motivates me to work that much harder to continue to make CWS the finest agency in this region.”

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