FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE –– St. Lawrence NYSARC, a private, non-profit organization committed to maximizing the potential of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, is proud to announce that Northland Veterinary Hospital in Gouverneur has been honored as a “Works For Me” business by the NYS Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).
When Wilma Carpenter was unable to work for almost a year following major surgery, her bosses at Northland Veterinary Hospital in Gouverneur shifted around duties until she could return. “We didn’t want to lose Wilma,” says Office Manager Diane Cotter.
That kind of loyalty is one reflection of the bond between Carpenter and her employers. Veterinarian Dr. Timothy J. Monroe focuses on ability when he hires staff, and he strives to help people reach their potential. As a result, his practice is one of five businesses state-wide that was honored by OPWDD. The Veterinary Hospital was nominated by St. Lawrence NYSARC’s Career Opportunities program as a Small Business of the Year because of Dr. Monroe’s commitment to workforce diversity. He has been involved in supported employment since 1988.
“I hired people with developmental disabilities before and during Wilma’s time here. Everyone has been dependable and appreciative. I have no hesitation to hire a person with a disability,” Monroe says.
The job has been a perfect match for Carpenter, who loves animals and is as attuned to their needs as to her co-workers. While her title is Kennel Room Attendant, she does a wide range of tasks, cheerfully and efficiently. She keeps the animal quarters spotless, is affectionate with the pets, and teases her co-workers about completing her tasks before they do.
Carpenter says, “In the morning, I let the dogs out and I fill their buckets with water and feed. I clean the kennels and do the dishes and the laundry. And I sweep the floors.”
Cotter adds, “Wilma is attuned to the animals’ needs and lets us know how they are doing. She’s very reliable and is flexible about switching hours if someone is off.”
Carpenter, age 50, is happy with her job and proud to do her best. Between working and taking care of her mother, she also has been taking reading lessons. “I want to better myself,” she says firmly. “I want to be the best I can, and don’t want people to have to read the medicine labels for me.”
Her SLNYSARC job coach, Jessie Wentzel, notes that Carpenter is well prepared for and happy with her job. The income is always welcome, but working gives her coping skills for her personal life as well. She maintains a home on her parents’ property, drives a car, and is devoted to caring for her mother. Her father died two years ago.
“My sister and brother-in-law came to the ceremony in Albany when we got this award,” Carpenter says. “They were proud of me. I know my mother is too, and my dad would be.”
In outlining the event, OPWDD Acting Commissioner Kerry Delaney issued a statement: “We are honoring employers who hire and support people with disabilities as well as make them part of the business fabric. These employers have been selected because they understand hiring people with developmental disabilities makes good business sense. They have chosen to see a person’s abilities and contributions, before any disability.”
In celebration of March as national Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, St. Lawrence NYSARC recognizes the hard work and dedication of approximately 4 million Americans, including 300,000 New Yorkers, who have developmental disabilities. For more information about supported employment through St. Lawrence NYSARC, people may contact Francis McDougal at the Career Opportunities office, 315-379-0441 or visit www.slnysarc.org.
1. Wilma Carpenter with an office cat at Northland Veterinary Hospital, 248 West Barney St., Gouverneur.
2. Dr. Timothy Monroe of Northland Veterinary Hospital, Office Manager Diane Cotter, 23-year employee Wilma Carpenter, and Jessie Wentzel of the Career Opportunities Office of St. Lawrence NYSARC. The NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities honored the veterinary business for its support of hiring people with disabilities.
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About St. Lawrence NYSARC:
St. Lawrence NYSARC exists as a non-profit membership association dedicated to full inclusion and integration for persons with intellectual and other developmental disabilities within our communities. The Agency’s mission is to offer individuals and their families an opportunity to achieve self-determined goals and provide life-long learning opportunities.
Assistant Executive Director of Community Relations
St. Lawrence NYSARC