By: New York Collaborates for Autism and Arc of Westchester
Pictured above: Paul Stein, Yonkers Assistant District Attorney, with Geoff, PSCA graduate.
The Yonkers District Attorney’s office is one of the many employers in the Westchester area that has hired a graduate of the high school to employment transition program, Project SEARCH Collaborates for Autism. With Arc of Westchester’s help, Geoff, a member of the 2014 graduating class, began working at the Yonkers District Attorney’s Office in May. He stood out among other applicants because of his willingness to learn and his undeniable enthusiasm for the job opportunity. Paul Stein, Assistant District Attorney explains, “I was pleasantly surprised by Geoff. Your instinct is to go easy on him but then you realize you really don’t have to.”
Geoff is responsible for contributing to the day-to-day operations of the office by serving as a liaison among the seven lawyers and four courtrooms to deliver and file court documents. With over 8,000 court cases circulating through the Yonkers DA’s office each year, the importance of timely filing is crucial. “The system is not easy here and most of the time there is a lot of activity, as there would be in any major city’s District Attorney’s office,” explains Mr. Stein. “Anybody who helps us keep track of files is a great asset to this office.” In this fast paced environment, Geoff remains focused on his work and the tasks that he is given each day. Since hiring Geoff, the Yonkers District Attorney’s office has “gotten a guy who has a positive attitude and always works hard. He takes direction well and is willing to do what is asked of him.”
The court officers, police officers and judges within the Yonkers office have gotten to know Geoff and have welcomed him as part of the team. According to Mr. Stein, “Everyone looks out for Geoff and knows his name. If he ever did lose his way, someone would always make sure he was pointed in the right direction.”
Mr. Stein offers an important message to potential employers that are considering hiring an individual with autism. “You don’t have to be afraid of the diagnosis. A lot of people don’t know what it means. Everyone is different and as long as the individual can handle your work environment then you’re going to get an employee who is grateful for the opportunity and who is going to be productive. That’s really all you can ask out of anybody, whether they have autism or not.”
*PSCA was created by New York Collaborates for Autism in partnership with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Arc of Westchester, Southern Westchester BOCES and ACCES-VR. PSCA is built on the Project SEARCH program created at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
Photo credit: Eric Vitale