As the new executive director of ACLD (Adults and Children with Learning and Developmental Disabilities), Robert Goldsmith plans to set up a business in which developmentally disabled employees can thrive.
Goldsmith was recruited last month from AHRC Nassau, where he developed the company E-Works Electronic Services Inc. His workforce, which includes disabled employees, learned to disassemble and audit computers for clients such as Morgan Stanley and Time Warner. To sell services to clients, he set up a demonstration workroom to show that his employees could handle the required job responsibilities.
Goldsmith, who holds master's degrees from New York University and LIU Post, found his affinity for working with the disabled at 15, when he worked at a day camp for the developmentally disabled.
What are you doing to research the Long Island job market?
I am taking a number of meetings with businesses on Long Island and researching the next iteration of a business that will be able to hire people with [and without] disabilities. The beauty of ACLD is that they have the largest supportive employment program on Long Island. We now want to extend that to create our own business where we will be able to employ other individuals that are going to be graduating from schools or looking for jobs.
How do you train developmentally disabled people?
The same way you train a typical person. The only difference might be . . . you do more task analysis, which means that you break the activities into smaller increments and then build them up to the capacity of the individual.
Would the company's funding go back to ACLD?
No, the idea is, if it's a separate business, the money would go to support the workers. We provide benefits to the workers and salaries for the workers. [They] would get minimum wage or above.
And they would come home with money in their pockets?
That's the objective, absolutely. Every life is valuable.
What sets the disabled apart as employees?
They are probably the best workers a company can hire. It could be eight feet of snow outside and they'll want to find a way to go to work because they appreciate that someone is giving them a job and they want to keep that job.
What kind of contacts are you trying to make?
I am looking to meet with anyone that has a staffing need and an open mind about the potential of people that have special needs, because there are so many perceptions that are so untrue. They can be your best employees.
NAME: Robert Goldsmith, executive director of ACLD (Adults and Children with Learning and Developmental Disabilities Inc.) in Bethpage
WHAT IT DOES: Provides support services, health care, employment, independent living and group homes for individuals with autism and developmental disabilities
EMPLOYEES: 1,000 full time; 100 part time
REVENUE: $60 million to $61 million