WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y.-- Brooke Drexler nearly fell out of her chair when Rae Lester, Executive Assistant to David Singer, approached her about having people from the YAI Network serve as interns for the company.
Drexler manages corporate relations and volunteer opportunities for YAI, a Manhattan-based organization that provides hope and opportunity to people of all ages with developmental disabilities.
"We do a lot of reaching out to try to get businesses involved," Drexler said. "The fact that they contacted us showed that they have a strong interest and understanding. They totally get our mission."
Robison has also provided internship opportunities for Yonkers-based DayBreak Services. DayBreak provides individualized support services and programs for individuals living with developmental disabilities.
David Singer, President of Robison and a prominent leader in the community, is involved in many local charities and nonprofit organizations throughout Westchester County. "When the opportunity to team up with YAI and Daybreak was brought to my attention, I immediately thought that it aligned with our mission to be involved with our local community firsthand in order to create a positive change. We are very grateful to be able to work with YAI Network and Daybreak in creating this mutually beneficial experience," said Singer.
"It was a good fit for us right from the start," said Liz Girardat, an employment specialist for DayBreak. "They contacted me, and within a week we had people working there. They had some experience working with this population, so this was something that was not new to them."
People from YAI and DayBreak handle light office duties for Robison, such as filing, data entry, putting together information packets, labeling and front desk support. They work 3-4 hours one day a week, and Robison provides them with lunch.
"These internships are beneficial for getting employment," Drexler said. “It gives them some work experience so that they are more competitive when they apply for jobs.”
Drexler and Girardat said Robison employees have easily assimilated the interns into the workplace. "They’re able to work together well," Girardat said. "The company has been very welcoming and made them feel comfortable. It’s been a real positive experience."
Aside from the skills acquired by the YAI and DayBreak workers, they also feel valued as employees and people. "It gives them a sense of productivity and independence that they’re gaining skills," Drexler said. "It gives them a background in an area that they want to pursue."
Drexler said the working relationship between YAI and Robison is a "win-win" for both parties. The company gets a few more productive hands around the office and people in YAI and DayBreak get job experience.
"They’re as open minded and innovative as any business we’ve worked with," Drexler said. "They provide that platform and we’re so appreciative. It shows that Robison is a real leader in the community."