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Gov. Patrick touts work programs in visit to New Bridge on the Charles

Posted by Natalie Feulner  February 17, 2012 10:00 AM

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Governor Deval Patrick speaks at New Bridge on the Charles in Dedham Thursday afternoon. Photo by Natalie Feulner

Governor Deval Patrick expressed his support for programs that help young adults with disabilities find work during a luncheon at New Bridge on the Charles retirement community in Dedham Thursday afternoon.

After apologizing for being late for the gathering, Patrick discussed the community-supported Transitions to Work program, saying it exemplifies the type of in-job training needed in today’s economy.

“Programs such as Transitions to Work empower our workforce while supplying employers with skilled, dedicated workers prepared to contribute to the Massachusetts economy,” he said. “I am grateful to the collaborators for creating such an innovative program that will strengthen our workforce and give us tools to compete in the global marketplace.”

Transitions to Work is a partnership involving Jewish Vocational Services, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, and the Ruderman Family Foundation that works to give people with disabilities the opportunity to learn skills in areas of need at the retirement community.

During a walking tour of the campus, participants in the program explained to visitors what type of work they do and how it has helped them.

“I like it, and these are good skills to learn,” said Dimitrity Melikhov, who works in the New Bridge kitchen. “The people are good to me -- the staff and the residents.”

Each adult in the program participates in an internship in which they learn a variety of skills, such as how to dress for work, show up on time, and how specifically to perform the job they will do for three months.

One mother at the event Thursday said the program has changed her son’s life and helped him secure a part-time job.

“We’ve had ups and downs like you can’t even imagine" with her son, Benjamin, Deborah Winnick said tearfully. “But this has been about as up as it could have ever been. It has changed his life.”

And as she walked by her son at work in the kitchen during one of the tours, Winnick snapped pictures and beamed.

“Never in a million years would I have thought I’d see that,” she said.

Natalie Feulner can be reached at natalie.feulner@gmail.com.

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