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"Who" Cares ? - Jean Bellon

jean ballonWorking at The Arc Rockland has expanded Jean Bellon’s horizons in ways she never expected.

Hired initially as a driver for participants in one of The Arc Rockland’s employment programs, she has been promoted to Community Specialist. In her current positon, she works with individuals in the Supported Employment Program headquartered in Congers.

“This is the perfect job, and it came about at the perfect time in my life,” she says.

While raising her children, Ms. Bellon spent 15 years as a school bus driver in Rockland County. Four years ago, with both her children off to college, she was looking for a change. Armed with a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and some experience driving children with developmental disabilities, she answered an ad placed by The Arc seeking a driver.

“As soon as I walked into this building for my interview, it just felt right,” notes Ms. Bellon. “Now the job has evolved into something that enables me to help individuals embark on their own careers and watch them grow in terms of their skills and accomplishments. I love it.”

Ms. Bellon is one of three CDL /Community Specialists at The Arc. “In addition to driving, we talk to the individuals about their work goals, evaluate their skills and help them with job searches based on those skills and goals. We also talk about work issues such as punctuality, safety and courtesy.”

To prepare Ms. Bellon for her new role, The Arc encouraged her to attend a program called Innovations, sponsored by several area agencies that help people with developmental disabilities. “We meet in small groups to brainstorm ways of better getting to know the people we support and finding jobs to match their interests,” she explains. The job searches are usually done online, but sometimes Ms. Bellon stops when spotting a Help Wanted sign and goes into the establishment to inquire about the position.

“It’s exciting to see the individuals go through the process from the beginning: discussing goals, looking for a job, applying, having an interview. Then when they get the job, I enjoy driving them back and forth to work, watching them start off with the help of a job coach, learning each task, and progressing to working on their own with minimal oversight. I love seeing their reaction when getting their first paycheck.”

Theresa Dos Santos, Assistant Director of Supported Employment Services (SEMP) at The Arc, notes that Ms. Bellon has developed a rapport with the people she supports. “Jeannie communicates well with each individual. She always has a positive attitude.”

For Ms. Bellon, that positive attitude is a direct result of the satisfaction she derives from her work. “Every day is different,” she notes. “People always surprise me. One woman, for example, started her employment needing quite a bit of help. First she learned how to swipe her ID card, and then, slowly learned each step of her job. But now she is so adept that she takes a picture of her work schedule and texts it to us so we can work out her transportation. I think that’s so cool.

“The individuals I come in contact with are eager to share their life stories with me, and I share mine with them. They challenge me, they humble me, and every day I go home with a smile. I only wish I had done this years ago."

The Arc Rockland has partnered with the Empire State Purchasing Group. Vendors may submit bids electronically. Please visit https://www.bidnetdirect.com/new-york/arc-of-rockland for RFP and bidding opportunities.

Thank You to The Arc Rockland’s 2021 Corporate Sponsors:

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