Geneseo’s Stephen Rose is living his dream and receiving statewide recognition for his achievements in the workplace thanks to NYSID Preferred Source employment provided through The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming’s Hilltop Business Services work program.
“Cleaning is my dream job,” he says, when asked to picture himself in his ideal career. “So maybe you could say that my goal would be to clean at someplace fancy or famous – like the White House. But I would definitely be cleaning, just like I do now.”
While he is presently located far from the nation’s capital (about 350 miles!), Stephen gives clients nothing less than the Presidential treatment when providing comprehensive janitorial solutions. He works four days a week vacuuming, scrubbing, and scouring workspace and bathrooms at area Department of Transportation, Doty Day Treatment, and Arc Day Habilitation buildings. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I just love to clean,” Stephen explains. “It makes me happy, it keeps me busy, and it’s not as noisy as other environments. I am the kind of person who likes a bit of quiet.”
For his dedication and results within his chosen career field, Stephen was picked this September by NYSID as one of 51 New Yorkers to be recognized in the organization’s Joslin Outstanding Performance Award Program. As an Outstanding Performer, Stephen received an award certificate and a $500 cash award.
Short for New York State Industries for the Disabled, NYSID is a not-for-profit membership organization with a mission of advancing employment and other opportunities for individuals with disabilities; its Preferred Source Program serves to advance special social and economic goals related to the employment of New Yorkers with disabilities.
Hilltop Business Services is the vocational program of The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming, the largest provider of services for individuals with disabilities in this area, and a local NYSID member agency.
Prior to his employment under the NYSID Preferred Source contracts, Stephen worked at a local convenience store. Although he received an award in 2005 for his outstanding work there, Stephen always favored the janitorial aspects over the customer service requirements of that job.
“Work choice is a critically important aspect of a vocational program like Hilltop,” says Hilltop Director Kellie Kennedy. “We help connect people to jobs that are the right fit for their interests as well as their abilities. Stephen is a flexible worker with a track record of success, but he particularly excels at cleaning. As a NYSID member agency, we are able to link Stephen to his career of choice, where he provides world class service to satisfied customers.”
That type of workplace fulfillment opens a world of possibilities for Stephen.
“Without this job, I’d probably be doing very badly,” he says. “I probably wouldn’t have a place to live, and my mom doesn’t have room for me. My brother has four kids that already fill up her house. So where would I go?”
Stephen, who is 42 years old, has lived independently in Geneseo’s Brookside Apartments since 2002, first with his wife, and now in a single unit since their split in 2010. His mom lives close by – about 15 minutes north, in York – but Stephen manages the bulk of his finances on his own. He balances a budget that includes rent, utilities, and cell phone expenses.
For Stephen, money is a means to an end. He adheres to the adage “money can’t buy happiness,” while using the income that he generates to assist the people who are close to his heart.
“Sure, earning money feels pretty good. But the best parts for me are the achievements,” Stephen says. “Money is money, but achieving something good is more important to me than plain money. I’d rather focus on my achievements and my family’s achievements.”
For Stephen, “achievements” include building his social skills, learning more about himself, and knowing that he’s doing a good job at work and as part of the community.
“I’m a very good friend,” Stephen says. “I help my friends when they need it. I would do anything for them, like helping my neighbor carry groceries up the stairs, or watching my friends’ children when they need help.”
Stephen also puts a high priority on being a good dad. His son, Anthony, lives a half hour away, with his mother and her family in Castile. Stephen and Anthony see each other whenever possible, and part of Stephen’s paycheck always goes towards Anthony’s needs and wants.
“I worry about him,” Stephen says. “I work to make sure that he has nice things, like clothes for school. I’m very proud to have a son who loves me. And he’s really smart. In 6th grade, he was doing 7th grade math. That’s how smart he is.”
Best of all for Stephen, Anthony is achievement-focused, just like his dad.
“He likes sports, but he’s more into the Boy Scouts,” Stephen says. “He’s doing a lot of good.”
When Stephen isn’t spending time with family and friends, he enjoys quiet time relaxing. He has also been active in Special Olympics, where his specialties include softball and basketball.
“One time, we got to play against the Syracuse Orangemen basketball team,” he recalls, laughing. “These were really big guys, and we got our butts kicked. They were dunking on us and everything. We played our hearts out, but we still couldn’t beat them.”
From a spectator sport perspective, Stephen likes football. His favorite team is the Dallas Cowboys, and he has a collection of memorabilia and clothing that celebrate the franchise.
Stephen cites quarterback Troy Aikman and running back Emmitt Smith among his favorite players, for their MVP contributions to the Cowboys’ Super Bowl victories in the mid-1990s. As is customary, the team was invited to visit the White House after each of those wins. If only Stephen were with them in more than just spirit, he might be one step closer to achieving his employment dream of cleaning for a sitting President.
“That would be cool,” he says. “But I love the job that I have right here, too.”