With Just-A-Buck officially closing its doors on March 31, many of its former disabled employees were once again sent on the search for employment.
Just-A-Buck in New Paltz was run by the Arc of Ulster-Greene, a non-profit organization that provides job training opportunities for disabled people to help them gain work experience, inclusion within their community and the opportunity to develop connections with local businesses. The Arc of Ulster-Greene also has partnerships with businesses and locations such as Field Goods, Greene County, Hannaford, TenBroeck Commons and the Towns of Marbletown and Rosendale at the Rondout Valley Municipal Center.
According to the Senior Director of Communications & Development, Lori McCabe, many of the former Just-A-Buck employees have been employed at other venues within the New Paltz area. However a parent of a recently laid-off employee claims her son is still seeking employment.
“Employees there were always kind [and] always willing to help. Plus, everything was a dollar,” said Tim Court, Carmel resident and sibling of a former Just-A-Buck employee.
An anonymous New Paltz resident said that her son worked at Just-A-Buck and is currently looking for a new job and she described the process of getting him a job to be very difficult.
“Most entry level jobs have online applications so, without much or very little experience they aren’t even called for an interview,” she said.
Gov. Cuomo signed the Employment First executive order on Sept. 17, 2014. The order was an attempt to support the employment of individuals with disabilities. The employment rate for disabled New Yorkers was 31.2 percent while the employment rate among those without disabilities was 72 percent, creating a 40.8 percent employment gap in the state.
In addition, the poverty rate among the disabled community in New York was 28.6 percent, which is twice as high compared to the poverty rate of the 12.3 percent for those without disabilities.
In March 2017, Gov. Cuomo’s Employment First policy and the Office for People with Development Disabilities (OPWDD) launched EmployAbility, a toolkit for businesses that provides information on financial and tax incentives, why hiring disabled employees is good for business and where to find qualified employees.
According to the OPWDD, in October 2018 businesses’ in New York were encouraged to take the EmployAbility pledge in order to demonstrate their business’ commitment to inclusivity “by employing qualified individuals with disabilities and providing everyone full opportunities to be [their] patrons and customers.”
Currently, about 50 businesses have taken the EmployAbility pledge.
New Paltz resident, Jessica Greenstein, has a son with autism who receives services through the Arc of Ulster-Greene and is upset by the loss of Just-A-Buck because she had hoped that her son would gain work experience there one day.
“[Just-A-Buck] offered [their employees] valuable opportunities to develop job skills and meaningful work experience,” Greenstein said. “[The] loss of the store is a loss to those with disabilities in our community. That store offered more than just bagging groceries and corralling grocery carts in the parking lot.”