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National Poetry Contest Winners - Disability in the Workplace

  • Published: 2010-04-19 : Author: Fedcap
  • Synopsis: Words about Work! is a national poetry contest that was open to adults and children and sponsored by Fedcap.

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Disability in the Workplace National Poetry Contest Winners Announced - Words about Work! Poets Reflect on Employment and Disability during National Poetry Month and Poem in Your Pocket Day Contest.

Fedcap Rehabilitation Services, Inc. (Fedcap) is excited to announce the winners of its Words about Work! writing contest focusing on overcoming barriers and disabilities in the workplace. Our grand prize winners are Heather Lee Dyer, a mother of two and Lupus survivor, who works for the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections and lives outside of Boise, ID and Adam Sullivan, a ten-year-old fifth grader from Harrison, NJ. Each winner has had significant experience with how a disability can affect employment, and in turn, other aspects of life.

Words about Work! is a national poetry contest that was open to adults and children and sponsored by Fedcap - a nonprofit dedicated to providing vocational training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities and other barriers. Contestants were asked to submit poems or essays on what work means to them and how they have overcome barriers to work. Entries were judged by an independent panel of poets and writers from the Yale Club Poetry Group. The winners, runners up, and honorable mentions can be found at

"Through the Words about Work! contest, Fedcap is giving voice to the significant employment-related barriers that people with disabilities face every day," said Mark O'Donoghue, Chair of Fedcap's Board of Directors. "In a time of ever rising unemployment and challenging economic conditions, we can't forget how important diversity in the workplace is and how much people with disabilities have to contribute."

"Fedcap creates over 1,000 jobs for people facing barriers every year," said Christine McMahon, Fedcap's President and CEO. "We are inspired by our Words about Work! contestants. Their words speak powerfully about how work can transform lives. Heather Dyer's words speak about an invisible disability and how this affects her life at her job; ten-year-old Adam Sullivan's words reveal hidden insights into how he copes with his mother's disability; Christina Dunams's words insist that losing your hearing doesn't stop you from following your dreams; Ellen Denton's words focus on how work gave her father with Alzheimer's clarity for a brief and wonderful moment; Gayle Tauger's words reflect on her work with people with HIV; and Ruth Krinsky's words talk about the dignity that comes with a paycheck. Fedcap provides the training and supports necessary to provide the foundations of independence for so many people facing barriers to work who so often do not have a voice. Together with our hiring partners in business and government, their words about work will be heard."

Fedcap will host a poetry reading featuring the Words about Work! winners and contestants on Sunday, April 25 at the Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery, on Manhattan's Lower East Side. The cost is $15 and proceeds benefit Fedcap's job training programs. The reading is taking place as part of National Poetry Month and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Poem in Your Pocket Day Celebrations. Members of the public are asked to bring a poem to read about overcoming obstacles to work. The event will be webcast live at

Fedcap's Words about Work! Runners up:

Shani Caldwell-Schwab, Montclair, NJ

Constance M. Gemson, New York, NY

Ruth W. Krinsky, New York, NY

Fedcap's Words about Work! Children's Honorable Mention:

Kevon Jefferson, Brooklyn, NY

Kareece Lebrun, Brooklyn, NY

Ruhejami Mustari, Brooklyn, NY

Fedcap's Words about Work! Adult Honorable Mention:

Ellen B. Denton, North Hills, CA

Christina Dunams, Woodside, NY

Amber Herrick, Portland, OR

Yvonne M. Jones, Philadelphia, PA

Mary Koan, New York, NY

Genevieve Olivia Joyner, Nashville, TN

Pamela D. Swann, New York, NY

Roberta Swann, New York, NY

E. Gayle Tauger, Staten Island, NY

Debra J. White, Tempe, AZ

About Fedcap

Founded in 1935, Fedcap is a national leader in providing comprehensive vocational services and employment for people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. Fedcap helps America work. Through training, job placement, and socially responsible outsourcing services to business and government, Fedcap has helped thousands of people transform their lives and successfully enter the workforce.

Fedcap graduates obtain jobs at private companies or with Fedcap. The majority of the jobs we are able to offer are made possible through the New York State Preferred Source Program, ACCSES NJ and CNA Services, and the federal AbilityOne Program. Fedcap also operates a licensed home health care agency and Chelton Loft, a clubhouse for people with severe and persistent mental illness. For more information, or to make a donation, call 212-727-4200 or visit

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