Finding a job nowadays isn't easy. But it's doubly hard if you have a mental disability, especially if you can't read or write and have no resumé or job experience.
Robert Del Castillo and Assisted Employment Services, his Miami-based nonprofit, face this fight every day. And despite waning funds, they've helped more than 200 people with disabilities get jobs since 2006, he says.
"These individuals only ask for a part-time job," he says. "They want to do something."
Assisted Employment Services
Del Castillo and his company help them from the ground up: If a client has never done an interview, they set up practices and help fill out applications. If a client doesn't have a way to get to a job, the company will buy a bus pass. If that doesn't work, Del Castillo says, sometimes he and his colleagues will do the driving themselves.
And once clients find positions, Assisted Employment can send job coaches, free of charge, to help train the workers until they can do the job on their own.
"A lot of people don't realize how hard this is," Del Castillo says. "They need to know how to mop a floor, how to stock inventory."
According to 52-year-old Assisted Employment client Vinny Ammirato, Castillo cares about helping, unlike agencies that simply want to "get paid when you get paid."
"I was in a bad way," Ammirato says. "What I needed from him was not so much getting me the jobs, but that I had someone to speak to about getting back into the market... A trainer for a boxer is the best way I can describe it."
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Del Castillo says the company is doing everything it can to bring in enough funding to cover monthly costs, and he's looking for even the smallest donations to help keep the wheels turning. Assisted Employment "used to be on top," he explains, until the economic downturn drove away grant money and private donations.
"We're not out here trying to make a buck. We're trying to survive," he says. "It's just running out." Donation information is available at assistedemployment.com.
After an interview, Ammirato called back one more time. He had thought of something else about Del Castillo.
"Do the right thing for the guy. He's one of the good ones."