Asperger Works Inc. Finds a Home
NILP Donates Office Space to Fledgling Nonprofit
City Councilor Nilka Alvarez-Rodriguez reads Lawrence City Council’s proclamation honoring Asperger Works
(l-r: Thomas Wood, Lisa Rajczyk, Adam Rajczyk, Eva Rajczyk, Daniel Rajczyk, Nilka Alvarez-Rodriguez, & Richard Rodriguez)
photo courtesy of Rich Russell
LAWRENCE, MA, August 1, 2016 – Asperger Works, Inc., a local not-for-profit charitable organization finally has a place to hang its proverbial hat. The Northeast Independent Living Program (NILP) has donated office space to the fledgling organization at its renovated headquarters at 20 Ballard Road in Lawrence. “We believe in Asperger Works’ clear and defined mission to educate employers and community members about the employment challenges facing adults living with Asperger’s Syndrome,” says, NILP’s Executive Director June Sauvageau. She cites the high levels of unemployment and underemployment of individuals with “competitive” skills as a major reason for NILP stepping up to the plate. “We are united with our brothers and sisters of the Asperger’s Community. Freedom to earn and learn and live in our communities is a civil right for all.”
Asperger Works is the brainchild of Daniel R. Rajczyk, the organization’s Executive Director and President. Mr. Rajczyk knows all too well the problems faced by fellow Aspies. Although he has a Master’s Degree in Information Technology, he has not had much success in securing full-time employment. The mission of the organization is to help adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by providing employment-related services and training, including ongoing job coaching. It is important to note, Board members point out, that Asperger Works not only “talks the talk,” but “walks the walk.” Three of its six Board members are adults with Asperger’s Syndrome as is the organization’s Executive Director.
“I’m so excited,” gushes Lisa Rajczyk, Asperger Works’ volunteer coordinator! “But now comes the hard part – finding just the right job coaches, whose job will include guiding our clients through the interview process and be available to act as their advocate if there is a problem in the workplace.” As it opens its doors to clients in early September, Asperger Works embarks on a journey that will help hundreds of people in the Merrimack Valley and possibly beyond. The importance of Asperger Works cannot be minimized. According to the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html), 1 in 68 children is diagnosed with Autism, many of whom have Asperger’s Syndrome. These children will all grow up to be adults with Autism. While there have been great strides made in our school systems since Mr. Rajczyk’s childhood to address the difficulties faced by children with Asperger’s, there’s very little, if any, help available to them after graduation.
Asperger Works has been recognized by local and state leaders like Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera and State Senator Barbara L’Italien for its efforts on behalf of the Aspie community. The nonprofit was honored last year by the Lawrence City Council through the sponsorship of City Councilor Nilka Alvarez-Rodriguez; has won the prestigious EforAll (Entrepreneurship for All) Pitch Contest earlier this year, and is the recipient of 2016 CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funding from the City of Lawrence.
At the end of October, Asperger Works will be holding its annual fundraising dinner. Its theme, “Thinking Outside the Box,” urges employers to take a second look at adults with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) and high-functioning Autism and provide them with full-time, challenging, and rewarding career opportunities.
For more on the dinner, see https://www.aspergerworks.org/dinner-of-hope-2016.