Monarch, Arc of Onondaga’s vocational division, provides employment opportunities and training for people with developmental disabilities while also serving the needs of the local business community. Monarch operates at many sites throughout the county including National Grid’s Investment Recovery unit in Liverpool, NY, and contracts with New York State on janitorial jobs. Monarch employs almost 200 people with developmental disabilities in Onondaga County and provides the Syracuse area with more than $2 Million in outsourcing services such as assembly, packaging and inspection. Monarch is a member of MACNY, NYSID, NYSRA, NISH and Centerstate CEO and has been serving the CNY community for over 30 years.
To learn more about their products and services, call 315.476-7441.
Congratulations to Abi Magar
For being recognized as NYSID’s 2022
William B. Joslin Outstanding Performance Award Winner
Read her story.
“People are surprised that I can maintain a job because I am deaf and from another country. I am very capable and I work really hard. Of course, I can.” Abi Magar is from Nepal. She was born in Butan and has been deaf since birth. From the age 13 years old, she was raised in refugee camps. She held many jobs in Nepal helping her family by working as a seamstress and selling clothing, collecting, chopping and transporting wood on her head using a tumpline, and making fires for local families.
In 2001, she came to America and settled in Syracuse where she says she felt very isolated. “There was no real deaf community in Syracuse. All of my friends and family were relocated to other states. I could only sign, and most deaf people couldn’t sign in Nepalese.” She took a job doing something she knew, sewing, making bus seat covers at a factory. “It was work, I could do it, but I was unhappy.” Abi says that working in a factory-type setting was not beneficial for her. She walks everywhere and between the evening hours and getting to and from work, she was missing valuable time she needed at home with her three kids and husband. She also felt very alone. “People think that I would do better working a job where I could rely on my skill and not need to communicate, but that is not true. Community is very important in Nepalese culture. It is not a part of my personality to work alone. It is not part of my culture to work for myself. We live a very communal life in Nepal.”
In 2020, Abi began working for Monarch’s Enclaves program doing custodial work at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Immediately she began to make an impact. “It was quite a shock. I had a lot to learn. But things stuck, and I kept improving.” She had to navigate working in a very busy DMV office with many different coworkers and clients – in a place where no one spoke her language. “She had a few learning curves. So did I,” said Jim Pitts, Enclaves manager. “We had to figure out how to train her, how to communicate if something was wrong on the job site and we weren’t there, how to interact with her coworkers when she couldn’t speak ‘their language.’ I thought it would be a lot, but Abi was in her element and I realized how proficient she was in managing her disability.” Jim says that when she has an emergency or needs him, which isn’t very often these days, she texts. “They rave about her over there. She is just like every other employee in a busy DMV. They respect her, they include her, and they go out of their way to let her know she is appreciated. Once she understands what she should be doing and what is expected of her, she dives right in needing minimal supervision. She is a very fast learner who takes direction very well. ”
Abi says that working at the DMV has changed her life. “I worked as a custodian at a school for a while, and I still was not happy. The DMV has better equipment, no after school/night hours, and I get to make friends and be a part of a team. A work community.” Six months after arriving in the United States, Abi began to search for her new community. Although finding a deaf, Nepalese community would be a challenge, finding a Deaf New American (DNA) community would not. “Finding fellow New Americans has changed everything. Burma, Butan, Ethipoia, Africa, we just live amongst one another and figure it out. We share everything, including meals.” Abi says that everyone will cook a different part of a meal, and at night they all come together for one communal dinner. She has also been able to make many deaf (DNA) friends as well, which she says has helped exponentially. “I prefer to be around people despite my disability. Even at work. I can learn. Starting out was tough, but now, if I see something wrong, I understand and can fix it quickly. I know where everything is. I know where to go and how to ask for help. I live in a community. I work in a community. I have the best of both worlds.”
Note: This Joslin Awards nomination interview was interpreted three ways from Nepalese sign language to American sign language and from American sign language to English.