For Reliance Merchant Services owner, Mary Kate Gobleck, a chance conversation at a child’s activity has changed the dynamic of her office and the life of another Ridgefielder.
While waiting for her daughter to finish gymnastics class, Mary Kate Gobleck began a conversation with Maria Miceli, an employee of Ability Beyond, a local organization servicing the many needs of over 3,0000 people with disabilities in New York and Connecticut. Although Ability Beyond has been actively working with people with disabilities in our area for over 62 years, Mary Kate didn’t know any specifics about their many programs. Maria, an employment specialist who also works with their ATLAS program interns, began to tell Mary Kate more information about her job at Ability Beyond helping individuals reach their employment goals.
Now in its third year of existence, the ATLAS program is a year-long program for interns that aims to build confidence and teach social, communication and other career skills, along with offering hands-on training at two local businesses. After six months, these interns work to create resumes, hone interview skills and concentrate on their favorite job skills with the ultimate goal of employment and independent living after completion of the program. Maria is active with the interns throughout the entire process, even working with them at their places of employment. However, her job extends far beyond the classroom too, always looking for new business opportunities and partnerships for Ability Beyond interns.
Mary Kate was intrigued and thought perhaps her business, Reliance Merchant Services (RMS), might be a good fit for an ATLAS graduate, but being in Ridgefield, she felt transportation could be a problem. Maria explained that she was always looking for new contacts in the area, and interns were specifically matched with businesses where their job skills and transportation abilities meshed. If she felt in the future a graduate might work for RMS, she would call her.
The ATLAS employment program is one of the many offered at Ability Beyond. As their website states, “At Ability Beyond, we discover, build and celebrate the ability in all people,” and their hard work and tremendous efforts are working. Ability Beyond’s Jessica Volpe, a Community Outreach Coordinator, noted, “Our goal at Ability Beyond is to help each person achieve their goals and to be a part of their community and our employment rate for people with disabilities is significantly higher than the national average.”
Reliance Merchant Services, a credit card and debit card processor for businesses begun by Mary Kate Gobleck, has been a local employer in Ridgefield for over 10 years. As an avid supporter of local education programs, the arts and more, Mary Kate believes a local business needs to be part of the community, not just servicing the community. Working with Ability Beyond was just a natural fit for RMS. However, after years of working with many local businesses in the area, and offering in-house customer service to her clients, Mary Kate knew the importance of finding the right person for the right job, and thought finding an employee from Ability Beyond might take some time.
A few months ago, Maria called Mary Kate. She had an ATLAS graduate whom she felt would be perfect for RMS. Enter Bayne, she wanted to work in an office setting and liked quick, repetitive work. After meeting Bayne and reviewing her resume, “I felt her enthusiasm and her love of working with computers and doing Internet research matched the job we needed done, so I decided to hire her,” said Mary Kate. As with any new placement from ATLAS, Bayne began a trial period at RMS with a job coach. During this time the employer and the employee can see if they’re a good fit,” says Maria, Bayne’s coach during this period.
Besides being an ATLAS graduate, Bayne lives independently in Ridgefield, volunteers at a local cat clinic and with Pegasus Therapeutic Riding, and loves eggplant and the color purple. If you ask her about working, she will tell you, “I am good with computers. I learned it from my Dad.” She will also tell you that she “needs a job because I am bored without work.”
The trial period is now over and Bayne is currently a part time employee of RMS; and her relationship with her co-workers is growing. If you ask, Mary Kate and Barb Tully, a Client Services Manager at RMS, they will tell you Bayne is a pleasure to have in the office. “The office has changed since Bayne began. She’s helped get us organized, doing all those jobs we’ve saved for a rainy day,” added Barb.
For Maria, at the end of the day, she is really happy to see someone land a job they love and have the opportunity to earn a paycheck. For her, hearing Bayne say that the best part of her day was simply, “working,” makes it all worthwhile.