Social Distancing and Preparedness

By now, we all know how well we did with preparing for this medical crisis. If you were one of the people that rushed to the stores to start buying toilet paper and food because the cupboards and shelves are bare, I wish you all of the good fortune that is available. One of my jobs in Human Resources and also in Operations was to manage safety and disaster recovery initiatives. The first principle of both initiatives was to get everyone involved to look beyond today and anticipate what could go wrong and make plans to either avoid the problems or prepare to get the operations back to a positive state. Combine this with comments from my parents and grandparents about the Great Depression, I have always made sure that I was always preparing to not be surprised by that next emergency.

I would encourage people to start thinking about what you can do at this point and throughout this crisis by thinking about your support network and your finances. Obviously, we all want to stay safe through social distancing and great personal hygiene, but we need to think outside of the box and determine who is available to provide help. Reach out to anyone in your network that can provide help. On-line may be our best option. I would also recommend the following website:

The other thing that I would suggest is that we all use our various networks to virtually discuss and develop solutions that will help others. The thing that seems to be missing in this crisis is effective communication, Facebook would be my last resort for information, Stay safe and let me know your thoughts.

Aging and Disabled

With all of the recent talk of the coronavirus and the uncertainty of…everything. I decided to change the emphasis of my blog. I am on the board of the Salem County Office on Aging and Disability Services (Advisory Board) and I realize that there can be a lot of similarities between the needs of the senior and disabled populations. As a senior, I notice that I can benefit from many of the same accommodations that are a benefit to our disabled population.. As an example, curb cuts have been very important in improving safe mobility to individuals in a wheelchair, but anyone that has pushed a baby carriage and has packages in their hand, can also recognize the benefit. Kitchen aids that help with opening bottles and jars are great for helping the disabled, but as we get older and our hand strength is reduced, it is a help for seniors as well. The list goes on and on.

The Office on Aging and Disability Services in Salem County serves the senior and disabled populations and I see the value in this approach. Although funding is a factor for this union, I am starting to realize that we need to focus on accommodations that address issues that focus on helping all of us become more able when we experience the need for assistance. I have also been part of the “sandwich generation” and know what it is like to care for children and parents. The more I volunteer with disabled populations, the more I realize that we need to focus on helping all populations in becoming more able and spend less time labeling different populations.

Going forward with my blog, I am going to try to focus on ideas and programs that able people and try not to focus as much on disability. The reality is that all of us throughout our lives have times that we need the help of others. I am going to focus on ideas, programs and local events that focus on making it easier to become able in our journey through life.

Getting Your First Job, Part 2

Getting your first job is not easy without help. If you are still in school, you need to be 14 in order to get working papers and you have to have a job offer before you can get the working papers. There are limitations on the type of job you can get because of health and safety reasons and on the number of hours that you can work. Parents may add some additional restrictions on the job search.

When I worked in a middle school with 7th and 8th grade students, almost every student that got a job knew someone that helped them find that job. There isn’t a formal listing of jobs for middle school and high school students, but schools do support the concept of students working during their senior year if they have completed all of there required classes and the school has a program to allow students to leave school during the day to work, Once again, there is very little in the way of formal listings and either the student, the school or the parents need to search for openings. Students can also try to find and after school or summer job.

I am currently volunteering my time to help special needs students find job opportunities, but the process is pretty much the same for all students that want a job. First time job seekers may have a long term career in mind, but they lack the educational requirements, work experience and probably independent transportation means to be successful in their search. Most have not completed an employment application, have no experience to include, have never had an employment interview, don’t know what minimum wage is currently and many have not learned to use cursive writing to sign the application. Fortunately, the students that I am working with have been through a program to address each of these issues.

The students that I am working with also are in a program that will pay for 100 hours of work and are covered by the agency’s insurance. They will also receive assistance with their orientation and support during their time with the company that allows them to work at their site. I will be contacting different local companies and I have already contacted two large companies that require corporate approval. What I could really use is a network of locals that could give me some leads on possible work / training sites. If you have any leads, e-mail me at or call me at 856 287 8422.

Getting Your First Job

I did a lot of different jobs before I was 15 at my house for a small allowance. I also cut grass and did odd jobs in the neighborhood to make money. My grandfather was building a house when I was about 10 and my father and my uncles all were involved. I wasn’t asked if I wanted to help, it was just expected. Mostly, I was a “gofer”: “Frankie, get us some more nails; bring the studs over here; clean up this area; tell your grandmother to get lunch ready and et cetera”. I was expected to watch how things were being done and expected to do more whenever I was asked to help.

I got my first paycheck job was when I was 15. I spent the summer working for my uncle Donald working on stainless steel tanks. They were all different sizes and I was basically a helper doing whatever I was told to do. I was also living with him and my aunt Shirley because I wasn’t old enough to drive to the job site and I was also his helper while he was building his house. I didn’t apply for these jobs. My mother and my uncle talked about it and it was a done deal. I didn’t go to a training program, but I learned construction skills as most apprentices had learned in the past by working with others that had the skills.

I continued working for my uncle during the summers and learned a lot of manufacturing and plumbing skills. I also worked in a restaurant during the school year where my mother worked as a waitress and my cousin got me a job at Cherry Hill Hospital working in the kitchen and serving food to the patients. The summer before I went to college, my dad got me into the Laborer’s Union # 172. The reason I am mentioning all of this is because of the pattern. My family made sure I knew how to work and helped me find jobs. As a freshman in college, I was able to get a good paying job in the plumbing department at the school because I had real plumbing skills that I learned from my family members. I was mentored in the process of working independently and specifically shown what the proper procedure was that I should be using.

Things have changed a lot since I was a boy and students find it much more difficult to get a job when their parents don’t own a company, can’t get their children into the company they work for or because regulations make it almost impossible to allow students to work. Vocational / technical programs provide the opportunities to learn marketable skills and realistic expectations for a work site. Companies have allowed parents to bring their children to work and most schools encourage participation, but parents can do more. I believe that parents should actively talk about the jobs that they and other family members have. I believe it is important that they hear the good and the bad points of a job. What does a boss expect on a job. What causes someone to get promoted and what causes a person to get fired. They also need to hear that workers will not always like everything about the job that they have, but sometimes they need to do a good job when they don’t like it so they can be considered for something that they will like a lot more later on.

Students need to do their own research about their dream job. They also need to be realistic about the requirements necessary to acquire that job and honest about how competitive they are as a candidate. They need to look for entry level jobs and experiences that create a positive work history. It is still true that it is difficult to get the job you want without experience. However, how do you get experience if no one will hire you? Internships and volunteer experiences are also a possibility.