Words about Work! National Poetry Contest Winners Announced

Poets Reflect on Disability and Overcoming Barriers to Employment during National Poetry Month and Poem in Your Pocket Day Contest

April 19, 2010. New York, NY: Fedcap is excited to announce the winners of its Words about Work! writing contest focusing on overcoming barriers and disabilities in the workplace. Our grand prize winners are Heather Lee Dyer, a mother of two and Lupus survivor, who works for the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections and lives outside of Boise, ID and Adam Sullivan, a ten year old fifth grader from Harrison, NJ. Each winner has had significant experience with how a disability can affect employment, and in turn, other aspects of life.

Words about Work! is a national poetry contest that was open to adults and children and sponsored by Fedcap – a nonprofit dedicated to providing vocational training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities and other barriers. Contestants were asked to submit poems or essays on what work means to them and how they have overcome barriers to work. Entries were judged by an independent panel of poets and writers from the Yale Club Poetry Group. The winners, runners up, and honorable mentions can be found at www.wordsaboutwork.org.

“Through the Words about Work! contest, Fedcap is giving voice to the significant employment-related barriers that people with disabilities face every day,” said Mark O’Donoghue, Chair of Fedcap’s Board of Directors. “In a time of ever rising unemployment and challenging economic conditions, we can’t forget how important diversity in the workplace is and how much people with disabilities have to contribute.”

“Fedcap creates over 1,000 jobs for people facing barriers every year,” said Christine McMahon, Fedcap’s President and CEO. “We are inspired by our Words about Work! contestants. Their words speak powerfully about how work can transform lives. Heather Dyer’s words speak about an invisible disability and how this affects her life at her job; ten year old Adam Sullivan’s words reveal hidden insights into how he copes with his mother’s disability; Christina Dunams’s words insist that losing your hearing doesn’t stop you from following your dreams; Ellen Denton’s words focus on how work gave her father with Alzheimer’s clarity for a brief and wonderful moment; Gayle Tauger’s words reflect on her work with people with HIV; and Ruth Krinsky’s words talk about the dignity that comes with a paycheck. Fedcap provides the training and supports necessary to provide the foundations of independence for so many people facing barriers to work who so often do not have a voice. Together with our hiring partners in business and government, their words about work will be heard.”


Fedcap will host a poetry reading featuring the Words about Work! winners and contestants on Sunday, April 25 at the Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The cost is $15 and proceeds benefit Fedcap’s job training programs. The reading is taking place as part of National Poetry Month and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Poem in Your Pocket Day Celebrations. Members of the public are asked to bring a poem to read about overcoming obstacles to work. The event will be webcast live at http://www.bowerypoetrylive.com.

Fedcap’s Words about Work! Runners up:

•    Shani Caldwell-Schwab, Montclair, NJ

•    Constance M. Gemson, New York, NY

•    Ruth W. Krinsky, New York, NY

Fedcap’s Words about Work! Children’s Honorable Mention:

•    Kevon Jefferson, Brooklyn, NY

•    Kareece Le Brun, Brooklyn, NY

•    Ruhejami Mustari, Brooklyn, NY

Fedcap’s Words about Work! Adult Honorable Mention:

•    Ellen B. Denton, North Hills, CA

•    Christina Dunams, Woodside, NY

•    Amber Herrick, Portland, OR

•    Yvonne M. Jones, Philadelphia, PA

•    Mary Koan, New York, NY

•    Genevieve Olivia Joyner, Nashville, TN

•    Pamela D. Swann, New York, NY

•    Roberta Swann, New York, NY

•    E. Gayle Tauger, Staten Island, NY

•    Debra  J. White, Tempe, AZ


About Fedcap

Founded in 1935, Fedcap is a national leader in providing comprehensive vocational services and employment for people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. Fedcap helps America work. Through training, job placement, and socially responsible outsourcingTM services to business and government, Fedcap has helped thousands of people transform their lives and successfully enter the workforce.

Fedcap graduates obtain jobs at private companies or with Fedcap. The majority of the jobs we are able to offer are made possible through the New York State Preferred Source Program, ACCSES NJ and CNA Services, and the federal AbilityOne Program. Fedcap also operates a licensed home health care agency and Chelton Loft, a clubhouse for people with severe and persistent mental illness. For more information, or to make a donation, call 212-727-4200 or visit www.fedcap.org

Call for Submissions for Fedcap’s Annual Words about Work! Poetry Contest for Adults and Kids


New Yorkers Encouraged to Write Poems about What Work Means to Them for Cash Prizes


Fedcap is currently calling for submissions for its annual poetry contest from New Yorkers who wish to write poems or essays that articulate just how work gives their lives positive meaning.


All New Yorkers are encouraged to submit an original work of one page or less to the 2010 Fedcap Words about Work! poetry competition. Submissions must be postmarked by March 15, 2010 to qualify and should be sent to:


Fedcap Community Relations

Attn: Words about Work!

211 West 14th Street

New York, NY 10011


Entry forms, rules, and additional information can be found at www.wordsaboutwork.org or by contacting Fedcap at info@fedcap.org or 212-727-4200.


Fedcap’s Words about Work! contest began in 2001 as a way to recognize Fedcap clients who have graduated from our job training programs, overcome barriers, and found employment. By opening up the contest to the general public Fedcap hopes to build community awareness and bring people of various backgrounds together to reflect on what work means to each of us, especially in this difficult economy with ever rising unemployment. 


Words about Work! will also spotlight the difficult employment-related barriers certain groups like returning veterans, residents of economically disadvantaged areas like the south Bronx, and young people exiting the foster care system, face every day. The particular challenges these groups face tend to go unnoticed and Fedcap encourages participation from these groups and others facing barriers to employment.


Previous Words about Work! winners have written about how their jobs have brought them greater independence, dignity, self-respect, confidence, and the barriers they overcame in order to find and keep a job. Poems can be found at www.wordsaboutwork.org.


This year’s Words about Work! winners will be selected by an independent panel of poets and authors. There are separate contests for adults and children, with prize money of $500 for adults and $100 gift cards for the kids.


Fedcap will host a Words about Work! celebration and poetry slam featuring the winners on Sunday, April 25 at Manhattan’s Bowery Poetry Club in collaboration with the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Poem in Your Pocket Day and National Poetry Month.


Founded in 1935, Fedcap is a national leader in providing comprehensive vocational services and employment for people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. Fedcap helps America work. Through training, job placement, and socially responsible outsourcingTM services to business and government, Fedcap has helped thousands of people transform their lives and successfully enter the workforce.

Fedcap graduates obtain jobs at private companies or with Fedcap. The majority of the jobs we are able to offer are made possible through the New York State Preferred Source Program and the federal AbilityOne Program. Fedcap also operates a licensed home health care agency and Chelton Loft, a clubhouse for people with severe and persistent mental illness. For more information, or to make a donation, call 212-727-4200 or visit www.fedcap.org

Fedcap Welcomes Poet and Founder of the Bowery Poetry Club, Bob Holman, as the 2009 Words about Work! Judge.

Fedcap is pleased to welcome poet and founder of the Bowery Poetry Club, Bob Holman, as the 2009 Words about Work! Judge.

Widely considered a legend in New York poetry circles, Holman is often credited for bringing the poetry slam to New York City where it gained broader recognition through the mass media and commercial markets. Holman was first published in Rolling Stone  His most recent poetry collection, A Couple of Ways of Doing Something was published in 2003 and re-printed by Aperture Press in 2006 magazine in 1968 and has gone on to have an incredibly prolific career, publishing several books and anthologies, winning awards, and conducting readings and workshops worldwide.

Holman has made numerous TV appearances, having been featured on “Nightline,” “Good Morning America,” and the “Charlie Rose Show,” among others. “Poetry Spots,” a program he produced for WNYC-TV won three Emmys over the course of six seasons and he won the International Public Television Awards for two of his programs, “United States of Poetry” and “Words in Your Face.” The PBS series “United States of Poetry” featured over 60 poets including former President Jimmy Carter and Lou Reed. In 2004 he appeared on HBO as a “Def Poet” on Russell Simmons’ “Def Poetry Jam.”

Early in his career Holman made a name for himself as the Founding Editor of the NYC Poetry Calendar. He went on to serve as an Administrator and curate the reading series at the St. Mark’s Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church in the East Village. As the Co-Director and original “slam master” at the celebrated Nuyorican Poets Café in Alphabet City, Holman became widely associated with the poetry slam.

In 2001 Holman founded the Bowery Poetry Club & Cafe, a full time poetry venue that attracts the best poetry talent available for its programs and innovative series, including American Sign Language (ASL) Poetry events, and readings and workshops of every stripe. Holman is actively involved in the day to day operations of the Bowery Poetry Club and it has been said that the venue “revolves like a solar system around Bob Holman.”

Holman graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in English in 1970. He has held teaching positions at several colleges including the New School and Bard College and is currently a Visiting Professor at New York University and Columbia University School of the Arts. Since 1997 Holman has been a “Poetry Guide” for the highly trafficked poetry website of About.com, http://poetry.about.com/. He is currently creating documentaries on the poetry of endangered languages.

Kirstin Cole, Consumer Reporter for WCBS-TV, to be Master of Ceremonies at Fedcap's 2009 Words about Work! Fundraiser

January, 2009; New York, NY: Kirstin Cole is CBS 2's consumer reporter. She joined WCBS-TV in 2001 as a general assignment reporter and has also served as co-anchor of the station's weekend news broadcasts (2001-2003 and again from 2006-2007).

Kirstin appears daily on CBS 2 HD exposing scams and dangerous products and is responsible for getting thousands of dollars back to countless consumers. Frequently going undercover, she has warned viewers about unsafe products and abusive consumer practices. Her reporting has spanned ineffective sunblock, illegal botox, drunk high rise construction workers, appliance repair rip-offs, child discrimination, abusive daycare and diamond buying scams.

Prior to WCBS-TV, Cole has served as a reporter and anchor for WPIX-TV New York (2000-2001). In addition to her responsibilities as reporter, she also produced special projects, including a series on Marine training.

Cole began her career at WLNY-TV New York as anchor/reporter for the station's weeknight newscast (1995-97). Her credits include reports on the crash of TWA Flight 800 and the slow responses of several ambulance companies throughout Long Island. She has also anchored and reported for WSYX-TV and WTTE-TV Columbus, OH (1997-99). There, Cole spearheaded investigations into abusive nursing homes, covered the aftermath of devastating floods, and went inside a local jail to explore the high rate of repeat offending mothers.

Cole has been honored with a New York Emmy Award for Crime Reporting, from the Society of Silurians for Investigative Reporting, and from the New York Press Club for best consumer reporting. She also received the the Associated Press's General Excellence of Individual Reporting Award in 2007.

Cole is a summa cum laude graduate of Chicago's Loyola University with a degree in communications and a concentration in journalism. She currently resides in New York with her husband and child.

Fedcap Honored Words about Work! Poetry Contest Winners on April 29th, 2008

People with Disabilities Recognized for their Words about Work! in Unique Poetry Competition Judged by Sapphire, Author of Push

Meet the Winning Poets and Listen to their Poems on Fedcap’s YouTube Channel

“…The Deaf want to teach people to be the same! Sign! We want to see a world of fingers! Sign!...”

“…Is she ever going to take me back? …I know when we’re together again, I will know how to treat, honor, and respect her and for if I do that, I will keep my love – work…”

April 29th, 2008; New York, NY -- These are just a few verses taken from poems written by Fedcap trainees, students, employees, and their children, many of whom have disabilities, that have won Fedcap’s Words about Work! poetry competition. Held during National Poetry Month, Fedcap invited people with disabilities and other barriers to employment who received services from Fedcap, as well as Fedcap employees and their children, to write a poem, essay or song about the value they place on employment and what it means to them and their families. Critically acclaimed poet and novelist Sapphire, author of Push, returned as the official judge of the writing contest.

The nine winners of the contest recited their pieces during the Words about Work! reception held on April 29th at Con Edison Headquarters, 4 Irving Place in Manhattan at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner. Fedcap Executive Director Susan Fonfa, Sapphire, and WNBC-TV news reporter and emcee for the reception, Monica Morales, presented the winners with awards, as well as recognized 14 honorable mentions at the reception, attended largely by Fedcap donors, employees, consumers of its programs and community leaders.

Videos of the poets reciting their work, as well as interviews with them, are available on Fedcap’s YouTube nonprofit channel at: http://youtube.com/user/fedcaprehabilitation.

Fedcap is a nonprofit organization founded in 1935 that is a leader in developing training and employment programs for people with disabilities and other significant barriers to employment. With a workforce of 1,250 people at more than 40 locations, Fedcap is one of the largest employers of people with disabilities in the region. Fedcap’s vocational training programs prepare individuals for entry-level work in offices, mailrooms, food services, custodial and maintenance companies, and other fields. Fedcap’s Business Divisions provide outsourcing solutions in building/custodial, industrial, food, office services, and home care to business and government throughout the metropolitan area.

“Each Words about Work! winner has a unique voice and story to tell about the impact their training and employment has had on them and their family,” said Fonfa. “Fedcap’s Words about Work! competition reinforces what we teach in our training programs – that the reward of a job well done is much more then just receiving a paycheck. Employment is indeed the key to independence for many and the pride of accomplishment, self-confidence, and determination comes through in these moving poems.”

Employment for people with disabilities is not something that is taken for granted. According to recent US Census figures, people with disabilities represent over 14% of the population of the country. Yet only 29% of people with disabilities work full or part time compared to 79% of people without disabilities. Almost three times as many adults with disabilities live in a household with an annual income of less than $15,000 compared to adults without disabilities.

Sapphire, who judged the 2008 Words about Work! contest, is best known for her novel, Push, which tells the poignant story of a young African American woman living in Harlem struggling into adulthood while trying to overcome poverty and abuse. Push is now being made into a major motion picture starring Julie Patton, Lenny Kravitz, Mo'Nique, and newcomer Gabourey Sidibe as Precious Jones. The movie is produced by Lee Daniels, producer of Monster’s Ball and The Woodsman. Sapphire has also published several poetry anthologies including American Dreams and Black Wings & Blind Angels. Sapphire has taught literature, fiction, and poetry workshops at colleges and universities including Trinity College, Brooklyn College, and the New School University.

“Words about Work! recognizes the extraordinary talents of individuals with disabilities,” Sapphire said. “It was touching to read the words of custodians, office workers, health care workers, among others, each doing their best to contribute to this great city, and each with a story to tell about the meaning and value of work.”

Fedcap was honored to welcome back Emmy-award-winning WNBC-TV news reporter Monica Morales as the 2008 Words about Work! emcee. Monica Morales joined the News Channel 4 team in August 2004, as a general assignment reporter and has covered stories ranging from detainee abuse in Passaic County to the closing of the legendary CBGB’s.

About Fedcap

Fedcap is a nonprofit organization that is a leader in developing training and employment programs for people with disabilities and other significant barriers to employment in the New York City metro area. Our mission is to be a premier organization that empowers people with barriers to employment to move towards economic independence as valued members of the workforce. Individuals with severe disabilities founded Fedcap in 1935 when people with disabilities were not believed to be capable of employment or self-sufficiency. Each year Fedcap’s evaluation, training, employment, support, and advocacy programs help New Yorkers overcome obstacles, rebuild their lives, and find and keep meaningful employment.

Fedcap graduates obtain jobs at private companies or with Fedcap. The majority of the jobs we are able to offer are made possible through the New York State Preferred Source Program and the federal AbilityOne Program. Fedcap also operates a licensed home health care agency and Chelton Loft, a clubhouse for people with severe and persistent mental illness.

For more information on Fedcap and Words about Work! Please visit www.fedcap.org.

Contact:Jennifer Bertrand, 212-727-4200

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