Chaz Williams, a person served by Vinfen, won the 2016 Jonathan Schiff Award for the Quincy area on May 31. The Jonathan Schiff Award was created by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health in 2002 to recognize the value of employment as part of the recovery process. Award recipients are celebrated for their achievements and are given a $300 stipend for their employment needs such as transportation, clothing, and training. The award ceremony was held at Boston University School of Medicine’s Hiebert Lounge.
Vinfen Employment Specialist Steve McCue has supported Chaz in his career endeavors. Steve was so impressed with Chaz’s dedication to his work and his recovery, that he nominated Chaz for the award. “Work has made a big difference in his recovery. It’s increased his self-esteem and he’s more focused on his how his future could be,” said Steve.
“[Work] makes me feel accomplished,” stated Chaz.
Since 2014, Chaz has worked as a janitor at a department store near his home. In the early morning, he cleans the floors, restrooms, and windows before customers arrive. He also helps in the stockroom with unloading merchandise from the delivery trucks on an as needed basis. Chaz’s hard work is greatly appreciated. “Chaz’s employer is very pleased with his work and has given him pay raises…Chaz is one of her best employees and she wants to keep him as an employee for a long time,” wrote Steve in his nomination letter. “Work is a second family to him,” said Steve.
In addition, Chaz completed his one-year assignment working as a phone line operator for the “Warm Line” at Vinfen’s Atlantic Clubhouse. He answered calls from people who are going through a difficult time in their recovery and want to talk to a fellow peer. The position has inspired Chaz to seek out a possible career as a peer in the human services field.
When Chaz won the award, Steve made sure both Chaz and Chaz’s mother could attend by providing transportation to the event. “I appreciate the fact my mother could see me of doing something worthy,” said Chaz. When asked if Chaz had fun at the award reception, he responded, “Emphatically yes.”