By Alice Kenny
A former secretary who lost most of her vision, Alexandria Daly has been breaking barriers for much of her adult life.
Now, thanks to teamwork kicked off by our Catholic Charities Guild for the Blind office on the 6th floor of our main office building at 1011 1st Ave. and the cafeteria on the 9th floor, Ms. Daly is living – and working – her dream.
She landed a job as deli cook for the exclusive Dalton private prep school in NYC.
This is a huge achievement, particularly because it employs the visually impaired in the sharp-knived, hot-stoved food service industry. Employers often worry that people with visual challenges will injure themselves. But the injury rate for people with visual impairments has been shown to be no greater than that of the general population. They have to be more careful by necessity.
The NY State Commission for the Blind and the Metropolitan Placement Consortium acknowledged this achievement at their annual Breaking Barriers Awards Luncheon held at Baruch College on March 27, 2015. The event honored Compass USA, the parent company of our 9th cafeteria, along with Catholic Charities for their successful partnership helping Ms. Daly achieve her dream.
Their success story kicks off with Anthony Severo, an employment specialist for Catholic Guild for the Blind. When he learned from Ms. Daly, a recent graduate of the Culinary Technical Institute, about her goal of moving from secretarial work to food service. He rode the elevator up to meet with Thomas Knipe, chef manager in the building’s cafeteria. Although Mr. Knipe had no open positions, he spoke with Ms. Daly for more than an hour.
He was so impressed that he shared with her and Mr. Severo job openings at Compass USA.
Not one to wait, Mr. Severo immediately sent Ms. Daly’s resume to the three positions that interested her most. They received responses the same day. Ms. Daly’s top choice, agreed to interview her the next day.
“Needless to say, Alexandria aced the interview,” Mr. Severo said.
The rest is culinary history. Ms. Daly successfully passed her 90-day trial period. She now has union benefits. And she is saving money to one day open her own restaurant.