Queens nonprofit honors Stop & Shop for hiring disabled individuals through its supported employment program

Photo by QCP

The Queens Centers for Progress (QCP) will be recognizing Stop & Shop for the collaborative work done in helping to hire  individuals with disabilities during its 27th annual “Evening of Fine Food” at the Terrace on the Park Feb. 28. Stop & Shop will be honored as a “Chef of the Year” for its service in working closely with QCP’s supported employment program.

(Photo by QCP)

After being established by the federal government in the 1980s, the supported employment program helped to find jobs for the most significantly disabled individuals. As one of the first agencies to provide supported employment services, QCP has helped hundreds of individuals obtain and sustain employment in Brooklyn, Queens and Nassau county.

Stop & Shop has a long history in recruiting, training, hiring and retaining many of the individuals QCP has helped over the years. The chain has also worked to give back to the organization, such as routinely funding the annual Evening of Fine Food and providing a $2,500 donation in 2022 following remodels to the Stop & Shops in Maspeth and Glendale. According to Stop & Shop, the donation allowed QCP to further support the life-enriching and life-sustaining programs relied on by QCP clients.

(Photo by QCP)

“As a neighborhood grocer, Stop & Shop stores are engrained in the fabric of our communities,” a Stop & Shop spokesperson said. “Working with local organizations that are committed to improving the lives of our neighbors is integral to helping our communities flourish. Stop & Shop employs approximately 1,500 Queens residents, each of whom brings their own unique talent to the table. And with hundreds of our associates coming from the Queens Center for Progress, we believe that Stop & Shop’s recognition as QCP’s Chef of the Year is a tribute to the work that each of our associates does every day to support our customers, fellow associates and communities.”

The Stop & Shop at the Bay Terrace Shopping Center (Photo by Ethan Marshall)

According to QCP Job Developer Maggie Cerillo, job coaches play an important role in the program, as they both help the individual and get in contact with managers to get them employed. She views this as a big part of the successful partnership with Stop & Shop over the last 27 years.

“Inclusivity is so much more today than it used to be then,” Cerillo said. “And businesses are open to working with us. And Stop & Shop has been our number one company for all these years.”

QPC Assistant Director of Supported Employment Melissa Cange said that this program helps to build the confidence of the people they help as they find a job. The work they perform and the interactions they have with others prove to be invaluable.

“[The program] enriches the lives of the individuals we serve,” Cange said. “They feel part of a community. They develop friendships with their coworkers. It really enriches their lives overall.”

Many of the businesses that bring in these workers, including Stop & Shop, often find many of them to be great employees who can be relied upon to consistently show up for work when called upon. Additionally, some end up spending a lot of time working there. For example, QPC has 14 clients working at Stop & Shop, with five of them having worked there for over 20 years.

“There are countless jobs to be performed in our stores and our store management teams work with associates on an individual basis to assess their ability level,” a spokesperson for Stop & Shop said. “Our managers listen to feedback during associate training and get feedback from QCP to help ensure each person is placed in the right job for their unique skills and abilities. Our store teams also reassess associate performance continually and if an associate has mastered one job and feel they’re ready for a new challenge, they’re onto a new job function. So many of our associates from QCP feel that the sky is the limit when working for Stop & Shop.”