Kingston’s David Traver was recently awarded the William Joslin Award for Outstanding Performance from the New York State Industries for the Disabled. NYSID chooses their winners on an annual basis and Traver was honored for his dedication to his job at Gateway Hudson Valley.
“I mean, it is an honor,” said Traver. He’s been a member of the Custom Cleaning department at Gateway for three years, becoming financially independent and looking to expand his responsibilities.
“To see David get his award, and to see what it meant to him, and to hear him talk about being treated like everyone else, is really really, rewarding for me,” said President and CEO of NYSID, Maureen O’Brien.
Her team at NYSID facilitates government funding for programs like Gateway Hudson Valley to support individuals with disabilities.
“We’re in a worker shortage right now,” said O’Brien. “I think employers should seriously look at hiring individuals with disabilities. They stay on the job longer, they train better and they want to do the work.”
“David was incredibly eloquent when accepting his award,” said O’Brien. “I think people were excited to be out and celebrating something that felt this good.”
“It didn’t click with me until I went up to receive the award. It means a lot,” said Traver. “It’s a great honor that the great job I do every day is recognized.”
In a world that has recently prioritized cleanliness due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Traver’s work has become essential.
“The type of work I do, before the pandemic, was very thankless for other people. But since the pandemic, people are very thankful that we do what we do,” said Traver. “I’ve already got mine together, so I’m doing this for one of my coworkers.”
It’s that same selfless and dedicated mentality that earned Traver the award for Outstanding Performance. He spends every Monday through Friday taking care of his team, even picking some up in his way to the location they are cleaning that day. But his relationship with people has never been an easy one.
“Coming from where I’ve come from, work is a lot more dependable than people,” said Traver.
Traver found Gateway Hudson Valley at one if his lowest points. Over 10 years ago, Traver tried to take his own life after a childhood filled with trauma. He was was diagnosed with a psychiatric disability, and tasked with a long road to recovery that started at Gateway Hudson Valley’s rehabilitation program.
“People with disabilities are just like you and me. They want a safe place to live, they want a job, and they want to have friends and social connections,” said Gateway President and CEO Stephanie Turco.
She met Traver when he checked in as a patient, and has watched him recover and grow into a colleague.
“He doesn’t see himself as an individual with a disabling condition, and neither should we,” said Turco.
“Being a normal human being without a label, because that is what I am,” said Traver. “I am not disabled. I just work in a place that enhances my disability and by making me capable.”
Traver is described as an extremely conscientious and dedicated employee at Gateway Hudson Valley.
“Unfortunately, in today’s society, even now with everyone being open-minded, there’s still a stigma that if you have a disability, you’re not capable,” explained Traver. “That’s nonsense.”