We’ve spoken quite a bit about our expansion of sunscreen dispensers throughout the City of Boston this past summer and into the fall. With 28 dispensers in all, we were in need of a helping hand this year! Through an introduction made by City Councilor Erin Murphy, we’re so happy to be working with WORK Inc., who have been instrumental in providing maintenance support to sunscreen dispensers placed at Millennium Park, Moakley Park, Harambee Park, and Garvey Park.
We recently sat down with WORK Inc.’s Director of Deaf Support Services, Amanda Neal to discuss the program and how it all came to fruition.
First, tell us about WORK Inc. What’s the organization all about? What are typical projects you like to get involved with, and what’s the importance of these engagements?
WORK Inc. is the largest employer of people with disabilities in the region. The agency has a myriad of programs — Commercial Services, Day-Habilitation, Community Based Day Support Services. Deaf Services, Family Support, Employment, and Residential Services — which all converge toward one goal: “To make the lives of individuals with disabilities better.”
The program I represent is the Community Based Day Services for Deaf, intellectually and developmentally delayed adults. This model is geared toward community inclusion through volunteer and social recreational opportunities. Individuals with disabilities want to be part of the communities where they live and work, just like the rest of us. These opportunities give them a sense of belonging and pride in what they can do for others.
What do you appreciate about the current opportunity with IMPACT Melanoma? Can you describe how the partnership presented itself and how you helped put it in motion?
I appreciated the immediate willingness from IMPACT Melanoma to see how we could work together. The fact they said YES, let’s make this happen, is not often the first reaction we are given when looking for new opportunities. Being from Dorchester and working in Dorchester often leads me to try and connect us with people I know in the community that may have an opportunity for us or can make a connection to someone who does. I have known City Councilor at Large Erin Murphy for many years. She was a teacher at the school my children attended. Our children played sports together, she is from my neighborhood, and I was proud to be able to support her in her campaign for her current seat on the city council. One day while scrolling Facebook, I saw a post that she was going to continue the efforts that had been started by former Councilor Matt O’Malley and thought to myself that sun safety would be a great topic to train our staff and individuals about during our annual health and wellness month. I sent an email to Councilor Murphy’s office, and she connected me to Laurie Seavey, the Practice Safe Skin Manager for IMPACT Melanoma. We had a meeting on zoom to discuss what we were looking for when this volunteer opportunity presented itself.
Why does this particular arrangement make sense for all parties involved?
What’s amazing about this arrangement is that we were able to receive training around such an important topic and then turn that into a hands-on experience for our individuals. We get to experience the wonderful neighborhoods and parks where the dispensers are located. IMPACT Melanoma was able to help us with our educational need and we were able to help with their need for monitoring the dispensers.
How’d the recent training go? How often are workers maintaining the sunscreen dispensers?
The recent training was well attended, and through participant feedback, they learned a lot. That training then had other staff in our agency requesting additional trainings for families in our family support center.
We maintain the sunscreen dispensers twice a week on Monday and Friday. We ensure they are stocked for the weekend when the parks have more visitors and replenished after the weekend.
Is there a sense of pride for the workers at Work Inc. to be utilizing their skills to do some good in the world, like protecting their fellow citizens from the sun’s damaging UV rays?
Yes, they are so proud of what they are doing and tell people about it any chance they get.
Any other comments you’d like to make?
We want to thank Councilor Murphy for making the connection and IMPACT Melanoma for the opportunity. I’d also like to encourage anyone reading this to reach out if they think they have a volunteer, social recreation, or employment opportunity.
For more information on our Practice Safe Skin program (and to bring it to your own community!), click here.