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Adults with autism learning valuable skills for local jobs through unique partnership on Long Island



ISLANDIA, N.Y. — A unique partnership between a hotel-casino and a nonprofit that helps adults with autism is creating jobs.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Rohit Bhasin, of North Babylon.

Bhasin has autism, so in the past, it had been difficult to find the right fit. That is, until now.

The Winters Center for Autism and Jakes 58 Casino-Hotel in Islandia made a deal. The center will train adults to do clerical work and housekeeping in their mock hotel rooms, and the hotel will hire them.

“The workers that they train at the Winters Center are the workers we need,” said Phil Boyle, President and CEO of Suffolk Off Track Betting, which owns Jake’s 58.

The hotel plans on starting small, hiring just four trainees, but that likely will change, especially since the hotel plans on expanding.


“In the next couple of years, we are going to double the size of Jakes 58 Casino,” said Boyle. “So we will have a lot more jobs.”

The Winters Center is hoping this is just a start and that other companies will see the perks.

“They’re going to set the example for so many other people nationally, that look, this is a plan that works,” said Patrick Winters, President of the Board, Winters Center for Autism.

“This isn’t something that you just do for charity, its certainly not charity,” said Christine Ponzio,  Executive Director of the Winters Center for Autism. “It’s good for business and it helps the overall culture of business.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, at least 85% of adults with autism who have a college education are unemployed.

The Winters Center wants employers to give these trainees a chance.

“There is an entire talent pipeline on Long Island of young men and women who are going to be loyal, talented, dedicated employees,” said Ponzio. “Having a Neurodiverse workforce is good for business, not just what the employer benefits from, but what the consumer sees.”


The Winters Center teaches each trainee different skills twice a week for about three months, but some spend up to two years getting trained.

Source: CBS


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