Oxford Circle’s Danny Guzman graduated from the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf with the highest grade-point average in the class of 2009.
As Guzman looked to the future, he toured Orleans Technical Institute, 2770 Red Lion Road. He enrolled in mid-2010 after passing an entrance test.
At Orleans, his course of study was heating, ventilation and air conditioning. The class lasted six months. The student found his teachers accommodating and appreciated learning interviewing skills.
Today, at age 20, he is working as a maintenance trades helper in the HVAC shop at PRIDE Industries, a company that serves Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Burlington County, N.J. He credits Orleans with getting him ready for the working world.
“I’m proud of the challenges I overcame. I graduated, and that translated to a job,” he said through interpreter Susan Smith. “It was a great program for me. I really excelled at the hands-on work. When I went to the job, I was prepared. Many thanks to the staff. The staff there made me as successful as I am today. They were very encouraging.”
Guzman last week was one of the honorees at the 13th annual JEVS Human Services Strictly Business Awards.
About 600 people attended the luncheon at the Sheraton hotel at 17th and Race streets. CBS 3’s Stephanie Stahl was the emcee.
JEVS Human Services is a social service agency that offers skills training and career enhancement opportunities. Proceeds from the event funded scholarships to JEVS’ vocational assessment, job readiness, skills training and career management services.
The awards were created to recognize the contributions of the Philadelphia region’s best companies and people.
The Business Leadership Award went to two Philadelphia-area companies.
The Fresh Grocer, an independent supermarket chain, offers opportunities to, among others, those who have had brushes with the law.
Peregrine Surgical Ltd., a company based in New Britain, Bucks County, that manufactures instruments for eye surgery, routinely hires clients from the Center for New Americans.
Guzman and Caledonia “Caley” Speleos both won the Inspiration Award.
Speleos, 18, graduated from George Washington High School last June. She lived much of her life in Madison, Wis., but moved to Bustleton with her dad in the summer of 2008. She spent three years at Washington, often living with friends.
JEVS Career Strategies and Preparing, Attaining and Sustaining Success (PASS) helped Speleos overcome her challenging home environment, which included a lack of financial and family support.
PASS is offered to high school juniors for a 20-month period. The program helped Speleos learn to create a resume and interview with an employer.
“The information was helpful. I was set up with the base skills to work in a professional business,” she said.
Today, Speleos is living with her boyfriend in East Oak Lane and attending Community College of Philadelphia. She expects to spend two years at CCP, then transfer to a four-year college for architecture. She is considering Drexel University.
Speleos is gaining experience working as an intern at L2Partridge, an architecture and interior design company at 17th and Arch streets.
“I love the fact that I have the opportunity to work in an environment I want to spend my life in,” she said. “I love the beauty of buildings. It’s an art.”
Jay Spector, president and CEO of JEVS Human Services, said his agency develops enduring relationships with employers and tries to match those companies with the right workers for their business.
The awards luncheon, Spector said, enables JEVS Human Services to show off the opportunities it offers and the success stories it celebrates.
The recession and jobless recovery haven’t really slowed down the agency’s placement rate.
“We keep going and finding opportunities for clients and employers who are willing to hire,” he said. ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org