2003-04-12 / Community

Local Wins Fedcap’s Writing Competition

Local Wins Fedcap’s Writing Competition


Data entry clerk Florence Wiggins of Long Island City, and Vocational Rehab-ilitation Counselor Howard Cohen of Rockaway Beach are winners of Fedcap’s Words about Work! writing contest.Data entry clerk Florence Wiggins of Long Island City, and Vocational Rehab-ilitation Counselor Howard Cohen of Rockaway Beach are winners of Fedcap’s Words about Work! writing contest.

In celebration of National Poetry Month in April, Fedcap, a not-for-profit organization, recently announced the winners and honorable mention award recipients of its annual Words about Work!® writing competition and public awareness campaign. Howard Cohen of Rockaway Park was one of the winners.

Fedcap provides training and jobs for peoples with disabilities and disadvantages, and outsourcing services to business and government.

Fedcap invited its employees and those served by Fedcap to write a creative poem or essay that answers the question, "What does work mean to you?" This year’s winners and honorable mentions included Howard Co-hen, Florence Jean Wiggins, and Elias Rivera.

"In today’s economy, when many people have strong and distinct feelings about work, Fedcap has created a venue for expression through Words about Work! ® The entries reflect a unique perspective, since Fedcap assists individuals with disabilities and disadvantages to enter the workforce – individuals who have never taken workplace success for granted," says Susan Fonfa, Executive Director of Fedcap.

Howard Cohen of Rockaway Beach is employed at Fedcap as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. When speaking about his reasons for entering the Words about Work® writing competition, Cohen says, "I love writing, specifically poetry, and I love music – both put me in a different world. In my opinion, the creative process is one of the highest aspects of human behavior." Cohen’s poem entitled "The Counselor" illustrates his belief in living one day at a time.

Cohen has been with Fedcap for one year and has been in the counseling field for 14 years. As a Vocational Re-habilitation Counselor, Cohen assists his clients to succeed in their training programs, and he feels that he learns something new everyday. He enjoys his interaction with his clients, co-workers and supervisor who are "almost like a family."

Although he has been writing and composing music from a young age, Cohen saw the Words about Works!® writing competition as a new way to express himself. He is also thrilled to see one of his former clients win the contest. Speaking of his former client, Cohen comments, "I feel a lot of pride at seeing him graduate, get a job and win the contest. It’s a real full circle moment."

Elias Rivera, a custodian from Rich-mond Hill, has been with Fedcap’s Building Services division for 12 years. An excerpt from Rivera’s poem entitled "Work is Pride" reads, "Work will always be the seed from which all human kind can plant and wear as a crown and never have to bow down."

Rivera’s dedication to his custodial career and concern for the quality of his work has earned him a working leader position, which means he leads a team of custodial workers. Rivera, who has both visual and hearing impairments, is an avid reader and entered the Words about Works!® writing competition to express his gratitude toward Fedcap for allowing him the opportunity for a better life.

Florence Jean Wiggins of Long Isl-and City has been employed by Fed-cap’s Rehabilitation Services Dep-artment for over 12 years as a billing and data entry clerk. An excerpt from her poem entitled "What Work Means To Me" reads:

Wiggins, who has an orthopedic disability, came to Fedcap as a client and is a graduate of the data entry program. Since joining Fedcap, her quality of life has improved substantially and she has fostered numerous friendships with co-workers. Wiggins gives Fedcap credit for allowing her and many others to prove themselves in the world.

Wiggins, who will graduate from Hunter College this spring with a B.A. in studio art, is a role model to her family. She is proud that seven out of eight of her children attended college.

Always striving to go beyond what is expected of her, Wiggins entered the Words about Work!® writing competition to express her everyday experiences. While her day begins long be-fore she enters her office at Fedcap, Wiggins believes in treating everyone with respect and offers support whenever she can.

Dennis Nurkse, a former poet Lau-reate of Brooklyn and a poetry teacher, was the judge for Fedcap’s Words about Work! ® writing competition. He is the author of seven books of poetry and has been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly and The New York Times. Nurkse currently teaches poetry at The New School University, the Stonecoast Master of Fine Arts Program and Rikers Island Correctional facility.

Founded in 1935, Fedcap is a national leader, a provider of comprehensive vocational services and an employer of people with disabilities and disadvantages. Fedcap, a not-for-profit organization, helps New York City work. Thr-ough training, jobs and outstanding services to business and government, Fedcap has helped thousands of people transform their lives and successfully enter the workplace. For more information about Words about Works!® or Fedcap, visit www.wordsaboutwork-.org or www.fedcap.org.


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