Mark Stanganelli, Worker With Down Syndrome Fired From $12-A-Week Job, Gets It Back [UPDATED]



Budget cuts are the norm across the country. But you'd think this one wouldn't have been a make-or-break expenditure: For 15 years, the Greater Lawrence Educational Collaborative, a nonprofit public entity located outside Boston, paid $12 a week to Mark Stanganelli to polish silver at a Wyndham resort in Andover, Mass.

It's a job that has given the 45-year-old Stanganelli, who has Down syndrome, a "sense of worth," according to his father, Gerald. But last month the collaborative wrote a letter to Stanganelli's parents, of Lawrence, Mass., telling them the $600-a-year job was "no longer an appropriate option for Mark," as was reported by local television station WCVB-TV. (The Greater Lawrence Area Educational Collaborative has not responded to inquiries from AOL Jobs.)

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[UPDATE: This story was updated at 12:30 p.m. EDT on Aug. 9, with a statement from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services and an interview with Gerald Stanganelli.]

In an interview with AOL Jobs on Thursday, Gerald Stanganelli said the decision was made after the Massachusetts Department of Disability Services spent the last year moving his son to a new job -- shredding paper at the hotel -- because the room where the silver-polishing was done was no longer available. A training coach was also appointed to try and prepare Mark for the new work over the course of the year.

After the dismissal went public, and prompted a public outcry calling for Stanganelli's job to be restored on AOL Jobs, among other forums, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services met Wednesday with the Stanganelli family. After the meeting, the office provided a statement to AOL Jobs, which said Stanganelli will be allowed "to stay in a position at the Wyndham while we work with the family." The details, such as Stanganelli's new task, are still being worked out, according to his father. But he added that his son felt deflated by the paper-shredding task and didn't feel as valued as when he shined silver.

Stanganelli's stipend will also be restored, the department's communications director, Alec Loftus, said via email. That pay had been agreed upon in 2002 so that Stanganelli could continue working at the hotel, according to his father.

"The money was not the issue," Gerald Stanganelli said. "When you have Down Syndrome, you need routines. Working at the hotel gave Mark stability."

Indeed, the news of Mark's continued tenure at the Wyndham came as a relief for Stanganelli's parents, who had said they didn't have the heart to tell initially their son that he'd no longer be going to his job -- and getting the paychecks that, in the words of his mother, Beverly, he's been "thrilled" to receive.

"It's so much a part of him," said his father. "I couldn't believe this was happening. I didn't want to share that with Mark."

Wyndham Worldwide had said it shared their sentiment. (Wyndham is unable to hire Mark itself because of an exclusive hiring contract.)

"Personally, he can stay here forever. We love him. You hate to see anybody leave, especially Mark, who has been here for a long time," Wyndham Hotel manager Don Corbisiero had told WCVB. "We've gotten to know him and he's gotten to know us. You can't help but feel bad about that. But that's not our decision."

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Along with Health and Human Services, the office of Gov. Deval Patrick had, in the meantime, also reached out to the Stanganellis, promising that a new position would be found for their son, Senate President Therese Murray said.

The Stanganellis were dreading their son losing his job, which was scheduled to end this Friday. "I can't imagine what it's going to be like on the eleventh," Gerald had told ABC News. "We went to the Department of Development Services and asked if we could have a job coach, a job trainer," Beverly added. "But we were told no, that due to the budget they were not going to be able to help us out."

And they emphasized how the issue for them had nothing to do with the money Mark wasn't going to be able to earn. As their story became news, dozens of Americans have reached out to them, as well as to AOL, and have offered to pay them the money. Instead, Gerald suggested donors turn to the National Down Syndrome Society for contributions.

Update: This story was updated at 12:30 p.m. EDT on Aug. 9 with a statement provided by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services and an interview with Gerald Stanganelli to AOL Jobs.





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535 Comments

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zaatara

I am from Massachusetts and I can only shake my head at this stupidity. Open comment to the Governor and the Department of Disability Services. Put a post her with your address and I will gladly send you a check for his entire salary for the remainder of the year. I will also be willing to write a check to cover his salary for the next five years if you like.

August 14 2012 at 4:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
scotty1234k

Go Mark

August 11 2012 at 11:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jouster

Hey folks, I've started an Indiegogo campaign to give Mark a nice bonus! Please help! If you can't contribute, then please spread the word so we can make the goal to give Mark a nice reward for his hard work and dedication!

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/200376

August 09 2012 at 12:39 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to jouster's comment
mrs vanvura

While I applaud your efforts, I ask that people do not donate. Chances are Mark Stanganelli receives an SSI check and he is only allowed so much money. If too much money is received, he could lose his SSI benefits permamently.

August 10 2012 at 9:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dawnholverson

You have a beautiful, caring ang giving soul. You do not even know this man, but YOU are going out of your way for a total stranger. The world NEEDS more people like you in it. Thank You for brightening my day!!

August 12 2012 at 11:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Butch Taylor

I bet not one of the big wigs would have taken 12 dollars out of their pockets to just pay him for his service..God forbid they should give someone some of their own personal funds or take a 12 dollar cut in their million dollar salaries.

August 09 2012 at 12:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rick Campbell

What a crime to even think about taking this job away from this disabled young man. I am sure they waste a lot more money than they were paying this man. He probably worked harder polishing the silver than the maids do cleaning the rooms. For shame!

August 09 2012 at 11:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Vanessa Hill

I am so glad there was a change of heart. I do not know this young man personally. but I prayed things would turn around for him and I thank God for the blessing ans answering my prayer.

August 09 2012 at 11:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
HEALING TOUCH

People have to realize that $12.00 a week is a good deal of money for someone with a disablilty who is working. They also get SSI. when you are a disabled person getting SSI you are still required to be in a work program until you no longer are able to work you are also only alowed to make so much money or your bennifets get cut or revoked. So yes $12.00 Doesn't seem like enough for the work he is doing but he is not working full time he is most likely working an hour or 2 a day this is the govenments way of giving people a reason to wake up something to look forward to insead of handing them a check while they sit infornt of a tv.

August 09 2012 at 10:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ejalerme

I will not stay at a Wyndham resort. Hotels are notorious for not paying a fair wage. They throw away more food that costs $600 a year. I would say let's vote the Governor out of office. Who will join me?

August 09 2012 at 10:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ejalerme

I bet if the Health and Human Services cut out a few conferences and banquet events they can afford this money. Also, if the Governor, stops flying the state Jet and shuts down the mansion parties a few times a year they can find the money.

August 09 2012 at 10:13 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Joe Carreiro Jr.

I am the advocate working with the family in this matter, and they have asked me to thank you all again for your support in this matter. Yesterday we begun a dialogue with the state officials to begin the process of finding a solution to this matter. Despite some reports a solution or settlement has not been reached yet, but we have begun genuine and sincere efforts to work in that regard. We will keep you informed, and once again thank you all for your support here

August 09 2012 at 9:59 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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