Times are tough — and they’re apparently so tough for an “education collaborative” in Massachusetts that it can no longer afford to pay a man with Down Syndrome $12 a week to polish silver at a Wyndham Hotel, where he’s worked for 15 years.
Mark Stanganelli got the ax last month when the Greater Lawrence Education Collaborative — a non-profit public entity made up of local school districts, and tasked with providing employment for disabled residents — sent a letter to his family saying it could no longer pony up the $12 a week to give Stanganelli a sense of purpose.
The reason the organization gave: budget cuts.
Clearly, we have a few questions concerning the “budget cuts” that led to Stanganelli’s firing from his $12 a week job, so we sent GLEC Executive Director Kim Oliveira the following email:
hi kim. my name is james king. i’m a writer for the village voice in new
york and had a question about the termination of mark stanganelli from
his job at the wyndham hotel. i left you a voicemail.
my question is
whether this was an isolated firing, or if the funding for whatever
program stanganelli is part of was cut completely. further, were others
fired, or was he the only one? $12 a week doesn’t seem like a figure
that would make or break your organization, so that’s why i want to know
the financial realities of the situation before i write that your
organization couldn’t cough up $12 a week to keep stanganelli on the
We also left Oliveira a voicemail. We haven’t heard back.
According to the GLEC website, the organization appears to have four
full-time employees, each of whom we’ll assume makes more than $12 a
week. We’ll also assume they have an office, an electric bill, an air conditioner, a copy
machine, and multiple staplers. In other words, if Stanganelli’s was an
isolated firing, the group probably could have found other ways to trim
the ($12 a week) fat.
The Wyndham Hotel has nothing to do with hiring, firing, or paying Stanganelli.
Stanganelli’s family spoke with a local ABC affiliate, which gives the following heartbreaking account:
“He’s thrilled when he gets his paycheck,” Beverly Stanganelli, Mark’s mother, told ABC News affiliate WCVB.
However, the relatively small paycheck – $24 every other week – isn’t
the most important part for Stanganelli and other disabled adults.
“By having that groove and that routine, it builds their self-esteem,
it builds their stability, their security and also their sense of
worth,” Gerald Stanganelli, Mark’s father, told WCVB.
His family was hesitant to share the news of the termination with Mark.
“I couldn’t believe this was happening. I didn’t want to share that
with Mark. I wanted him to be successful again,” his mother told WCVB.
“I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like on the 11th. It’s so much a part of him,” his father said.
The Stanganelli family hopes Mark will get the chance to go back to work, either at the hotel or somewhere else.
“Maybe there’s some way they can find the ability to look at Mark
again and realize he’s been such a good worker and he at least deserves
this,” his mother said.
Stanganelli’s last day is scheduled to be Friday. We’ll let you know if we hear back from GLEC.