After 15 years at a $12-per-week job at the Wyndham Hotel in Lawrence, Mass., Mark Stanganelli, a 45-year-old man with Down syndrome, has been fired.
Stanganelli had been placed in the job polishing silver at the Boston-area hotel by the Greater Lawrence Educational Collaborative, a program designed to place disabled adults in employment. But the program said the funds to keep Stanganelli working have dried up because of budget cuts.
A letter of termination last month informed the family that the Wyndham Hotel setting was “no longer an appropriate option for Mark.” Friday will be Stanganelli’s last day at the hotel.
The Wyndham Hotel has no involvement in the hiring and firing of Stanganelli.
“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 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.”
GLEC spokeswoman Kim Oliviera said in a statement that it wouldn’t comment on this specific case, but that “all programming decisions are made in partnership with collateral agencies and with the intent to bring joy and fulfillment to the individual.”
Stanganelli’s parents are worried about what the loss of his job will do to their son, who they said loves to work.
“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.
“We went to the Department of Development Services and asked if we could have a job coach, a job trainer,” his mother added. ”But we were told no, that due to the budget they were not going to be able to help us out.”
Alec Loftus, communications director for the Executive Office of Health said the agency has reached out to the family, and “will work to find a suitable position that is consistent with Mark’s needs.”