For some, working at a mail fulfillment center may be unappealing, but others relish it. 

“It’s about the opportunities you can get here and we just have a good time working,” said Karshim Hooks, who lives in Albany.

Hooks is just one of 50 people with some form of disability working on state contracts at the Center for Disability Services’ mail fulfillment center in Albany. But Hooks and his peers are some of the lucky ones. According to New York State Industries for the Disabled, 67 percent of New Yorkers with disabilities are unemployed.

“They’ve looked at a lot of different industries we may not be capitalizing on now,” said Maureen O’Brien, NYSID CEO. “They have a different viewpoint of where business is going in the future and where we may be able to really fit.”

NYSID has partnered with two MBA students from Notre Dame who, as part of their capstone project, are helping figure out how to employ and retain more people with disabilities. 

“More and more, the things they have done in the past like mailing, for example, with technology is going to go out of date,” said Zevi Fefoame. “We are thinking of things in the area of customer service, in the area of IT, all of those new things that are coming.”

It’s an issue Fefoame is all too familiar with.

“My mom is blind. There is something about being able to work that empowers you,” she said.

Fefoame says the people working at the mail fulfillment center are living proof.

“There is no other place; I mean where would I be without these people,” said Hooks.