Diane Cowles - NYSID William B. Joslin Award Winner 2010

We're very proud to announce that one of our hard-working employees, Diane Cowles, was a recent winner of the 2010 NYSID William B. Joslin Award.

The Joslin award, issued yearly, celebrates the outstanding employment and personal achievements of New Yorkers with disabilities.

Diane Cowles suffered from Asthma as a young child and as she grew into an adult developed Multiple Sclerosis. She had lived with the effects of MS since 1989, and then in 1998 was also diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. The diagnosis of cancer was a devastating blow. Facing surgery, and then undergoing a grueling regimen of chemotherapy and radiation treatments would leave her sick, weak and with no appetite. To regain her health required visiting nurse care for over 3 months. Unable to work, she lost her primary means of support.

Before these debilitating diseases captured her life, Ms. Cowles had a very healthy working career. She enjoyed working at the Helmsley Palace Hotel as an administrative assistant to Leona Helmsley and their banquet manager. She also worked as an executive assistant to the CEO of Gerald Gutterman Inc. As her condition began to worsen, Ms. Cowles held a position at Metal Bulletin Holding Corporation as a customer representative, but finally took a leave of absence in 1999 to have one of her lungs removed. Four months after the operation she endured 6 – 8 weeks of chemotherapy, followed by another 6 – 8 weeks of radiation treatments.

As she began to recover Ms. Cowles began seeing an oncologist for almost a year while she attended a therapy group. The therapist took her in for a nominal fee and treated her for close to a year. Through her therapy sessions, she heard about Gilda’s Club (a support group founded by Gilda Ratner for people who have gone through cancer and their families) located in lower Manhattan. The club offered many activities, events, outings and taught their members among other things that "life is still good." Determined to get back into the workforce, someone at the Club told her about GoodTemps and she came in to register.

GoodTemps first placed Ms. Cowles into a temporary position through a NYSID contract with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development where she worked for 3 months. She remembers how hard it was to get her energy back and wanted very much to make this assignment a success. She was placed again shortly thereafter and excelled beyond all expectations as an administrative assistant at the New York City Board of Education (another NYSID contract). According to her supervisor "Ms. Cowles’s performance and dedication to the tasks were remarkable."

Ms. Cowles was placed again by GoodTemps though yet another NYSID contract with the New York City Department of Transportation where she again exceeded expectations and received excellent reviews from her onsite supervisors. In a letter to Ms. Cowles it was noted "Your excellent performance allowed this Division to achieve its responsibilities in a very timely and professional fashion."

In addition to her success at work, Ms. Cowles is a pillar in her community. She is one of the founding staff of UN We Believe, which promotes the power of and belief in the important part the United Nations should play in the matters of the world today. She also volunteers with Northern Lights, an organization that helps large numbers of women infected with HIV during their pregnancy and then works with their ailing babies. She donates her remaining free time as a coordinator to the Westsides’ Hell’s Kitchen Alliance with accomplishments that include helping to pass a law that awarded property to Public School 46 to build a new tower for classrooms and a complete renovation of the existing school and ensuring that 18% of a newly built apartment building was reserved for the elderly.

Given the opportunity to reenter the workforce through Preferred Source contracts, Ms. Cowles has proven to be a reliable, conscientious and valuable asset to her employers overcoming multiple severe disabilities to contribute to the their success and earn their respect as a valued employee. GoodTemps has received only positive feedback from each of her supervisors during her entire tenure, and she was recently specifically requested by one of her former NYC Department of Education supervisors for a new assignment. In addition to her contributions at work, as a volunteer she has unselfishly donated much of her free time toward helping others in her community. Ms. Cowles continues to be an exemplary role model not only for people with disabilities, but for us all. Ms. Cowles said finally "without GoodTemps and NYSID I don’t know what would’ve happened to me."

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