Getting that letter, now, that makes it all worthwhile.
I will never forget the look on the faces of those employees at Braskem the day
I visited in July. When they knew their jobs would be there tomorrow, they broke into spontaneous applause.
With tears welling in the eyes of many, they knew it was more than a job. It was being able to continue providing for their families and loved ones.
The spontaneous show of emotion in that moment affirmed my belief that anything is possible when we put aside our differences and work together for the good of all Pennsylvanians.
But isn’t this really why we’re all in government? Isn’t that why we’re here, to work together to help people? I hope so.
And we’ve succeeded, not only by preserving jobs like those at the refineries or by creating new jobs, but maybe more importantly, by preparing people for existing jobs.
I’m talking about people like Greg Vasquez. Greg and his wife, Teresa, live in Dillsburg, York County, with their son, Kyle, and daughter, Rachel.
A Marine Corps veteran, Greg worked for 30 years in the printing industry until the day in August of 2011 when he was laid off. He found another job.
Different industry, but same story:
Greg was laid off last summer. Around that time we, working together, Republicans and Democrats, passed legislation creating the Keystone Works Program. This program is built around a worker’s ambition, not bureaucratic rules.
Keystone Works provides on-the-job training to allow displaced workers to train for open positions.
Here’s the great innovation: those trainees don’t have to give-up their unemployment benefits while learning a new skill on the job.
Greg became a trainee at Schugt Manufacturing in York.
Dave Schugt was the first businessman to put the Keystone Works Program in place at his plant. And Greg was the first worker to enroll.
Today, I want to introduce you to two pioneers: Greg Vasquez and his new employer, Dave Schugt.
They are here today because they, their families, and I, want to thank the general assembly and its prime sponsors Representative Stan Saylor and Senator John Gordner for passing Keystone Works.
But even as we celebrate this progress there is more work to be done. There are promises to be kept.
Helping Those in Need
I’d like to share with you my experience on a visit I made recently to Vision for Equality, a social service agency in Philadelphia. I met with families who had adult sons and daughters with severe intellectual disabilities.
Because of their conditions they face challenging lives. And it became even more challenging because they "aged-out" of the services the state provides for children.
They were put on a waiting list - a waiting list that delays their access to the help that would allow them to work, to live at home, to enjoy a full measure of life’s experiences.
But these families would not let these disabilities and the waiting list stand in the way of their dreams.
Brittany Stevens is here today with her mother, Harlena Morton. Harlena wakes up at 4:30 every morning. She makes sure Brittany has physical therapy. She makes sure Brittany has a lunch ready for later in the day.