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Hearing The Need For A Second Chance

Garden City residents give hearing impaired a shot at employment

Long time Garden City resident Joseph Giacinto and his wife Valerie recently attended the first annual Sailing the Sound for Deafness fundraiser at the Mill Neck Manor to benefit children who are deaf, hard of hearing and who have other special needs. The Mill Family of Organizations which is housed on 86 acres surrounding the gold coast mansion of Mill Neck Manor, has a school for the deaf, an early childhood center for children with speech and language difficulties as well as an audiology center for the community. Not only do the Giacintos support the organization, but they also hire the deaf.

Giacinto is the president and CEO of Carle Place’s PBI Payroll, which does the payroll and outsourcing for human resources for Mill Neck Manor. For years they have been hiring deaf people to work in their organization. “Deafness is not a disability. The deaf workers we have are phenomenal people, extremely patient and extremely dedicated beyond belief and they are inspirational. It’s been a great experience. It adds to the family nature of our company, which is [something] we push for and it gives us a different flavor. It’s nice; emotionally [and] spiritually, it really changes things for us.”

His wife Valerie, added, “Having deaf people work for us is a great experience and we try to encourage other companies to hire deaf employees.”

Both Giacintos have always been very community-minded and when they first got the call from someone asking if they would consider hiring a deaf person to work at their company they decided to try it. It worked out so well they continued to add more deaf people to their organization. One of their deaf workers even became the subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary Sound and Fury which debates the use of cochlear implants to help hearing-impaired children hear.

Along with hiring the deaf, the couple wanted to be able to communicate with them as well. Valerie Giacinto enrolled in sign class because, “I wanted to talk to the employees on a personal level and not just on a business level.” They then brought in an interpreter to help the hearing-impaired and hearing communicate with one another through signing. “We wanted our employees to learn sign language so there would be interaction between our hearing and deaf employees and it has worked out great.”

Joe Giacinto added that the other employees reacted extremely well. “At first there is some apprehension to a deaf person, then you become familiar, then friendly, then the walls start to break down. They are extremely appreciative that you try to sign, even if you screw it up, which I do often.”  He shared one story about going to 7-11 and signing to one worker if she wanted anything. “I got confused on my signs for numbers and used my middle finger.” They haven’t stopped laughing about it since.