“Ability Beyond Saved My Life.”
As a Bronx native, Patrick Vicale found hope and a new life with Ability Beyond more than 40 years ago after his mother referred him to our career development program. After working decades in the field, Vicale came to work at Ability Beyond helping other people served in our employment programs.
“Ability Beyond saved my life,” Pat said. “That’s how long ago I started here. They got me out of the house, gave me jobs, gave me support.”
Paired with his steadfast Job Trainer Geoff, Pat found structure in a variety of jobs: eight years collecting bottles for redemption, four years planting flowers with a mobile landscaping crew. Pat also had a stint at a sheltered workshop in Danbury, before Ability Beyond was one of the first organizations to eliminate segregated work environments in favor of community-based employment for all.
Based on Pat’s personal growth, warm nature, and work ethic, Diane Strom, the Day and Work Program Manager with Ability Beyond chose him to lead projects for a partnership with Belimo that was new at the time.
“Diane left an impact on me, because she trusted me to take care of things,” Pat said.
Meticulous, Detail-Oriented, Respectful, and Kind.
That’s how Pat’s coworkers and supervisors have described the longtime Ability Beyond employee, now in his 60s, who retired this summer after 24 years of celebrated service.
During a special gathering in Danbury, Pat’s work family celebrated his impact.
“He’s always been a great role model for the individuals we serve,” said Strom. “He relates well to what they’ve gone through and was a great friend to them. He is highly appreciated, and staff especially know how much work he has done—how much he has helped them over the years.”
More than a job, Pat said that Ability Beyond provided a lifeline and a community.
“I’m gonna miss everybody,” he said from his Danbury home. “My time at Ability was a good time in my life. They were the closest people to me in my life. People I cared about, and people that cared about me.”
An Eye for Detail
Pat’s work at Belimo has included quality control assurance, team collaboration, and, most recently, “pulling the jobs”—in other words, scouring a vast library of nuts, bolts, washers, and screws, so that Ability Beyond clients can assemble kits to build specialty hardware for Belimo products.
By the time Pat retired in July 2023, he was more than a veteran employee. He was an encyclopedia of knowledge, a human classification system, and the resident expert on small parts. Diane said he navigated racks that contained enough pieces for 200 distinct jobs.
“He knows where every part is located,” Diane said. “He knows what they look like, what jobs they go in, and he can tell by sight the difference between screws if one has an extra little twist in it.”
Once Pat had gathered pieces for a job, he would count them out, weigh the bags, make the labels, and create the packing slips. When small jobs came through—25 pieces or fewer—Pat would build them himself.
“There’s so many parts we deal with, but I’d ask Pat a question and he had the answer,” said Tania Jimenez, a Day and Work Supervisor who began working with Pat in 2011. “I was always complimenting him about that. I was like, ‘Pat, don’t ever leave. Can I just clone you?”
Pat would laugh, she said, and say, “Don’t worry—you guys got it.”
Tania said that everyone will miss working with Pat. Beyond his mental inventory, Pat has been a fixture for clients, coworkers, and staff. It’s like a family, Tania said. But what matters most is that he can rest now.
“His retirement is well-deserved,” Tania said. “He’s been with Belimo since Day 1.”
Leaving a Legacy of Care
At work, Pat could answer any question about small parts and job assembly, drum up excitement about Italian takeout from Bambino's Pizza & Pasta, and make change for the vending machine if you needed a snack. Seeing Pat in the cafeteria having breakfast was also a sign for Tania that the day had begun.
“He was always the first person here,” she said. “He is the sweetest person I ever met, very respectful, and he was a great mentor to me. I came from a group home, doing day work. When I got here, he taught me a lot of things about how to do the job.”
From a young man in search of career guidance to a leader in the workforce, Pat’s journey with Ability Beyond illustrates our commitment to discover, build, and celebrate the talents and unique contributions of every person. In turn, Pat has enriched the lives of his coworkers, supervisors, and friends—and he has come away with the greatest gift, he said: appreciation.
“The positive feeling I have is that they needed me,” Pat said. “They needed me there, they relied on me. It makes me feel good.”
Ability Beyond helps more than 1,750 people annually in our employment programs throughout Connecticut and New York. See what you can do today to help make a difference in someone's life.