Carol Blum began working at Allentown Industries in 1984, assembling, packaging and collating items for various area companies.
In 1994, Fred Siegel came onboard at the downtown factory, landing a job in the shipping department, where he loads and unloads products for the agency’s customers.
Blum and Siegel were among the 99 Allentown Industries employees honored Friday for logging milestone years with the agency that provides vocational training and employment for adults with disabilities.
“This day we say ‘thank you,’ ” said Michael Gross, executive director of Heritage Centers, which runs Allentown Industries, to the award recipients. “You provide a tremendous service to companies. You’re helping the economy of Western York. You are a part of the greater whole of Western New York.”
About 200 family and friends filled the agency’s main work floor on at the Heritage Center’s headquarters on Oak Street.
Employees with varying degrees of disabilities and with years of service ranging from 5 up to 45 years received awards, medals and certificates. Casimer Dabrowski and Lilian Gabel were the longest serving workers. Both were honored for their 45 years of service.
Allentown Industries has put 400 adults to work at various businesses in the community through its supported program.
It operates three supervised sheltered workshops that employ 220 people, doing contract work for more than 150 regional companies.
The agency also runs the area’s largest furniture refinishing business, employing 100 people in that division.
Additionally, it runs a lawn care and janitorial service.
“I’m glad Allentown Industries gave me a chance 20 years ago,” said Siegel, who is 49. “It’s an honor to work here.”
As recipients were called, they received rousing applause from the audience. While some ran with excitement, others basked in the moment, lingering in the attention.
And Sean Simms, who was honored for 20 years of work, took to the microphone, sharing that his mother died in November.
“I just want to say, ‘Mom, I love you,’ ” he said, choking up.
In addition to providing an income, Blum said her 30 years at the Allentown Industries also provided her with an additional family through her ties with fellow co-workers and the agency’s support staff.