Business savvy

Two Northeast residents are honored at JEVS Human Services’ annual Strictly Business Awards ceremony.

Local stars shine bright: Frankford’s Rodney Boyd (left) and Bustleton’s Mariah Vargas (right) were given the Inspiration Award at the annual Strictly Business Awards ceremony. Boyd has overcome cerebral palsy to raise two young children independently, and Vargas landed a job with an insurance company after earning her GED. TOM WARING / TIMES PHOTOS

Frankford’s Rodney Boyd has overcome cerebral palsy to raise two young children independently, while Bustleton’s Mariah Vargas landed a job with an insurance company after earning her GED.

Boyd and Vargas are the kind of people JEVS Human Services likes to honor at its annual Strictly Business Awards ceremony.

“This is an opportunity to brag about the work we do and tell stories of how we’ve changed lives for individuals in the community,” said Jay Spector, president and CEO of JEVS. “This day is a celebration. People just need an extra touch to help guide them.”

The 19th annual awards program took place at the Sheraton Hotel in Center City. About 650 people attended the networking event and luncheon to honor Boyd, Vargas and other award winners. Proceeds will fund scholarships to JEVS’ vocational assessment, job readiness, skills training and career management services for individuals in need.

Boyd and Vargas were each given the Inspiration Award.

“I’m honored and humbled at the same time,” Boyd said. “I never imagined I’d get picked.”

Boyd, 33, works part-time in the electronics department at the Walmart at 4600 Roosevelt Blvd.

“I’m a people person. I love dealing with the public,” he said.

Boyd works while raising his 9-year-old son, Rodney Jr., and 4-year-old daughter, L’Amour.

JEVS has provided him with a chair glide for the basement stairs, an automatic back door opener and assistance with daily living activities.

As he looks to the future, he wants to run his own technology business.

“My passion is IT,” he said. “Anything with technology, I love to do, building and fixing and troubleshooting computers.”

Boyd’s award was supported by Stephanie Blank, a JEVS supports coordination program manager, and Michele McCray, a JEVS service coordinator.

“He’s a hard worker and keeps moving on. The goal is to help him remain independent in the community,” Blank said.

“He came highly recommended. The first time I met him, he was so hard working and dedicated to work,” McCray said.

Vargas, 21, grew up in poverty and attended more than a dozen elementary schools. She never enrolled in high school after graduating from eighth grade, and an attempt at home schooling did not work out. She spent free time cheerleading and later got a job in a nursing home.

In the summer of 2015, she enrolled in JEVS Project World of Work, held at Orleans Technical College, 2770 Red Lion Road.

Project WOW is a program for high school dropouts ages 18–24 that prepares students with the job skills, life skills and the GED or diploma they need to build a path to career success.

Vargas earned her GED in six months.

“I grew up going to JEVS. It was the first adult thing I had to do by myself,” she said. “You have to push yourself, even if you’re not comfortable.”

Vargas studies psychology at Community College of Philadelphia’s Northeast Regional Center and works at Kramer Insurance Center in Langhorne. She hopes to get licensed to sell insurance.

“It would be a good job to have,” she said.

Vargas hopes to earn her associate’s degree, and is considering going on to trade school, perhaps to study massage therapy.

“I’m so proud of her perseverance and accomplishments,” said Denise Page, academic facilitator for Project WOW. “I’ve watched her grow and succeed. She’s on her way.” ••