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NCP director steps down

Without the work, some people would have just stayed home collecting disability pay. Instead, they have become longtime members of the regional workforce, and reliable ones at that.

"I enjoyed the work and meeting new friends all those years I've been here. It helped me a lot. I had a lot of new jobs and learned a lot of new things," said Hazel Gutkoska, 51.

She retired last year after 31 years of work through NCP.

Hazel suffers from debilitating seizures. There was a lot of work she was unable to do, she said. NCP and Norton helped her, and her husband, find good work and find each other.

Hazel's husband, Richard, 56, lost half of his brain in a car accident when he was 4 years old. He retired with Hazel after working with NCP 40 years. The two have been married for 15 years.

Despite their disabilities, the two have made a hard-working life together in fields such as in-house production work in Menands or outside jobs, like microfilming, said Hazel.

"I didn't want to sit at home and do nothing. I proved to my family that I could do it," Hazel said.

She presented Norton with a plaque thanking him for his years of services and commitment to NCP. Many lined up to personally thank him. Some gave cards and gifts, one played Norton a song on his harmonica. Most were teary-eyed, including Norton.

"You really made it what it is. I'm going to miss you all," Norton said over lunch.

Richard Bennett will take over as NCP's executive director.

Norton began his career at NCP in 1979 as an assistant business manager. He said he is confident Bennett will carry on NCP's mission and will more than meet the task of continuing to find work for the Capital District's disabled community.""

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