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UniFirst Honored for Providing English Classes to Immigrant Workers

Company commits to helping diverse workforce succeed

WILMINGTON, Mass. — UniFirst Corp., a provider of customized work uniform programs, corporate attire and facility service products to businesses throughout North America, has received a 2018 Business Leadership Award from English for New Bostonians, the company reports. 

The award recognizes UniFirst’s support of workplace English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes for its employee team partners. English for New Bostonians creates opportunities for immigrants to learn English and pursue their economic, educational and civic goals. 

The award was presented to UniFirst President and CEO Steven Sintros and Executive Vice President Cynthia Croatti at the “Raising Our Voices” breakfast, an annual awards ceremony held in Boston, attended by honorees and several state-level officials. 

“English for New Bostonians’ Raising Our Voices event shines a light on great businesses and people in Massachusetts who are supporting their immigrant workers by offering English language classes in the workplace,” says Claudia Green, executive director of English for New Bostonians. “Our nominating committee selected UniFirst as an award recipient because they do just that, and in doing so, help lift the voices of immigrants.”

UniFirst currently offers free weekly ESOL classes after work for the diverse work force at its Dorchester and Springfield, Mass., locations. The program, implemented two years ago, has been such an overwhelming success in helping these employees succeed in the workplace that it is now included in the company’s local benefits package, the company says. UniFirst also hopes to expand this program into other locations across North America.

“We’re especially proud to receive this distinguished award from English for New Bostonians,” says Sintros. “UniFirst is committed to providing professional development opportunities for all of our employee team partners, at all levels. We’re happy to help our limited-English-proficient workers by investing in resources they can use to advance their careers within our company. Their success is our success.”

Angela Spinola, a production employee at the UniFirst-Dorchester plant, has been taking the company’s ESOL classes since the program’s inception with nearly a 100% attendance rate. 

“Angela is a model student whom we deeply value as a team partner,” says Brian DiFillippo, UniFirst-Dorchester general manager. “She approaches all of her studies with a steadfast commitment and good humor, and cheerfully assists the coworkers who are also her classmates.”   

Spinola sees this opportunity as a way to advance her career within the company and appreciates the convenience of taking classes directly after work. 

“I feel so fortunate to be able to work for a company that cares about my success and helps me achieve my goals,” says Spinola. “Learning English shouldn’t have to be difficult. However, it can be very challenging after working all day and having to go to another job, or go home and take care of your family. UniFirst makes it easy for me to attend class right here after work. I can then go home at a normal time to be with my family. It has really helped me succeed in work and in life here in the U.S.”