Case Studies

Joseph Caraciolo – AHRC NYC

‘Last hurrah’ about sheltering NYC’s neediest

It was mid-September when Joseph Caraciolo answered a call from Blueprint, and the sounds of the big city were audible from his cell phone. He was shuttling among some of the 220 or so diverse properties leased, owned and managed by AHRC NYC, a primarily government-funded nonprofit that serves more than 15,000 New Yorkers with intellectual and developmental disabilities. With auditors coming in from Albany for safety inspections, he wasn’t leaving anything to chance.

There’s too much at stake, Caraciolo says, about his “last hurrah” of directing AHRC NYC’s facilities management since November 2022. He didn’t really need another job after 37 years in similar roles with the private sector, but AHRC NYC has extra meaning for this man who, with the help of the U.S. Navy, overcame the dyslexia that his high school teachers might have overlooked.

Joseph Caraciolo | Director, Facilities Management | AHRC NYC

Joseph Caraciolo | Director, Facilities Management | AHRC NYC

“I understand what it’s like to have a disability,” Caraciolo says. “I believe that everyone should have the opportunity I got.”

He might be a tad modest because it would seem Caraciolo mostly made rather than got the opportunities to succeed at what he considers his calling. But just as the Navy aided his cause, he’s passionate about assisting others who also need a helping hand. For him, it means ensuring some of the city’s most vulnerable residents have safe and adequate living quarters.

And with AHRC NYC’s portfolio including group homes, co-ops, condominiums and apartment buildings of every size as well as a healthcare clinic and other services, that’s a lot of real estate for Caraciolo and his team to oversee.

FMX spells efficiency

The FMX ticketing system he’s implemented simplifies the task, Caraciolo explaining how this software enables resident managers to communicate remotely with his facilities team. This improves response time and allows for notifications and tracking once a ticket arrives.

Though his team is modest—six technicians, two managers and two assistants—he wants to outsource as little as possible. Still, the to-do list can seem endless, including mowing and clearing debris from yards, refreshing the paint in individual living units, cleansing exteriors of graffiti, automating outdoor lighting, ensuring security and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, sanitizing common space and exterminating vermin.

Joseph Caraciolo | Director, Facilities Management | AHRC NYC

And those can be just the everyday responsibilities. Mindful of energy costs, AHRC NYC is installing solar panels in some buildings and investing in LED lighting and window and roof replacement. While it’s a substantial investment, Caraciolo says it’ll reduce long-term maintenance costs as well as enhance the aesthetics and longevity of properties.

He’s always trying to stay ahead of the seasons, and his summer agenda includes inspections and upgrades to the heating systems and boilers that soon will be activated. As winter sets in, he’ll do the same for the central air conditioners that will be duly humming come May or June.

“We’re all about the residents,” he says. “We’re here to help people, to take care of them and their families.”

Overcoming dyslexia

Having a lifelong knack for mechanical systems and empathy for people with challenges makes Caraciolo an appropriate fit for AHRC NYC.

He speaks candidly about how he barely graduated high school because of his reading and writing deficiencies. Yet his math and science strengths were formidable and utilized during his naval service from 1981 to 1985, with him serving as Mess specialist MS-3 aboard the nuclear submarine USS Sam Rayburn. An instructor officer recognized the dyslexia at the New London Nuclear Power Submarine School, and Caraciolo’s condition was addressed with the help of Navy manuals.

“In the Navy, everything is in steps: one, two, three,” he says. “Because of those procedures, I learned better from the manuals than I ever did from books. I went on to learn computers and Word documents.”

Those skills having enhanced his logical aptitude, Caraciolo adjusted well to private life, commencing with a position in building management at New York City’s Rockefeller Center. He became licensed in refrigeration and other vocations and taught courses at a technical school. From 2001 to 2022, he held various engineering roles with Swig Equities. Since then, he’s had a consulting firm as well as the AHRC NYC position for which he was recruited and reckons he’ll hold onto it for a couple more years. There’s quite a legacy to sustain.

Joseph Caraciolo | Director, Facilities Management | AHRC NYC

As for the organization’s name, it stood for Association for the Help of Retarded Children when founded in 1949. While the antiquated name is no longer used, the four letters endure, and the mission has expanded to include adults and families.

“It’s most satisfying to see a place fixed up and the residents enjoying comfort,” he says. “It’s normal for the residential manager to thank our team for their dedication.”

Long Island-born and bred, Caraciolo was one of nine children raised by an Italian father and Irish mother. He says five of his brothers also pursued mechanical engineering, while his two sisters and another brother have done well in medical professions.

Must be something in the genes.

“My father was an auto mechanic, and, as a kid, I could take engines apart, fix cars and do what most kids couldn’t,” he says. “Reading was my problem.”

But with the help of an understanding mother and supportive Navy instructors, Caraciolo turned that problem into a strength and, since last year, has refocused his career into assisting a nonprofit as it provides shelter and services for a very needy clientele. Frustrating as his schoolboy days might have been, he’s got no regrets about how things worked out.

“This disability enhanced my life because it taught me to strive to be better,” Caraciolo says.

View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. IX 2023 Edition here.

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