South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department

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Behind the scenes of success

Business Development Specialist Robert Truesdale (right) gives a brief overview of VR to attendees at the 1st Annual Camden Area Business Cookout.

Robert Truesdale, Business Development Specialist in the Camden area, is thrilled with the success of the 1st Annual Camden Area Business Cookout.

“We’ve already had ten new job leads from five different companies, and we have a client who will begin an OJT (on the job training) opportunity tomorrow. We’re also meeting with several employers to discuss how we can better prepare our clients to move into employment with them.”

Truesdale spent several months planning the event, which was promoted on social media using LinkedIn and Eventbrite.

“I challenged the Camden staff to see if we could get 25-30 attendees. I was very surprised it grew so much.” Ultimately, more than 60 people responded using Eventbrite, with 47 of them actually attending.

Truesdale’s goal was to have local employers and community leaders to learn about VR services from a business that is benefiting from them. “I wanted them to hear from an employer—not me. We have a great relationship with HBD Thermoid and I knew they would be a fantastic ambassador for VR.” (see feature)

During the event, Truesdale briefly introduced attendees to four job-ready clients. Since then, he’s had numerous inquiries about those clients from businesses for interviews or job opportunities. “I think it helps to break down the barrier of what a person’s perception of disability means when you see and interact with them.”

One of the simplest ideas Truesdale had was to seat a VR staff member at each table. One attendee commented, “I’ve been to many business events. This is the first one where someone thought enough to put a staff member at the table. It felt so welcoming and personable and I made a connection.”

Truesdale credits the care and hard work of the staff for the success of the event.

“We tilled the ground and planted seeds. Now it’s our job to make those seeds grow into opportunities for our clients.”