Lindsey (Wentz) Willhelm, a former VR Consumer recently received the North American Rescue (NAR) Ellenburg Employee of the Month Award for May 2019. Lindsey, a Contract Specialist with NAR/TRM , was described as a “dedicated team player” who “exceeds expectations on. . . completing challenging tasks”.
Qwavez Henderson, a former VR consumer, was recognized as Associate of the Month for January 2019 at Embassy Suites by Hilton Greenville Golf Resort & Conference Center. Qwavez has been a complimentary breakfast utility attendant for Embassy Suites since May 2018 and has excelled in many different areas of his job.
Tommy Pruitt, Human Resources Manager at Ruiz Foods, recently discussed the opportunities available at Ruiz Foods and the importance of the ManuFirstSC credential with VR Consumers during the third week of ManuFirstSC training held at the Southeastern Institute for Manufacturing and Technology (SiMT), which is part of Florence-Darlington Technical College. The ManuFirst SC credential is recognized by the industry as the equivalent to one year’s manufacturing experience, which is what many manufacturers require for an entry-level job. During the training, students learn about safety, quality practices and measurement, manufacturing processes and production, maintenance awareness, and OSHA-10.
After graduating from high school in May 2018, Mikayla Pucetas wanted to enter the workforce but needed some assistance. In September, she attended job preparedness classes at VR’s Spartanburg Training Center. During this time she expressed interest in fork lift training, which she enthusiastically completed. She was hired by the Rite Aid Distribution Center in November and continues to be very happy and successful in her role. Mikayla is currently being cross-trained to work in various areas of the distribution center.
Joan Phillips started her new position as a Job Coach at VR's Charleston office on April 22, 2019. A former special needs teacher at Brentwood Middle and Burke High Schools, Phillips was a VR consumer participating in the Training Center when she learned that the position was available. Her prior experience in the field of special education made her an excellent fit for the role.
Fourteen students along with transition staff from VR's Greenville office recently attended an event hosted by the Swamp Rabbits, Greenville’s hockey team. The Swam Rabbits provided a morning of activities and hands-on learning experiences for all attendees.
Brothers Shawn and Ray Hernandez were delighted to meet and have their picture taken with Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette when she toured the Worksman Cycles factory in Conway on March 22, 2019. Shawn and Ray are two of nearly 20 VR consumers employed at Worksman in positions that include assembly, warehousing, painting, welding and office work.
Students who receive services from VR’s Greenville and Greer Training Centers, or who participate in Project SEARCH at St. Francis Hospital, recently attended a special “STEAM Day” (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) event at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, SC.
Twenty-seven students participated in a variety of STEAM activities hosted by local businesses, including assembling small robots, 3D printing, experimenting with music creation using computers, and experiencing virtual reality learning. They also went behind the scenes to tour the area and learn about the many different career opportunities available at Bon Secours. The event ended with the students watching the University of Florida play the University of Mississippi women’s basketball game, part of the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament.
Felipe Gallegos came to VR’s Bryant Center in Lyman in March 2017, hoping to receive services and assistance that could help him return to work after a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Felipe had a successful career as a welder at Spartanburg Steel. He made a good living, and provided a loving home for his wife, Consuelo, and their children. Felipe is also close to his brother, and they worked together raising and breaking horses.
In late 2016, Felipe and his brother were working with a horse that had not yet been ridden. Felipe later explained that he had “an argument with a horse, and I lost.” The horse kicked the left side of Felipe’s head, resulting in a skull fracture and a brain bleed (stroke), which left Felipe in a coma for more than six weeks.
After completing his GED, consumer Dylan Moring excelled in the Camden Training Center. He learned valuable skills such as the importance of quality, how to be more productive, and how to work in a team environment. Dylan was then offered an opportunity to participate in a job tryout at Roy’s Wood Products, where he demonstrated that he would be a valuable employee. After completing the job tryout, he was hired as a full-time cabinet maker. We are very happy for Dylan and look forward to seeing his continued success.
VR staff recently transformed the Beaufort Training Center into a "Career Cluster Expo" to highlight tourism-related businesses from across the lowcountry. A number of local VR business partners spoke to consumers, including Gina Shetzer, from a local boutique, who gave tips on appropriate dress and grooming for interviews. She was followed by Goodwill Industries, which presented clothing vouchers to participants. Representatives from local hotels; restaurants; golf maintenance providers; county government and Sodexo, which provides food services for local hospitals, were present and hiring for a variety of positions.
VR’s Walterboro Office was recently part of Leadership Colleton’s Education and Workforce Day. Leadership Colleton participants learned about VR services, partners, and toured the Job Readiness Training Center.
The Walterboro-Colleton Chamber of Commerce created Leadership Colleton to help develop a core of informed, committed and qualified individuals for leadership roles.
Juana Ospina was looking for a way to build her confidence, advance her skills and enjoy a career. With assistance from Vocational Rehabilitation, she did just that. As she completed job readiness training, Juana’s determination and potential was apparent to everyone in VR's Moncks Corner office. Although very quiet and unsure of herself, Juana was highly competent and possessed exceptional attention to detail.
Vernelle Gettie is not afraid of hard work. At the age of 8, she began spending the daylight hours after school in the fields of Saluda County picking cotton and peaches alongside her grandmother.
At 18, when most teens are looking for their first job, Vernelle, with ten years of work experience, became a mother. She dropped out of her rural high school to take a job as a housekeeper in an Aiken hotel, which required her to make a daily sixty-mile commute. She kept that routine for five years, until she decided to move to Detroit to live with family. The Motor City offered many opportunities, and Vernelle found employment in the food service and environmental service industries. However, she discovered that the work she most enjoyed was at a facility that served residents with disabilities.
Fischer Packaging & Automation is a local BMW supplier that provides opportunities for VR consumers to gain skills in the Anderson training center. John Lee, a manager at Fischer Packaging, frequently visits the training center where he is able to observe consumers as they receive training on projects for the company. Lee recently hired VR consumer Kristopher Brown and has been very impressed with him. Kristopher was the first consumer to complete Anderson’s in-house forklift training program. At the training center, Kristopher received both classroom instruction and hands-on forklift training.
In addition to Kristopher, Lee has hired one other consumer, and is planning to hire a third consumer in the near future.
Twenty-five consumers recently attended a Mobile Job Fair at the VR's Seneca office. The job fair was held on a special bus operated by Human Technologies Inc. (HTI).
Students from VR’s Conway and Georgetown offices recently participated in the Ride and Decide program, which was created by the South Carolina Association of Heating and Air Conditioning Contractors to provide high school juniors and seniors opportunities for employment in the HVAC field. Tania Appel, VR Business Development Specialist, facilitated partnerships with local HVAC companies to help promote Ride and Decide. Three students were hired by companies participating in the program.
The 13th annual Mayors Committee for People with Disabilities Walk and Roll was held earlier this month in downtown Spartanburg. More than 600 individuals marched one mile from Morgan Square to the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium where a celebration that included all school districts was held.
This year's theme was "Empowering All: Embrace Your Super Hero" and a students were treated to presentations by teachers dressed as Wonder Woman, Batman, and the Hulk. Many other teachers, also dressed as superheroes, mingled with students in the audience.
People often need a variety of experiences to find their niche in life, and often surprise themselves when they discover the right path. Michael Magill is one of those individuals. He was referred to VR by the Berkeley County School District during his junior year of high school. At the time, Michael was considering various options for completing high school: attend virtual school, obtain a GED, or remain in school and earn his diploma. He tried virtual school, but it did not meet his needs. So he decided to push through the “awkward social setting” of public school to finish his senior year at Stratford High School.
Michael was also undecided on which vocational goal he wanted to pursue. Because of this uncertainty, Michael’s VR counselor worked with him to explore various career paths.
Lucinda Blend, a driver for Clemson Area Transit (CATbus), was following her usual route through Clemson University campus on January 19, 2018 when she began to smell an electrical aroma in the bus. As she reached for the radio to advise headquarters, a passenger in the back of the bus yelled “Fire!”