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Eval Center helps consumer achieve goals

Jacob Smith attended the Evaluation Center in the summer of 2016. He was referred for weakness in the left side of his body and impaired balance following a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), the medical term for a stroke. He also has chronic kidney disease and receives dialysis treatment three days per week.

Since completing the four-week evaluation, Smith has continued to receive services as a community consumer.

From consumer to employee

When Tara Mae Jackson came to VR, she did not like to socialize with others. Her severe anxiety made it difficult to walk to the end of her driveway to get the mail. She credits VR with helping her learn to “come out of her shell” and self-advocate. In addition to job readiness training, VR also helped her obtain her driver’s license, GED, and Career Readiness Certificate.

Former consumer named Associate of the Month

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.

VR consumers jump start manufacturing careers with ManuFirst SC credential

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.

VR consumers become forklift operators at Rite Aid Distribution Center in Spartanburg

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.

Ground breaking at Seneca VR

Vocational Rehabilitation Seneca recently hosted a Ground Breaking Ceremony to celebrate the expansion of their training center.

More than 90 consumers, business and community partners, and supporters to joined in the celebration of this expansion, which will allow the Seneca office to serve more people with disabilities in Oconee and Pickens counties.

VR consumer becomes VR employee

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.

VR consumers meet lieutenant governor during visit to Worksman Cycles

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 enjoy STEAM activities at Bon Secours Wellness Arena

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.

Welder returns to work with VR help

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.

Job tryout leads to employment for GED graduate

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.

Spring into employment

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.

Walterboro part of Leadership Colleton

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.

Sewing her way to success

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.

Commitment leads to new beginning

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.

Business Success in Anderson: Fischer Packaging & Automation

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.