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.
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.
The co-founder of a 22-year-old program that helps students with learning disabilities land jobs after graduation came to Spartanburg Medical Center on Tuesday to see firsthand the fruits of her labor.
“The biggest joy is seeing people with disabilities get quality skills and jobs,” said Susan Rutowski of Project SEARCH in Cincinnati, which has grown since 1996 to more than 400 programs in 46 states and five other countries.
Spartanburg Medical Center was the first in South Carolina to use Project SEARCH, having worked in 2014 with Dorman High School. Other partners include the S.C. State Workforce Investment Board and the S.C. Vocational Rehabilitation Department. Last year, Pickens and Anderson counties joined the program.
Interim Commissioner Felicia Johnson joined community members to participate in the annual Walk and Roll event held by the Mayors of Spartanburg County Committee for People with Disabilities on October 12, 2017.
Interim Commissioner Felicia Johnson and Board Chair Dr. Roxzanne Breland recently enjoyed hands-on demonstrations of customized training initiatives in the upstate area that offer VR business partners flexibility in filling their workforce needs while providing VR clients with exciting career opportunities.
The SC Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities works with mayors’ committees and state and local agencies to bring greater public awareness to the many talents and qualifications of workers with disabilities and their positive impact on the workforce and our state’s economy.
Each year a number of South Carolina businesses are recognized for their exemplary practices in hiring people with disabilities and actively promoting disability awareness and workforce opportunities in the business community.
Jerald Grimes is a welder at Kobelco Construction Machinery in Moore, SC, where he helps to assemble the upper and lower frames of the 20 ton hydraulic excavators the company produces for worldwide distribution.
“I like welding, any kind of welding,” he says, excitedly. “I’ve been doing this for 31 years and love it.”
The components that Jerald welds fit together are big and require from three to six passes to weld.
“He’s one of my best welders,” says Jason Martel, Production Fabrication Supervisor at Kobelco.
The fabrication area where Jerald works currently produces one and a half frame assemblies per day and are ahead of their schedule.
“We ship one thing out of the plant and that’s a fully assembled excavator,” says Eric Holland, Human Resources Manager at Kobelco. Eventually, the company will produce eight different types of excavators ranging in size from 17 to 50 tons. “Right now, we’re producing one every two days. The next production goal is one a day. The capacity with one shift is 1,800 per year. That’s upwards of nine a day, or one an hour.”
The Spartanburg Area Office partnered with the Upstate Workforce Investment Board and Goodwill to facilitate a Poverty Simulator at the Middle Tyger campus of Spartanburg Community college on October 12.
Hilary Wells, Project SEARCH Job Coach, coordinated a community service project with Project SEARCH interns for a “Hospital Beautification Day” on November 15, 2016 at Spartanburg Medical Center.
Dawn Hamelin, Fiscal Specialist and Wellness Coordinator for the Spartanburg Area Office, challenged staff in the month of October to be “balanced.” Along with many helpful email tips for balanced lifestyles, including eating habits and exercise, she alsoeducated staff on how to “hold a healthy balance.”
Photos from the graduation celebration at the Spartanburg Work Training Center in May for students who are VR clients.