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Ride and Decide program leads to success in Conway and Georgetown

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.

Heroes assemble for Walk & Roll

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.

Training opportunities lead to employment at Volvo

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.

Sumter Area Business Partnership Breakfast

More than two dozen individuals representing fourteen businesses and organizations throughout the Sumter area participated in a recent Business Partnership Breakfast at the Sumter Office.  Speakers included Laura Spears, VR Transition Services Coordinator; Steve Patterson, VR Correctional Program Development Specialist; and Val Gioia, VR Rehabilitation Engineer.

Celebrate the 28th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

July 26, 2018 marks the 28th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) signed by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990.

The ADA and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) give civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion.

Re-entry Job Fairs offer opportunities across the state

Job seekers and employers recently converged on Summerville for the South Coast Re-entry Job Fair. More than 100 job seekers interviewed with 23 employers for positions ranging from hospitality to construction. Six individuals were hired on the spot and many others are expected to be offered positions over the coming weeks.

In Columbia, more than 80 job seekers attended the Central Re-entry Job Fair at Dutch Square Mall where they interviewed with 26 employers.

VR client receives Student of the Year Achievement Award in Orangeburg

VR client David Tanner Smith recently received the Orangeburg Mayor’s Committee for Employment of Persons with Disabilities Student of the Year Achievement Award.

Tanner was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and and intellectual disability at a young age. Although he has difficulties with social cues and abstract concepts, Tanner is friendly and outgoing. Through hard work, and with the help of tutors and family, he received a high school diploma from Glenforest School in Columbia, SC.

Masks reveal hope and determination

The final group activity for participants of VR’s four-week brain injury comprehensive evaluation is an art project. Each individual in the most recent class created a mask that reveals something about their life with a brain injury and what they have learned while at VR. For many, the mask is also a way to express they are leaving behind negativity they have experienced relating to their brain injury and how they will focus on what they can accomplish.

Meet Project SEARCH students from Richland County

Meet some of the Richland One School District students who are part of Project SEARCH in the Midlands in this short video from WLTX. Instead of attending regular classes, the students selected for Project SEARCH have spent their last year of high school doing unpaid internships at Embassy Suites. They have become immersed in the work environment and learned a variety of transferable job skills.

Project SEARCH graduation in Greenville

In partnership with the VR Greenville office and the Greenville County School District, Bon Secours St. Francis Health System recently graduated its first group of Project SEARCH interns.

Watch video of the graduation and read more about Project SEARCH at Bon Secours St. Francis Health System at both WSPA.com and WYFF4.com.

Project SEARCH is an international school-to-work program model that provides high school students with disabilities internship opportunities in a work environment, with the ultimate goal of competitive employment.

Job preparedness education in Richland

The VR Richland office recently held its Quarterly Job Preparedness Education Week. Participating clients learned about proper grooming and appearance for an interview and for a work setting, the difference between business casual and business professional dress, and received insight into the job interview process. They conducted mock interviews, received feedback, and learned how to improve their responses. During a budgeting workshop, clients received tips on managing their money, how to eliminate debts and how to set realistic short and long-term goals.

Broadcasting success in Seneca

Maricus Lewis’s success story begins in 2012 when he was referred to VR’s Seneca office for services by the School District of Oconee County. His dream was to become a radio broadcaster and producer.

After graduating from Seneca High School, Maricus  attended Tri-County Technical College to pursue a degree in radio communications. At Tri-County Technical College Maricus studied hard and joined the school radio station. However, he did not have transportation of his own and had to rely on friends, family, and public transportation to get to and from school.

Hard work leads to opportunity

The Orangeburg Office recently celebrated the first graduate of the Janitorial Advanced Training Program (JATP). Melissa Friedman is happily working as the newest housekeeping technician for Orangeburg Rehabilitation and Health Care Center.

After earning a Job Readiness Training certificate in the Orangeburg Training Center, Melissa became the second candidate to enter the JATP, which is organized and administered by Stephen Kesler, Vocational Assessment and Career Specialist. Once she completed the JATP, she began a job training opportunity with Orangeburg Rehabilitation and Health Care Center.

Q-Stories

The following comments are from a client who recently completed the four-week comprehensive evaluation services offered by VR:

“The staff here at VR are great people. The teamwork that was shown to me was excellent. I was impressed because they all worked (together) to help me. Everyone knew my issues. When I had medical issues, everyone helped. I am taking home a new lifestyle and confidence.

P.S. The food was great!”

VR clients may be referred for comprehensive evaluation services for an in-depth assessment. Their strengths, abilities, interests, types of jobs they are best suited for, and the services required to help them achieve employment success are evaluated.

Job fair shows students lots of career opportunities

The Oconee-Pickens VR office recently participated in the third annual Graduates to Work Job Fair at Liberty High School, which was attended by more than 200 seniors.

Business Development Specialist Dan Alexander explained to those at the fair that VR assists students with disabilities.

“We start working with kids age 16, because that allows us to find out where they’re coming from and what they’re looking at and what their career objective is,” Alexander said. “We want to make sure we’re working to fulfill those goals. I’m always interested to listen about what fields they’re (students) interested in entering.”

Project SEARCH co-founder visits students in Spartanburg

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.

Customized training

VR is developing strong partnerships with local businesses and industries to understand their specific needs, and in turn provide them with job candidates who have the skills and training required by those businesses. To accomplish this, VR is also partnering with technical colleges around the state.