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.
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.
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.
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.
"North American Rescue® (NAR) is as American as baseball and bald eagles (it is in their logo, after all).
You’ve probably seen their building perched up on a hill near I-85, between Pelham Road and Highway 14. You’ve more than likely wondered what they do. What they do is save lives. Really – their mission is to reduce preventable deaths."
- Greenville Today
Zavan Boyd, former client, is thrilled with his job at Family Health Center, and with the services and opportunities he has received from VR.
Zavan, who has ADHD, began working with VR when he was in high school and continued receiving counseling and guidance throughout his time at Benedict College. After graduating with an Accounting degree in May 2017, he attended job preparedness classes and learned a variety of skills at the Orangeburg office's training center.
Representatives from Ruiz Foods, HM Solutions, and the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology (SiMT) joined VR Business Development Specialist Susan Courtney for a panel discussion about VR’s customized training initiatives at the recent Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) Fall Conference in Greenville.
The presentation focused on how VR develops strong partnerships with local businesses and industries to understand their specific needs, and in turn provide them with job candidates who have the specific skills and training required by those businesses. To help provide the required training, VR has partnered with a number of the technical colleges around the state.
A grand opening ceremony was recently held for VR’s newest Training Center, located at the Bryant Center in Lyman. This training center joins a network of 32 locations across the state that help people with disabilities find or maintain employment.
More than 80 individuals attended the recent Lancaster Area Office Open House in its work training center.
One guest stated that the event was “eye opening” and that he “had no idea what amazing resources existed in Lancaster.” Other guests stated that they would be referring individuals for VR services.
Former VR clients Ryan Steward and Fernandez Johnson were recognized with Client Achievement Awards for their inspiration, determination and exceptional accomplishments in reaching their vocational goals.
Simon Castaneda of Berkeley County received VR’s Client Achievement award at the SC Vocational Rehabilitation Association (SCVRA) annual meeting on October 20, 2017.
Entering his senior year of high school in 2015, Simon was having trouble concentrating, had low self confidence and poor motivation. He had been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder ( persistent inattention, hyperactivity, and sometimes impulsivity) and oppositional defiant disorder (a frequent and persistent pattern of anger, irritability, arguing, or defiance) when he was younger. He was also dealing with the sudden, unexpected loss of his mother three months before school began. As a result, he made the decision to withdraw from school.
More than 250 individuals seeking employment attended the Second Annual Pee Dee Reentry Job Fair & Expo in Florence on September 27. The event was hosted by the United States Attorney’s Office; the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services; SC Works; SC Vocational Rehabilitation; SC Department of Social Services; and the US Probation Office. Three individuals were offered jobs on site.
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.
Eleven VR clients recently received forklift certification through a grant-funded class held at Central Technical College in Sumter. The two-day class included basic knowledge and safety and hands-on training. Dennis Bolen, from Central Carolina Technical College, was the instructor.
Justin Smith, Melanie Miller and Terry Manus, graduates of the first Heavy Equipment Operator (HEO) class at the Bryant Center, and who now work for Sloan Construction, recently spoke to the current HEO class. They shared their experiences and gave examples of how they have applied what they learned in class to their new jobs with Sloan.
VR’s Greenville Area Office Business Partnership Network luncheon was attended by the largest group of business and community leaders to date.
Bernard Jones, Business Development Specialist, presented examples of VR partnerships with more than 20 businesses in the Greenville area and how VR matches employer needs with qualified candidates. He emphasized the diversity of positions in which VR clients are employed, including sales, customer service, administrative, healthcare, manufacturing, warehouse and distribution, construction, truck driving, and many more.
Worksman Cycles recently celebrated their grand opening in Conway. The company, which manufactures bicycles and tricycles for industrial, commercial and recreational use, opened a factory in South Carolina because it had outgrown its New York production facility.
When Worksman received their first wheel building machine in 2016, VR’s Conway Area Office was invited to watch as the company manufactured their first wheel in South Carolina. Shortly thereafter, a wheel building tryout was scheduled for VR clients. That tryout led to three clients participating in on-the-job trainings, which resulted in the clients becoming full time employees for Worksman Cycles.
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.
Cecelia Maples was having trouble “walking the bus.”
“Walking the bus” refers to making a safety check of a school bus that includes checking all lights, ensuring all equipment is functioning properly, and examining the interior and exterior of the vehicle for damage. Drivers perform this check at least four times a day.
Cecelia has been a school bus driver for the Kershaw County School District for 14 years and loves her job. But she had been having difficulty walking for almost two years, and it was getting worse. Now it was affecting her job.
“I could barely walk and when I did, it was just agonizing pain,” she says. “If I can‘t walk my bus and I can‘t sit down and drive the bus, then I‘m going to be out of a job.”
Local businesses are being honored for employing people with disabilities, a practice that Orangeburg County Disabilities and Special Needs Board officials say is much appreciated.
The Greater Orangeburg Area Mayors’ Committee on Employment for People with Disabilities held its annual awards breakfast on March 22 at Cornerstone Church. The Orangeburg Rotary Morning Club hosted the ninth annual event.
Among those honored at the breakfast were Hi Cotton Greenhouses, Small Employer of the Year; Orangeburg County, Medium Employer of the Year, and Husqvarna, Large Employer of the Year.
Eugene Peele Jr., a North Middle/High School senior, was named Student of the Year.
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.”