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.
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.
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.
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.
When Eric Scriven was referred to the Walterboro VR Office by Colleton County Probation and Parole Services, he was at a turning point. He was in jail due to probation revocation and a court requirement to attend inpatient treatment for substance abuse. With a long criminal history and an even longer history of drug use, Sciven knew he needed help to overcome his additions and achieve his desire to obtain competitive 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.
Twelve clients recently completed a two-day OSHA 10 Safety Training class. OSHA 10 certification will help them as they explore job opportunities in manufacturing, service and maintenance, hospitality, food manufacturing and service, warehousing, and medical and dental fields.
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.
One by one, the participants of VR's four-week brain injury comprehensive evaluation hold up a small painting they have just completed and describe what it means to them. The painting is a chance for them to express something about their life with brain injury, what they have learned while at VR, and to reflect on their future.
Tony Ramey is a big Clemson fan, as you might guess from looking at his canvas. It is decorated in bold purple and orange lines, with four heart shapes arranged diagonally, almost like paws.
“The purple is like a purple heart,” he tells the group. “It's about bravery and what we have overcome.” Tony has a severe speech impediment, but no one has trouble understanding him. “The orange is the eye of the tiger. You have to have strength and determination.”
“That’s not what any of us expected him to say,” says Janet Spires, Nurse Supervisor. The art project is the final group activity for these clients. Together, they came up with a word which is sketched across the canvas boards. When the paintings are properly arranged, the word will be visible.
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.
“I feel that this program is a great for anyone wanting to return to work. The staff are excellent and professionals. They are knowledgeable and patient with the clients. This program is awesome and has an ‘A’ rating! I enjoyed my time here at Vocational Rehabilitation!”
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.”
Fourteen Deaf and hard of hearing clients attended a two-week pilot program at VR’s Evaluation Center in West Columbia in January. The clients engaged in team-building exercises, practiced interviewing skills, learned about Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), participated in assessments and vocational evaluations.
“We started them off on the ropes course at Wil Lou Gray because we wanted to see what they were capable of,” says Shonna Magee, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Coordinator. The group quickly bonded as they worked together and encouraged each other while climbing the catwalk, balancing on platforms and zip lining.
Brian Denny didn’t think he could go back to work after he sustained a high level spinal cord injury (C3-C4).
Unable to move his upper or lower body, Brian uses a power wheelchair that he manipulates by blowing into a straw-like device called a sip and puff. It takes patience and determination, something that Brian has in great supply.