Community Partnerships

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.

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.

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.

Second chance forum in Greenville

Greenville Counselors Cierra Mack and Chris Mulley, and LaMonica Woodruff, Vocational Assessment and Career Specialist, participated in the 7th Annual “A Second Chance Forum,” at the West End Community Center on November 16. The event featured an expungement and pardon workshop and a job fair where a number of individuals were interviewed on-site.

Customized training presentation at CSAVR

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.

Hard work leads to success as welding instructor

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.

Interim commissioner drops in on drop-in

VR Interim Commissioner Felicia Johnson (center) recently attended the Oconee-PIckens Office’s first Veterans Appreciation Drop-In. Attendees of the event learned about services provided by VR and partner organizations, including SC Works, National Guard, Oconee Veterans Affairs, Pickens Veterans Affairs, Disabled American Veterans, Upstate Warriors, and Southern Wesleyan University.

More than 50 people attended the event, including local business Champion Aerospace. A client in the training center was excited to receive a job from Champion Aerospace through the HTI Staffing Company. Champion Aerospace’s HR manager, Dave Hocker, spoke very highly of the client, who has a silver WorkKeys certificate and has also completed the ten-week SC Manufacturing Certificate Program through Tri-County Technical College.

Also pictured are Gloria Holmes, Area Client Services Manager; Sheila Ford, Area Supervisor; Dan Alexander, Business Development Specialist; Vincent Bryant, Center Manager.

Boeing featured at Oconee Economic Alliance Business Forum

Sheila Ford, Oconee-Pickens Area Supervisor; Rep. Bill Sandifer; Tommy Preston, Director of National Strategy and Engagement and Government Operations at Boeing South Carolina; Senator Thomas Alexander; Dan Alexander, Business Development Specialist. Preston spoke recently at the Oconee Economic Alliance Business Forum, a monthly event where citizens and business leaders share information and discuss ways to work together to improve Oconee.

SCVRA Annual Meeting

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.

Reentry Job Fair & Expo provides opportunities and resources

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.

VR part of Lander University’s annual CommUniversity event

Representatives from over 80 non-profit organizations and businesses in the Greenwood area took part in Lander University’s annual CommUniversity event on Tuesday, August 23.

Lander has an estimated annual economic impact of $103.7 million in the region, and CommUniversity is a celebration of the relationship between university students and the community. In addition to enjoying samples from local restaurants, students also met community difference makers, and talked about leadership and volunteer opportunities.