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Update on Akia

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Kudos for Akia!!


Akia and Mary Chris, her vocational counselor, continue to stay in touch.  On a recent visit to the employer’s site, Mary Chris learned that Akia had won a "Kudos Award" at work, and received a mug to commemorate the award.  
Akia’s coworkers told Mary Chris about the award. They were happy for Akia, who was happy but shy about her significant accomplishment.  Akia continues to work as a dishwasher, and is currently in the process of training in other areas so she can work longer shifts and make a greater contribution to the team at Zoup! Congratulations to Akia for her award!!
To read Akita's original story, check out our 5/13/19 blog post, "Akia is Zealous for Zoup"



Quality Assurance with a Smile!

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Quality Assurance with a Smile
    Through diligence and hard work by both Scott and his then job coach Kortney Cotton, Scott was able to secure employment with the Food Lion in Elkton, VA in early September 2019 as a Quality Assurance Specialist!
    Scott has had continuous employment with Food Lion for four months now, usually working two, sometimes three, shifts a week.Through his dedication and hard work, Scott has become a valuable team member to Food Lion, and says that he enjoys his job. Scott has a million-dollar smile which has engaged him with both co-workers and customers, he always works hard, he is punctual and reliable, he takes great pride in his work, and he epitomizes what a great employee should be! 
    Scott’s parents, community, and Job Coaches are proud of his accomplishments!


Meet Matthew!

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Meet Matthew, a staff member of Aramark at James Madison University's dining hall, thanks to his hard work and the hard work of his counselor, Kortney. Kortney says Matthew's interest was primarily in customer service and working with the public. 

After assessing Matthew's skills and interests they began job development practicing interview skills and applying to jobs in Waynesboro and Harrisonburg. Due to logistical complexity with transportation and geography where he lived and attended day support, they brainstormed potential options and locations. This took a team effort with Matthew, his parents, day support, and the case manager to plan a successful placement.

Matthew has great communication skills and enjoys talking to the public. He is determined and motivated to reach personal goals. Matthew attended several interviews to practice professionalism and appropriate communication during the interview process. After constructive criticism and coaching Matthew demonstrate…

Kortney brightens Northwestern Virginia!

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Our Staff Feature today is Kortney, who's been with us at The Choice Group for three years now. She has served our Northwest region, including Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, Staunton, Augusta County, Lexington, Rockbridge County, Shenandoah County, and Page County.


Adrienne, her manager at The Choice Group, says, "Kortney stepped up to help her team this past year and especially over the summer while her manager was out on leave. Although she is part-time, Kortney routinely went above and beyond to meet the needs of clients, taking on new referrals, volunteering for coverage, and even helping with administrative functions in order to ensure processes within the team were running smoothly."


Kortney has excellent time management and enjoys working with clients, which is evident in her dedication to her own clients and her willingness to help other counselors provide support to their clients on job sites.She is also, very importantly, excellent at managing the reporting an…

Cristian found his home in Home Goods

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Cristian and his vocational counselor, Mara, began working with each other earlier this year. Just a few short months after beginning their search for employment together, the two found Christian his current position at Home Goods in Arlington where he has been since May 2019. 

Mara describes Cristian as being very creative and friendly, with a positive outlook on life and an infectious sense of humor. In the beginning, Cristian showed an interest in art, graphic design and writing, so the two started with stores that had to do with those interests. 

When Mara first met Cristian, he had recently graduated from the Arlington Career Center. Cristian had completed some internships through school, but had never landed a competitive, independent position. Initially, he was very nervous about the whole idea surrounding employment. He was nervous about making employer calls, and going in to follow-up on applications really made him anxious. Although, every time they worked together Cristian…

PEERS story

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PEERS®:Increasing Social Skills



Some PEERS® graduates from the Charlottesville group who graduated in October 2019


PEERS® is an acronym for the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills and is designed to assist young adults, especially on the autism spectrum, who are having difficulty making and keeping friends. In addition to lessons focusing on making and keeping friends, this 16-week course also focuses on developing romantic relationships, managing conflict and rejection, as well as steps for handling bullying and other core social skills necessary for young adults to thrive in their communities.  While these critical lessons are presented to a group of young adults, a concurrent session is taught to a group of social coaches, often the young adults’ parents, in a separate room. At the conclusion of each lesson, the students are given homework assignments such as: plan a get-together, join a social group, or make a phone call to a classmate. Before completing ea…

Mike's Story: To Overcome

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Mike is not a person who talks openly about his disability or his experience overcoming mental illness to return to work.  And yet, given the opportunity, he shared openly, because he sees the value in telling his story.  Mike speaks out in hopes that others who have mental illness will find the courage to connect to services and supports and overcome their fears about returning to work. 

Mike’s story is a success story: one about courage, resilience and persistence.  Through Ticket to Work he found a full-time, professional position where he has been successfully working for 4 years. 

Mike’s life has been a struggle, but he talks about the challenges he has faced with levity and a healthy dose of humor.  “It’s a good thing there is no ‘three knock-out rule’ in life.  I’ve been knocked out way more than three times, but I keep getting back up.”  Mike doesn’t exaggerate about the traumatic circumstances of his youth or the impact mental illness has had on the course of his education and…