Monday, January 14, 2019

Samantha, the girl on fire with a passion to do her best!


Rachel McGregor began working with Samantha Hasty in the summer of 2017 where she found work at a local navy base. Samantha started working with her current employer in the summer of last year. Samantha’s job tasks include wiping down tables, working in the dish room, interacting with guests, putting away clean dishes away, and maintain the dining area on the naval base. Samantha has made some major achievements working in her position including receiving a customer service award from her employer as well as gaining independence and confidence. 

Samantha has such a outgoing and friendly personality. Working in an atmosphere like the naval base allows her to communicate with many different people in a day. She is able to socialize and enjoy herself while working hard. Samantha began participating in Project SEARCH where she completed 3 internships in 3 different areas and discovered that she had a passion for food services. Samantha also took a cooking class to continue to learn new skills. When we saw that there was a position open on the navy base in food service, Samantha knew she wanted to apply. Samantha is great with communication, though she can get nervous when she is put on the spot. Rachel worked with Samantha on practicing interview questions and prepared her for the interview and what it might be like. She was able to find an employer who was very supportive and comfortable which made Samantha more relaxed while interviewing. On top of doing such an amazing job at the naval base she also keeps track of her own schedule and has awesome time management skills.

Rachel continues to support Samantha by checking in while she is working and touching base with the manager to make sure she is continuing to do a good job. She also helped Samantah get involved with outside resources such as Therapeutic Recreation, Special Olympics Bowling and Paratransit. 

Samantha is a big fan of the San Fransico 49ers. She loves to dance and hang out with friends and on Friday nights she enjoys bowling with them. Samantha is close with her family and loves to swim. One of her favorite things to do is spend time at her grandmothers senior living home and help run their bingo nights. Samantha's favorite song is "Girl on Fire" by Alicia Keys and she most definitely is a girl on fire doing amazing in her position at the naval base! 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Friendship at the shipyard: Robert and Tyzeek's story



Robert and Tyzeek, friends and coworkers! 

Rachel McGregor began working with Tyzeek Gadson beginning in the summer of 2015 and Robert Sanchez the summer of 2011. Tyzeek has currently been employed loading navy ships with supplies going on 2 years and Robert for 5 years. Both clients began their employment search with an interest in materials management and completed internships in materials management while in Project SEARCH. Both Tyzeek and Robert excel in different aspects of their jobs because their strengths differ. Tyzeek is very strong physically and is able to lift a lot of heavy material, whereas Robert has good attention to detail and his visual and auditory skills help him to understand the process of loading the ships efficiently. Although, both young men work together to get the job done and support each other every step of the way. 

Both Tyzeek and Robert overcame obstacles during their time at Project SEARCH that helped them find their place in the workforce. Both clients worked on social skills as well as learning and understanding different methods of transportation around the community. Tyzeek and Robert have become close working together and now even carpool to and from work! 

Tyzeek and Robert both have excelled in their positions and learned so much from working in this field. Robert has received his 5 year certificate which is a great accomplishment for him. Tyzeek has excelled by becoming more independent at work and home. Both have learned to manage a variable schedule using a hotline to call in every night. Overall both Tyzeek and Robert have made great strides since starting work at the naval shipyard. When Robert started at Project SEARCH in 2011, he was very shy and reserved and had not know how to show initiative. Since completing Project SEARCH and working for 5 years on the navy base, Robert has been showing great communication skills and his manager has said that he demonstrates strong leadership skills when working with his coworkers. Robert is well respected by his coworkers and is considered a leader smong his team members. Since starting with Project SEARCH is 2015, Tyzeek has learned to stay focused during conversations, take initiative when learning new tasks, and is more aware of his surroundings. Tyzeek is very welcoming and really enjoys helping new employees become familiar with the unusual work environment.

While Robert and Tyzeek met working together on the navy base they quickly became good friends and share many of the same interests. Both Robert and Tyzeek participate in the Special Olympics bowling league where they enjoy Friday nights hanging out with friends. They both love football, though Tyzeek is a Redskins fan and Robert is a Viking fan. They both have extremely supportive families who have forged a friendship and now take turns managing the varied schedule by taking the young men to and from work. Working together and finding employment through The Choice Group has created a lifelong friendship for these young men and has helped them overcome many obstacles. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Chanell Shines At A Local Elementary School


Vocational Counselor Rachel McGregor began working with Chanell Teasley in the Summer of 2017. Beginning in September of 2018, Rachel helped her find work at a local elementary school. "Chanell has always had an interest in food services as well as in childcare. We decided to look at a position within the schools where she could blend both interests” McGregor said. Chanell is very friendly and loves people. She uses her fun personality to interact with the students and also has great attention to detail and is able to learn tasks quickly. Chanell has grown with her independence and confidence as she has been working at the school. Her tasks include but are not limited to prepping the food, serving the students, cleaning the kitchen and washing the dishes as needed. Before finding the job at the local elementary school, Chanell worked on improving her stamina while participating in Project SEARCH. She was able to build up to be able to work for several hours on her feet. Chanell also focused on her interviewing skills after she graduated from Project SEARCH. She attended a few other interviews where she was able to practice her skills and work on how to answer the tougher questions. Initially, Chanell was very nervous about starting a job in a new environment she was not familiar with. She quickly adjusted with the support of her co-workers who have embraced her as part of the team. Chanell loves her work and has grown to be a hard worker who works as part of the team.
Rachel checks in with her and her manager as needed but Chanell is very independent on the job and is doing great! In her free time Chanell loves to dance and make people laugh. She also enjoys going bowling on the weekends with her friends and spending time with her family and friends.

Counselor Feature: Zee Truitt


Zee has been working for The Choice Group serving the Hampton Roads area for one month and is fitting in perfectly. Zee enjoyed working with her first client because she was able to work with them on her own and was so grateful to get to work with them so quickly. She was able to work with her client one on one and found the experience extremely rewarding. Zee is so grateful to have been given the opportunity to work at The Choice Group and feels like she is truly fulfilling her purpose in life. Welcome to the family, Zee, we are so glad to have you on our team! 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Claire Adams- Counselor Feature


Claire Adams has been with The Choice Group for over a year now and works the South Hampton Roads area, mainly the Oceanfront and Norfolk.

Her most memorable experience with The Choice Group was the day that one of her most challenging clients transitioned from struggling to maintain jobs to “one of the most treasured employees who brings joy to the entire kitchen”. This client found a job, with the help of Claire, at Chick-fil-A where his manager raves about him and it has been one of her proudest and most memorable experiences. 

Claire says she has learned so much about the value of persistence and patience, the power of advocating for client needs, the importance of educating client co-workers and developing a strong relationship with client managers, and the impact of team work.

Claire loves getting to know her clients and watching them achieve their goals which she finds incredibly rewarding. She says that she loves people and that this job has opened the door for her to connect with and help people in a way she had not previously experienced. She has noticed an incredible amount of personal growth since she has been working with The Choice Group and that is very grateful to be a member of the team! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Client Success Story- William Dwight "Finding work at The Founders Inn"



William was referred to The Choice Group by Vocational Counselor, Susan Bohache, with the Virginia Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services in April 2016 and was paired with Job Coach Ali Dodd and they soon found a position available at a local IHop in Chesapeake in July of 2016 but had to resign upon his families relocation. He rejoined in hopes of finding another job in Virginia Beach after his family relocated in April of 2017. William has been working with his vocational counselor Heidi beginning again in August of 2017 when he restarted services through DARS and began working with The Choice Group again. Assessments were tried initially in a grocery store, bagging groceries, collecting carts and cleaning bathrooms as well as working as a dishwasher at a local restaurant. His job coach conducted research in hopes of finding William a position somewhere where he would feel most comfortable and thrive. A position at the Founders Inn, for a Steward, came available and William applied for the job online. After an interview with the Sous Chef, Joshua Kelly, Head Chef, Ian Robbins and a panel interview with four managers from different departments, William was hired for the position.

The Founders Inn is a much larger operation than IHop and has a function for hundreds of patrons at a time. Williams duties included washing dishes, removing trash and cleaning the kitchen. After a period of adjustment, and working with a wonderful and supportive staff, William is now called “a star” by the chefs who manage the huge kitchen. William has recently begun training new Stewards and loves his job, often working 40 hours per week.

William has benefited from his supportive parents, as well as the helpful staff and management at The Founders Inn and is moving toward independence. William enjoys walking to work when the weather permits or uses a ride-sharing service when it does not. In the last two years, William has only missed one day of work and successfully manages all of his own bills and expenses.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Counselor Feature: Rachel Brand




Rachel Brand has been with The Choice Group for one year. Rachel serves the Peninsula of Hampton Roads in Williamsburg and Yorktown. She works closely with Project SEARCH at Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center (SWRMC).

One of Rachel’s most memorable experiences working with The Choice Group was being able to work with High School Pre-ETS clients this summer facilitating Work Based Learning Experiences. Her favorite aspect was getting to work at several farms and animal shelters. Many of her clients opened up and became much more comfortable being around animals and being outdoors. Rachel enjoyed this because she also loves being around animals and being outdoors. 

Rachel loves working with The Choice Group because “no one day is ever the same”. She feels blessed to have had so many diverse experiences in her first year being a part of the team.

We are thrilled to have Rachel with us and look forward to many more years with her!