Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Transitions: Supported Employment & High School


The Choice Group works together with students, their families, schools, the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, and Community Service Boards to provide services to support a successful and timely transition from school to work.

In this photo, Vocational Counselors with The Choice Group (from left to right: Laura, Becky, and Ian) are attending a local high school transition fair in Woodstock, VA to speak with students, parents, and teachers about our services, such as benefits counseling and job coaching with assessments and supported employment.  We enjoy sharing information with the families and recognize the importance of having access to information and resources early so students can begin preparing for bright futures!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Thank You to Portsmouth YMCA!



My region-wide staff meeting was scheduled for yesterday at the Portsmouth DARS. As we continue to grow (my region is as 20+ staff members!), it is getting more challenging to find a good location and time/day for everyone to meet, especially since I have people coming from Williamsburg, Eastern Shore, and Surry.

We showed up at 8:45am for the 9am meeting and learned that the Portsmouth DARS, where we were holding the meeting, had unfortunately experienced some flooding over the weekend with Hurricane Matthew and it was not safe to meet there.  I started brainstorming and thinking of other places in the community that could accommodate us so last-minute.  I called the YMCA on High Street and when I explained what happened, they immediately said we could use one of their classrooms and allowed us to use their facility free of charge!

This allowed us to hold the meeting as planned and for me to disseminate important information to help my counselors do their job.  It is very unlikely that we could have rescheduled for another day and had everyone join us.  Major kudos to the YMCA for helping us out!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Job Accommodations Help Agata Get the Job Done!


Agata lost her vision a few years ago which prevented her from working. She worked hard to become allocated to this change and once she was ready, I worked with her to conduct assessments to see what types of work she would enjoy. We conducted three assessments in food production and the last one went so well, Melinda at Sugar Fix in Ashland allowed Agata to come in and work as an intern! This experience is invaluable in assisting Agata with becoming acclimated to working again. Agata’s tasks include cutting cookies, greeting customers and assisting with folding boxes. Agata has a passion for baking and cooking. She comes from a Polish family and loves making Polish food at home. Due to Agata’s loss of vision, people may think that cooking may not be possible, but with the appropriate accommodations and modifications she can! I have truly enjoyed working with Agata and Sugar Fix Bakery. It is wonderful that Ms. Melinda has given us this opportunity. With the skills that Agata is learning she will surely be prepared to begin looking for work in a permanent position very soon!

Angela Volkening
Vocational Counselor

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Improving Transportation Through Collaboration


The Choice Group is involved not only with clients and employers but we work side by side with our communities in order to overcome obstacles we face when seeking to further disability employment opportunities.  One of our biggest obstacles is transportation.

A lot of our clients rely on public transportation or arranged transportation (CARE van), and in the Culpeper, Virginia, public transportation is less widely available than in cities. The Choice Group is working in collaboration with agencies, companies, and nonprofits that are all trying to improve transportation in the Culpeper County, Fauquier County/Warrenton, Madison County, Orange County, and Rappahannock County areas.  We are meeting monthly and working towards developing both ridership surveys and employer focused surveys and we have already shared these surveys with a variety of employers, chamber of commerce committees, and economic development offices throughout these areas.

We are hoping to gather enough information with these surveys to apply for a grant that will assist with funding both the expansion of current transportation options and creating new options all geared towards supporting people in getting to work. We are all very excited not only about what this means for these job applicants but also for these rural communities working together towards a common goal!

If you're a consumer and would like to participate in the survey, follow this link:


If you're an employer or a large area business and would like to participate in the survey, follow this link: