Monday, March 27, 2017

TCG Vocational Counselors Can Help Recent College Gradutates Find Employment


Jonathan Ross has been a client of The Choice Group for a few years now. One of the first things I noticed was that Jonathan does a great job of setting goals.  He sets goals that are specific, measurable, and achievable. When I first met him, he was attending college and was looking for a part-time summer position. Jonathan found employment at two local grocery stores for two summers as a Bagger/Courtesy Clerk.

At first, Jonathan required intervention in learning certain tasks and building professional relationships. However, after effective support, he gained the ability to work independently. Jonathan is extremely punctual, and never missed a day of work. He built relationships with his co-workers and showed significant improvement with his interpersonal skills.

Once Jonathan graduated from College he began to work part time at a Digital Solutions company. The Choice Group provided job site training to ensure he was successful in his new role and able to attain a full-time position. The staff at his company provided a significant amount of support. They took extra time to train Jonathan using strategies that were implemented by The Choice Group to better match Jonathan's learning style.

His supervisors say that “Jonathan continues to show improvements in all areas, especially with communication and consistently in speed. He is an asset to the company and a valued team member.” Jonathan’s eagerness to work the hours necessary to complete the tasks at hand help with the team's overall performance. He is never late and doesn’t miss a day of work, even when he is not feeling well. This focus on accountability and punctuality has made the management team proud.  This position has been a great fit for Jonathan and he is looking forward to learning, growing, and taking on more responsibility.

Shadi Zadeh
Vocational Counselor 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

James' Personal Perseverance



James Mothershead is an intelligent guy.  He is an accomplished academic with both a bachelors and masters degree in Business Administration.  Not only an academic, James put his schooling to good use becoming a successful executive in the financial industry.  He worked in banking for almost 20 years.

When I met James he was looking for a new job.  He had just been diagnosed with Spinal Bifida, a condition that can make certain physical movements extremely painful.  Along with the Spinal Bifida, he was also dealing with clinical anxiety and depression.

Despite these challenges, James was determined to find employment. Early in the job search, he was having a difficult time locating an employer, everyone kept telling him he was over-qualified. In addition, his Spinal Bifida required him to find a position where he could accomplish his work sitting down or with very minimal movement.  He kept at it and found a job working as a cashier clerk at Walmart in Fredericksburg. In his role, James collects cash, dispenses change, checks out purchased merchandise, and provides customer service.

When James first started working at Walmart he had psychological and physical obstacles to overcome.  His anxiety made him feel unprepared for work. He also needed to utilize a stool when working the cash register to alleviate his back pain.  Working with Walmart, we were able to work out simple job accommodations for James, like a stool at his register. Feeling comforted by Walmart’s personalized care, he was able to overcome his anxiety.  He has been working in his current role for over four months and is now taking on more responsibility by training new employees.

James’ personal perseverance and the collaboration of Walmart with Choice Group has led to a positive working experience.  He is becoming more confident in his abilities by the day.  James is now looking forward to the future and excited to be working again.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Continuing Success Means Continuous Support


In the first few minutes of meeting Jeff, you quickly learn that he is a hardworking man. Over a year ago, he contacted his DBVI (Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired) Counselor and requested help in finding a job. He had recently left his job as a Manufacturer at a local business in Charlottesville and wanted a job as a Dishwasher. That’s when he met Kate Gariepy, a Vocational Counselor with The Choice Group. Together, Jeff and Kate completed several assessments in his community before beginning to look for a job.

After several months of applying for jobs, Jeff was hired at a new local restaurant as their daytime Dishwasher. Jeff quickly learned his job and became friends with the owner and several of his coworkers. He was highlighted on the restaurant’s Facebook page that eventually caught the attention of a local news station. Jeff says that since his appearance on Newsplex CBS19, many of his friends contacted him to comment on the news story. Jeff continued to work at the restaurant for the next 12 months before contacting his DBVI Counselor again for help.

This time, Jeff immediately requested to work with Kate Gariepy from The Choice Group. He called her the next day and explained that his hours were reduced at the restaurant and he was interested in finding a part-time job near his home. He told her that he wanted to work in the evenings and be able to walk to and from work. Once again, Jeff submitted applications to various businesses and was shocked when he was scheduled for seven interviews within a week. Jeff was offered a job at another local restaurant which he learned was a 5-minute walk from his home. Jeff accepted the position and started working at the end of September. While working with Kate, Jeff also interviewed at Wegmans and was hopeful to be offered a position. A month later, Jeff accepted an offer for part-time employment at Wegmans as a Dishwasher.

Currently, Jeff works three part-time jobs. He lives with his roommate and spends his free time hanging out with friends and going to Dave Matthews Band concerts. Although he is Visually Impaired, he does not let his disability affect his work. He says that he is grateful for The Choice Group and the help he has gotten over the past year from Kate.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Katrina Found Independence Through Employment!


Katrina Blow has been working as a Hostess at Applebee’s in Franklin, Virginia for almost two years now.  When first starting the job, she learned that hostessing required a fair amount of organizational skills like learning the layout of the tables and keeping track of the seating chart rotations.  That’s where Nancy came in, the Lead Vocational Counselor from The Choice Group in Hampton Roads. Together, they made small index card maps for each of the table rotations, especially important during the shift change of the servers.  After only a short time using the new system, Katrina had memorized the information and no longer need to use the cards.

After a year and a half of employment, Katrina’s General Manager asked her to train a new employee. She was excited about the opportunity. It motivated her to work diligently and pay specific attention to detail.  Katrina now trains the majority of new hosts and hostesses hired at Applebee’s. Her managers say she is one of their best employees. With her new level of responsibility and confidence, she went from working only two days weekly to five days a week!

Katrina enjoys working at Applebee’s and knows many of the regular customers. She feels that getting out of the house and taking on the responsibilities of her job has helped her become a happier person. It has also improved her confidence.

Katrina’s favorite part of the job is interacting and talking to her customers. Working as a hostess and developing new skills has helped her grow.  Her managers are all supportive of Katrina and it has been a terrific place for her to work.

Nancy assists Katrina through follow-along services and checks in with her and Applebee’s once monthly either by phone or in person.
"Every time I call her or see her, she is happy to talk to me. She is always smiling and cheerful, and a joy to be around,” says Nancy.