Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Joey Found Independence through his Skilled Trade Career

Joseph “Joey” Hughes is a young man who recently graduated from the Manufacturing Program at the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center in Fishersville, Virginia.  The staff at WWRC set Joey up with a job interview at an innovative company that constructs metal office furniture in Verona.  Throughout the years, this company has also specialized in making aluminum telephone booths, step ladders, and racks and they currently research, develop and produce heat exchangers.  After his interview, he got the job and set forth on his new career. Anxious at first, with some encouragement, guidance, and support Joey has come a long way! 

To Joey, his new job was as exciting as it was demanding; his duties include assembling, disassembling, and testing the heat exchangers which is skilled work.  One needs to have a keen eye for detail and the ability to use power tools on a daily basis.  David, his counselor at The Choice Group worked with him for a full month at the job.  Working through steps of what to do when he encountered a problem, helping him understand his duties and the employer's expectations, the importance of patience in learning new tasks.  Joey stands tall and takes pride in what he does at Provides.  He currently works full-time with benefits and great pay!

“I love it here,” Joey said about his job. "I want to work for [my company] until I am 60 or 70 years old!”

Joey’s family lives over an hour away, so he decided to move to Verona where he could be closer to work.  This was a gigantic step for him.  With some assistance from David, he was able to find a one bedroom apartment without a cosigner and all utilities included that is less than ten minutes from work.  In addition to training on the job, David also worked with Joey in Community Support Services where he assisted him in opening a bank account (checking and savings), budgeting, learning how to track his bills and pay his rent, finding a church of his choice in the area, teaching him about proper nutrition, reading labels, and paying attention to expiration dates.  David also helped him learn to cook simple meals and says they have done steak, pasta with meat sauce, and ground beef tacos so far!

 Joey owns a car and drives to work daily.  He said that the work is hard but rewarding at the same time and that all his coworkers have all been fantastic.  They have provided a nurturing and supportive environment for Joey and have given full access to the job coaching staff to be able to assist Joey in any way.  Joey is currently working independently and no longer requires follow along services.  His dedication, commitment, and charisma will take him far at work and in life.  Hats off to this young man’s success!

Working for a Federal Contractor

The Choice Group is an Employment Network (EN) under the Ticket to Work Program (TTW)!

Our Employment Network (EN) status gives Ticket to Work holders a great opportunity to take advantage of our supported employment services and benefits counseling. Our recent partnership with Getting Hired gives Ticket holders and clients access to current and up-to-date job postings for organizations nationwide, including many Fortune 500 companies, ready to hire job seekers with disabilities!

Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) program recently released the new resource, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act: Working for a Federal Contractor. Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that federal contractors and subcontractors – companies doing business with the federal government – take affirmative action to recruit, hire, employ, promote, and retain qualified people with disabilities.

This new resource answers frequently asked questions about Section 503, including: 

  • What is Section 503?
  • What does self-identification mean?
  • What does Section 503 mean to Social Security disability beneficiaries?
  • Learn more about Section 503 and how it may help you on the path to financial independence.

About Ticket to Work

Social Security’s Ticket to Work program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work. The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.

Find more resources at

Friday, September 8, 2017

Build Confidence Working with a Vocational Counselor

   When Erin Hickman started working with The Choice Group back in early 2014, she was prepared to start working.  Already knowing what type of job she wanted, Erin came in with a typed list of places where she would potentially like to work.  One of her choices was at her local grocery store, where she has now worked for over 3 years!

    At first, Erin had misgivings about working the cash register.  She didn’t feel confident handling other people’s money.  But after working with her job coach and training on register operations and procedures, it quickly became one of her strong suits.  She received recognition from management for remembering a change in procedure with checks - not an easy task - as well as an Excellent Customer Service award after helping an upset customer.  Erin now talks to customers with ease and when the grocery store upgraded to a new check out system, with Ian’s help, she was one of the first employees to learn it!

    Erin loves playing arcade games in her free time, especially Basketball Shoot Out, and enjoys going to the movies.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Success Story!

Kat has been working with her client for the last two months.  Her client knew that her vocational goal was to be a full-time dishwasher, so when they started working together, her clear direction led them to find a position that was perfect!  Having previous work experience, she found a great fit as a full-time dishwasher for a corporate dining service.  During the interview process Kat helped her client on how to answer interview questions appropriately, interpreting verbal instruction, and after her client was hired for the job, negotiated her start date and the times she would be working because of transportation issues.  Kat worked with the employer to negotiate a special schedule to accommodate transportation needs.  In less than a month, Kat’s client was already training others! Her fantastic sense of humor and award winning smile has made it easy to get along well with her other co-workers.  Kat continues to check in with her client and her supervisor and is very proud that her client has so quickly started becoming a leader on her team!