Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Kian & Niall



After volunteering at the American Library in Paris and earning their Bachelor’s degree in IT, Kian and Niall had a clear idea of what type of job they wanted. When they relocated to Charlottesville, VA, they began searching for jobs within the IT or data entry field.  A year later, both Kian and Niall were hired at the bookstore on the University of Virginia campus to sort and package textbook orders for incoming students. They quickly adapted to their work environment and impressed their coworkers with their stellar work ethic. Four weeks later when their contract ended, Kian and Niall did not give up and continued to search for their dream job.  They were introduced to a manager at the University of Virginia, who saw their attention to detail and offered the men positions as Temporary Data Technicians through UVA Temps. Within several months, Kian and Niall redacted years of research data, far exceeding the expectations of their coworkers and supervisors. They quickly transitioned into the next phase of the research study and began transcribing the data into computerized questionnaires. Both Kian and Niall comment that they are happy with their jobs and hope to be offered a full-time position at the university as Data Technicians.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Will Zentmyer, Rockstar!



This story will not contain the boring, overused words “amazing” or “awesome” to describe the magnanimous character that defines Will Zentmyer.  This young man was teamed up with an excellent support crew to explore the vocational world of Charlottesville, VA.  This was a very challenging case, and Will did not know what type of work he wanted to do.  There were several unknowns to this equation, but the one given was Will’s determination.  He was able to try several different jobs including warehouse, restaurant, garden nursery, and hotel work.  This went on for a while, and Will exhibited the greatest success working in a hotel as a housekeeping aide.

With this in mind, his Vocational Counselor visited almost every hotel in Charlottesville to advocate for Will’s extraordinary charisma and abilities.  Several hotels declined the opportunity for Will to work there, while others said they needed to think about it.  All of the hotels that needed to consider it decided not to move forward except for one.  Eric Pfister, the General Manager of the Residence Inn by the Downtown Mall initially asked Will’s Vocational Counselor for one week to ponder hiring Will.  After a week passed, he asked for just a little more time so that he could consult with his executives.  Will’s Vocational Counselor patiently waited before returning to talk to Eric for a third time.  This was a Friday.  He looked Will’s Vocational Counselor in the eye, paused for a bit, and then said, “Yeah, let’s give this a try.”  He asked that Will begin the following Monday.


Will hit the ground running on his first day.  This was a tricky case, but Will is a master of following a routine, and his stamina is second to none.  Will quickly established his routine with the assistance of his Vocational Counselor. A routine that started with him clocking in using a facial recognition time clock, donning his gloves, getting a list of dirty rooms and a keycard on a lanyard, going to the laundry room in the basement to get his large tub on wheels, attaching his clipboard to the metal frame of the tub using a homemade hook fabricated from a wire clothes hanger, and then going to each floor to strip the rooms on his list.  He also learned to make trash runs to the dumpster using a larger green tub on wheels and learned to check the pool and gym for dirty towels.  Other duties have included washing windows, vacuuming, replenishing linen closets, and separating laundry.  He has also been able to work several shifts without the presence of his Vocational Counselor, and his independence at work continues to improve.

It did not take long before Will became a superstar in the eyes of the hotel staff.  They all took him under their wing, were exceptionally supportive, and did not treat him any differently from any of the other employees.  The hotel is a wonderfully supportive site, and the staff is stupendous.  Will has quickly learned several Spanish phrases to communicate with some of the employees that are of Latin descent.  He fires his Vocational Counselor during each visit for not bringing him root beer.  When Will sees dirty linens in the hallway, he calls it “GOLD” and says, “I’m RICH,” as he collects it.  He has quickly learned that every other Monday is payday.  He refers to this day as Mad Money Monday and when asked what he does at work, Will will tell you, “I make mad money, YO!”   Occasionally, one hears Will say, “I work hard for my money.”  Truer words were never spoken.  Will is an absolute pleasure with a positive attitude and a willingness to do any task that he is given by his supervisors.  He is indeed a success, and Will has earned every bit of it.  This hotel shines just a bit brighter with his presence.




Thursday, July 12, 2018

Counselor Spotlight: Leah Burgess




Leah Burgess has been serving the Hampton Roads area as a Vocational Counselor for The Choice Group coming up on two years. Her specialty is with Pre-Employment Transition Services and she also works closely with Virginia Autism Project, a non-profit whose focus is to educate lawmakers and the public on issues that impact individuals with autism. Her love of the job comes from making a difference in her community and watching her clients succeed. One of her favorite experiences so far working with The Choice Group is the Collaborations Conference, held annually in Norfolk. She says, “The Choice Group works hard, but plays harder!” Thanks for all of your hardworking and dedication Leah!