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Showing posts from December, 2019

Kortney brightens Northwestern Virginia!

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Our Staff Feature today is Kortney, who's been with us at The Choice Group for three years now. She has served our Northwest region, including Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, Staunton, Augusta County, Lexington, Rockbridge County, Shenandoah County, and Page County.


Adrienne, her manager at The Choice Group, says, "Kortney stepped up to help her team this past year and especially over the summer while her manager was out on leave. Although she is part-time, Kortney routinely went above and beyond to meet the needs of clients, taking on new referrals, volunteering for coverage, and even helping with administrative functions in order to ensure processes within the team were running smoothly."


Kortney has excellent time management and enjoys working with clients, which is evident in her dedication to her own clients and her willingness to help other counselors provide support to their clients on job sites.She is also, very importantly, excellent at managing the reporting an…

Cristian found his home in Home Goods

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Cristian and his vocational counselor, Mara, began working with each other earlier this year. Just a few short months after beginning their search for employment together, the two found Christian his current position at Home Goods in Arlington where he has been since May 2019. 

Mara describes Cristian as being very creative and friendly, with a positive outlook on life and an infectious sense of humor. In the beginning, Cristian showed an interest in art, graphic design and writing, so the two started with stores that had to do with those interests. 

When Mara first met Cristian, he had recently graduated from the Arlington Career Center. Cristian had completed some internships through school, but had never landed a competitive, independent position. Initially, he was very nervous about the whole idea surrounding employment. He was nervous about making employer calls, and going in to follow-up on applications really made him anxious. Although, every time they worked together Cristian…

PEERS story

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PEERS®:Increasing Social Skills



Some PEERS® graduates from the Charlottesville group who graduated in October 2019


PEERS® is an acronym for the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills and is designed to assist young adults, especially on the autism spectrum, who are having difficulty making and keeping friends. In addition to lessons focusing on making and keeping friends, this 16-week course also focuses on developing romantic relationships, managing conflict and rejection, as well as steps for handling bullying and other core social skills necessary for young adults to thrive in their communities.  While these critical lessons are presented to a group of young adults, a concurrent session is taught to a group of social coaches, often the young adults’ parents, in a separate room. At the conclusion of each lesson, the students are given homework assignments such as: plan a get-together, join a social group, or make a phone call to a classmate. Before completing ea…

Mike's Story: To Overcome

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Mike is not a person who talks openly about his disability or his experience overcoming mental illness to return to work.  And yet, given the opportunity, he shared openly, because he sees the value in telling his story.  Mike speaks out in hopes that others who have mental illness will find the courage to connect to services and supports and overcome their fears about returning to work. 

Mike’s story is a success story: one about courage, resilience and persistence.  Through Ticket to Work he found a full-time, professional position where he has been successfully working for 4 years. 

Mike’s life has been a struggle, but he talks about the challenges he has faced with levity and a healthy dose of humor.  “It’s a good thing there is no ‘three knock-out rule’ in life.  I’ve been knocked out way more than three times, but I keep getting back up.”  Mike doesn’t exaggerate about the traumatic circumstances of his youth or the impact mental illness has had on the course of his education and…

The Sweet Taste of Success

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Darius G. Darius C. Frozen treats Graduation



The Sweet Taste of Success
The development of Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) continues across the Commonwealth.This initiative, mandated by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), is for students in high school.The Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) has approved six different services in Pre-ETS, depending on the needs of the students.One of these is After-School Pathways.It typically takes place in high schools, with a curriculum that focuses on pre-employment and four of the five core areas outlined in the WIOA: Job exploration counselingWork readiness training to develop social and independent living skillsCounseling on post-secondary education and training opportunitiesInstruction in self-advocacy
Prince William DARS Counselors Leslie Diaz and Deana Holinka partnered with Christy Stegman and Tiffany Brown to develop a creative and fun opportunities for students this summer.The classes are typical…

Travis Behind the Scenes

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Travis began working with his vocational counselor, Nolan, in January 2019.Travis was looking for a behind-the-scenes job, working away from customers, with predictable and repetitive job duties that suit his skills.He has extreme anxiety and being around people he does not know is uncomfortable for him.After about a month of exploring possible positions with Nolan’s support, Travis was employed in his current position as a part-time dishwasher at Arby’s.
It is a perfect fit!Travis really thrives in his position because he is always early and doesn't miss a shift.He also doesn't leave until the job is done and is very thorough.Travis received the Champion of Professional Development 2019 Award at the Department for Aging & Rehabilitative Services (DARS) Champions of Disability Employment Awards Ceremony and is now able to complete his job duties independently.Nolan continues to check with him and his managers at least monthly, and is available for additional support if nee…

Christian Found His Voice

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Christian's counselor, Ali, has been with him since the 2018 school year in order to help him gain employment. She says that not only has he been a model employee, but he is now a leader within Project SEARCH and encourages others as well.

Christian works at a grocery store as an attendant, but the interview process wasn't easy. Since Christian has a speech impediment, he required assistance but never gave up, practicing every day. Not only that, but he also helped his other classmates practice for their interviews as well. He got called back for three different interviews and landed the job!

Christian is excelling at the store now, and is currently working up the nerve to ask to be cross-trained. His favorite part is assisting the customers directly. He runs the Facebook support group for his classmates and is an advocate for the Project SEARCH program, talking to anyone who will listen about what a great thing it was for him.

Ali says, "When Chris began project search h…