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Showing posts from 2020

Cameron's Heavy Lifting

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Cameron and his counselor, Nancy, set out to find him employment with a goal of working in a hardware store. In May of 2016, he became employed at the Lowe's in Suffolk through the Supported Employment program. 

Cameron is hardworking, reliable, loves manual labor, and cares about other people.

The challenge came because of his specificity about working in a hardware store. There are a very limited number of hardware stores or stores in general in his area of Hampton Roads. His mom drives him to work so he and Nancy had to look in Suffolk, Franklin and Windsor for positions. These are relatively rural areas with limited numbers of stores, especially hardware stores.

However, he found a job! Cameron is a Loader but often helps the team in other departments by collecting carts, helping customers load their cars, stocking, restocking, filling the water tank for employees, assisting customers, helping with any heavy lifting, and helping the team solve problems.

To help him stay on task, N…

Vocational Counselor Position

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Vocational Counselors Needed in Various Parts of the State!

Are you searching for a job that’s not “just a job?” Are you looking to break free from a traditional 9-5 work week? Are you passionate about helping people succeed in becoming independent? We help people with disabilities live up to their abilities! 

We are looking for dedicated people to join our team in our mission to help our clients find meaningful employment. This position will primarily serve clients in the community in the Farmville, Harrisonburg, Winchester, Chesapeake, Williamsburg, Fredericksburg, Richmond, Roanoke, Manassas, Leesburg or Fairfax areas. Our programs provide support for individuals with varying abilities in finding and maintaining successful, integrated employment in the community. 

Compensation is excellent and based on experience, education, and additional applicable skills Requirements: This position requires a dedicated person to be a self-starter with great time management skills. This is a communi…

Alyssa's Caffeinated Adventure!

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Heather started working with Alyssa in May of 2019 when Alyssa participated in the DARS (Department for Aging & Rehabilitative Services) Pre-ETS program. Pre-ETS stands for Pre-Employment Transition Services.  Heather and Alyssa continued to work together under DARS through situational assessments to try out various tasks. Two things were clear: Alyssa loves to help people and to follow a routine. In October 2019, she was hired at Stand Up Coffee!

During assessments, it was determined that Alyssa does well with a rountine and likes to be around people or helping people. It was determined that Alyssa's preferences were to work on a sales floor or in a production type of position. Together, Alyssa and Heather made a list of employers in the town of Orange where Alyssa could get transportation.

One day, while Heather was contacting employers to ask about open positions and discuss Alyssa's abilities, she called Stand Up Coffee. About 30 minutes prior to the phone call, th…

Diane's Home Health Journey

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Meet Diane, a young woman with dreams of helping others. Diana and her counselor, Justin, sought out employment at Home Recovery Home-Aid, an at-home health service provider, and Diane has worked there for the last five months.

First, Diane and Justin worked together to identify what age group she enjoyed working with the most. They then visited several different health clinics/centers that were hiring so that she could get a better understanding about how much work and support went into taking care of people. Diane and Justin also worked together to ensure that the job was a great match with her personality, because she is very shy. They both sat down and met with people at each center and together led different conversations so that she could learn ways to communicate with others.

Her determination to do good and find meaningful employment played a huge role in her position. Diane is really dedicated to helping others and also providing meaningful long term care to others just lik…

Chris' Soaring Success

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Meet Christopher! Full-time employee at Southern Stainless in Waynesboro, pilot (yes, PILOT!), and accomplished performing musician.  In addition to flying, Chris has also designed his own airplanes. 


For a couple of years now Chris has been at Southern Stainless, a very successful fabrication and manufacturing company.  They did not hesitate to hire Chris and have been incredibly supportive the entire time he has been there.  Chris' vocational counselor, Davide, spoke to several associates there on a regular basis when Chris first started to check in and offer additional support.  They always took the time to update Davide and express how pleased they were with having Chris there.  They were professional, genuine, and always had remarkable phone etiquette.  

Chris’ main duty there is to clean the manufactured metal parts and finished pieces.  This is essentially the last step before they are shipped off to their customers.  Chris is meticulous and takes great pride in making the fi…

Tim Works Hard at the Hardware Store

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Tim and his counselor, Nancy, have worked together since 2014 to help Tim find employment in the Hampton Roads area. Currently, Tim works at Lowe's and is coming up on his two-year mark!

Tim is an extremely hard worker and has a great work ethic. He is friendly and personable and gets along well with others. However, he did face some obstacles when looking for a job. He had to find a job in Franklin since he does not drive and was interested in any kind of customer service or food service position. He had a job at a restaurant as a lobby attendant but got laid off due to lack of hours.

Limited work experience was another obstacle. Nancy initially helped him get a courtesy clerk position at a supermarket in July 2014. He was there until the store closed in April 2018. She then almost immediately helped Tim get another job at the local peanut plant, but due to his disability, the job was too strenuous. 

The Choice Group then assisted him in getting a Loader position at Lowe's. Tim …

Latrell Excels!

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Meet Latrell, a dedicated employee at a general merchandise store in Franklin, Virginia. His counselor, Nancy, has worked with him since April of 2015 to land his current job. Now, Latrell has been with his employer for 5 years this coming May.

It wasn't easy to begin with, though. Latrell wanted a stocking type position so they targeted stores in the Franklin area that had stocking positions. There are few employers in Franklin that hire for stocking and at the time, Latrell did not drive so we were limited to Franklin only. He also had no prior work experience.

However, he got the job in the end! His duties include unloading the truck, stocking items on the store shelves, and backroom sorting. Latrell has earned several raises since he first started working there. He has also earned several bonuses.

Latrell is in follow along services, so Nancy keeps in monthly contact with him and his managers. He has become a more confident, sociable and independent person. 

Outside of work, Latre…

Jessica's Next Move

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Jessica has been working in her position as a Coordinator at a state agency for more than a year and a half and is at the start of a career she hopes will make a significant impact on the world.  The Choice Group has had the honor of working alongside of Jessica as she has pursued, achieved, and advanced her career. Jessica has said since the beginning that she was committed to working in a field where she could help other people.  

This year Jessica spoke at the Next Move’s Capable event as a keynote speaker and described the barriers she faced to complete high school, college and even graduate school.  She admits readily that she needed accommodations, and has since advocated for others to complete their educational dreams. Throughout her education, she demonstrated determination and the tenacity to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.  And Jessica didn’t stop there because she is putting her degree to work in a meaningf…

A “Superfly” Employee

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When you walk into the Kroger in Martinsville, Virginia, there is a Courtesy Clerk who stands out in the front end.  He says hello to each customer coming and going, he is often dancing, and he always has a smile on his face.  Danny has been working for Kroger for almost 3 years and the love for his position is evident.  He puts his natural customer service skills to use during every shift while bagging groceries, retrieving merchandise, and pulling carts.  
Before working at Kroger, his work history consisted of sheltered employment working below minimum wage.  Danny worked with his Vocational Counselor, Teresa Anderson, to try different jobs to see what he felt would be a good fit.  He then worked with his job coach to complete applications and interviews, which led to being hired by this employer.  Teresa helped him learn bagging techniques and handling the multi-tasking his position involves.  Danny also learned about parking lot safety, looking both ways as he crosses the street a…

No Wasted Energy for Daniel G.

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No Wasted Energy

Sometimes arriving at a successful outcome includes some experiences that appear unsuccessful.  The truth is that all experiences are learning opportunities and better prepare us for the experience that will be successful.  
Daniel’s first job working with his vocational counselor was at a fast-food restaurant.  The schedule included some afternoon shifts and the pace was fast, too fast.  Daniel experienced stress and migraines, understanding that he was not meeting the employer’s needs.  He and his vocational counselor, together with his counselor at the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, decided to look for another position.
They found one at a local nursing facility working as a dietary aide.  Daniel started in September 2018 with consistent morning shifts, and has since transitioned to any shift.  He is one of the most valuable members of their team.  He feels supported and appreciated, and his associates genuinely care for him.  Partly as a result of …

Update on Akia

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Kudos for Akia!!


Akia and Mary Chris, her vocational counselor, continue to stay in touch.  On a recent visit to the employer’s site, Mary Chris learned that Akia had won a "Kudos Award" at work, and received a mug to commemorate the award.  
Akia’s coworkers told Mary Chris about the award. They were happy for Akia, who was happy but shy about her significant accomplishment.  Akia continues to work as a dishwasher, and is currently in the process of training in other areas so she can work longer shifts and make a greater contribution to the team at Zoup! Congratulations to Akia for her award!!
To read Akita's original story, check out our 5/13/19 blog post, "Akia is Zealous for Zoup"



Quality Assurance with a Smile!

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Quality Assurance with a Smile
    Through diligence and hard work by both Scott and his then job coach Kortney Cotton, Scott was able to secure employment with the Food Lion in Elkton, VA in early September 2019 as a Quality Assurance Specialist!
    Scott has had continuous employment with Food Lion for four months now, usually working two, sometimes three, shifts a week.Through his dedication and hard work, Scott has become a valuable team member to Food Lion, and says that he enjoys his job. Scott has a million-dollar smile which has engaged him with both co-workers and customers, he always works hard, he is punctual and reliable, he takes great pride in his work, and he epitomizes what a great employee should be! 
    Scott’s parents, community, and Job Coaches are proud of his accomplishments!


Meet Matthew!

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Meet Matthew, a staff member of Aramark at James Madison University's dining hall, thanks to his hard work and the hard work of his counselor, Kortney. Kortney says Matthew's interest was primarily in customer service and working with the public. 

After assessing Matthew's skills and interests they began job development practicing interview skills and applying to jobs in Waynesboro and Harrisonburg. Due to logistical complexity with transportation and geography where he lived and attended day support, they brainstormed potential options and locations. This took a team effort with Matthew, his parents, day support, and the case manager to plan a successful placement.

Matthew has great communication skills and enjoys talking to the public. He is determined and motivated to reach personal goals. Matthew attended several interviews to practice professionalism and appropriate communication during the interview process. After constructive criticism and coaching Matthew demonstrate…