Showing posts from May, 2016

Way To Go, Buddy!

Warren “Buddy” Blatz started with The Choice Group over three years ago as a Vocational Counselor in the Charlottesville and Culpeper areas. Buddy has “mad” skills on the golf green and has supported TCG in many VRA sponsored events, playing golf with collaborative agencies across the state. Buddy began as both a Vocational Counselor and as a Work Incentive Specialist and has since supported hundreds of clients in determining their needs regarding benefits from the SSA and gaining employment.

This month, Buddy has obtained the promotion to a Lead Vocational Counselor and he will continue to grow in his leadership and training of staff within the Central Region. Buddy is irreplaceable and we are appreciative of his wit and humor, his laidback attitude, and his adept problem-solving skills. Way to go Buddy!

Perseverance Pays Off!

When Jeff and I started working together in October of 2015, he really wanted a job.  He had work experience but was not happy at his previous place of employment.  While we were looking for a job together, he was volunteering at the non-profit organization, Hanover Humane Society.  He’s an animal lover and wanted to work for them, however, at the time, there was not an open position that would be a good fit for Jeff, so he kept volunteering and working with me to apply for other positions. 
Jeff is very personable and well spoken— interviewing is one of his strengths!  As we looked for employment, nothing seemed to fit as well as his love of working with animals.  Finally, after keeping a close eye out for an opening, the Hanover Humane Society needed to hire a person and brought him on the team!
Some of Jeff’s duties include maintenance like cleaning the kennels, sweeping, and using the power washer, which we both had to figure out together!  He occasionally walks and grooms the dogs …

Vocational Counselors Wanted!

Do you have an interest, education or experience in human services? We have needs in many localities in Virginia. Put your skills and passions to work helping individuals with disabilities and Veterans achieve independence and employment. This is not an office job. Exact hours will depend on your clients' needs. You must have a valid driver’s license, dependable transportation, ability to plan your day and then shift gears, if necessary, to accommodate last-minute developments.

Job Description:

Provide supported employment, life skills training, and related services to persons with disabilities across Virginia. At least a Bachelor degree in a related field and related experience is required. Signing skills are a plus. This position requires a self-starter with computer and time management skills, who can work a flexible schedule. Good driving record and documentation of adequate insurance required. Compensation based on education, skills, and experience. Part Time and Full Time em…

Employment Status for People with Disabilities

An article from on the current status of our nation's employment of people with disabilities.  We still have a long way to go to improve these numbers and it's The Choice Group's mission to achieve that, working with one client at a time!

For Those With Special Needs, Jobs Picture Stable
By Shaun Heasley

The employment situation for Americans with disabilities is steady even as overall hiring across the nation has slowed, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The unemployment rate for those with disabilities dipped just slightly to 10.7 percent last month, the agency said Friday in its monthly employment report. That’s down from 10.8 percent the month prior.

Figures show that more people with disabilities are on the job and the participation rate for this population is up by more than 1 percent over the same time last year.

At the same time, the economy as a whole added just 160,000 jobs in April and the unemployment rate for the gener…

A Step in the Right Direction to His Dream Career!

Ian Comtois recently graduated from WWRC, the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center with certifications in the CompTiA + and Netplus programs.  He completed both certifications in the time it usually takes a student to complete just one! His dream is to become a hardware technician, but since he had no previous work experience, we decided to find an entry level position that would help him eventually reach his goal! So we set out looking for jobs where he could use his love and knowledge of computers.

Ian was able to find employment in a similar field, building his resume and gaining real world experience using his skills to benefit customers at Office Depot.  He is now in his third week of work there, training first at the register, and currently working as a Tech Consultant.  He may even get to do some computer repairs if there are extra hours available in the repair department. He is using this opportunity to learn about his strengths and abilities in a real-world work enviro…

The Benefits of Inclusive Hiring for Employers

Part of our mission at The Choice Group is to make employers aware of the benefits of hiring one of our clients.  Yes, there are government incentives, etc, but truly there is so much benefit to hiring inclusively in the workplace.  Don't just listen to us, listen to this man a business owner and advocate who has lived the experience himself!

Photo from article, credit: Bobby Fisher

How This Franchisee Is Giving Hope— And Jobs— to the Community
By: Jason Daley

Mark Wafer could fake his way through interviews. “My speech is good,” he says, so the interviewer didn’t realize that Wafer has about 85 percent hearing loss. “But once the boss found out I was deaf, I was fired. Usually quickly.” After losing many jobs this way, he finally landed a solid one, built confidence and 21 years ago bought his first coffee-and-doughnut Tim Hortons unit. Soon he hired a man with Down syndrome, who was excellent: hardworking, happy, friendly and loyal. Disabled individuals, Wafer realized, make great…

Pauline and the Great Valu Family!

Pauline Jackson has been a Deli Clerk at Great Valu in Wakefield, VA for three years now this June. When I first met Pauline, she was not confidence in herself even though she was clearly super capable. I was new at TCG and she was one of my first job placements. At first, when she mastered job duties at the job, she was nervous of me fading.  But, once she realized she was okay on her own, things steadily got better and better. She's now completely independent. I continue to monitor her progress, through monthly Follow Along services and always check with her manager to ensure stability.
Pauline assists customers with deli orders and also does some cooking and food prep.  Sheis one of the sweetest people I know. She always has a smile on her face, and she has a great sense of humor! Her direct manager always says every single month what a joy and pleasure it is to work with her.
Great Valu is a family business/grocery store run by Tom and Wendy Garrett, and David and Andrew are man…

Practice Makes Perfect! Another Choice Group Success Story!

When I first started working with my client, H.A., it became clear that one of our challenges in finding a job would be controlling his emotions and building self-confidence.  During a meeting with him at his first assessment with The Choice Group, he expressed to me how difficult it was for him to decide to look for a job.  However, he felt confident enough to move forward and we decided that perhaps a stocking job would be a good fit for him.  At first, he was hesitant, not being sure if he could find where things went or if he could become familiar enough with a new store.  I assured him that becoming familiar with a new store would take time, as it would with anyone, and that he should have confidence in himself.
     When first explaining the process of applying for jobs to H.A., by meeting and interviewing with managers at different job locations, he began severely crying at the prospect of others’ reaction towards him, his fear of change and how frightened he was to talk …

Job Opening for Ticket to Work & Work Incentives Specialist

Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Specialist -Various locations within Virginia

Do you have education or experience in human services and/or counseling, as well as

experience and training in the implementation of state and federal benefits and work

incentives? Put your skills and passions to work helping individuals with disabilities

achieve independence, vocational success, and other goals. This is not an office job.

Exact hours will depend on your clients' needs. You must have a valid driver’s license,

dependable transportation, ability to plan your day and then shift gears, if necessary, to

accommodate last-minute developments. We will consider part-time and full-time


Job Description:

Provide support to clients who are receiving disability benefits through Social Security

Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplement Security Income (SSI) programs. Essential to

this position is the ability to understand complex benefits and work incentive programs,

obtain the required …