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Meet Abigail Ford, one of the first vocational rehabilitation trainees from the CVS mock store at ACTI.


Rick Sizemore Twitter @Rickwwrc or email,

Anne Hudlow’s email is

Jonathan Bibb’ Twitter @jlbibb email, (Contact Jonathan to learn more about how National Consortium Centers are documenting measurable skills gains and workforce credentials.)

Steve Wooderson and Vision 2020

Cherie Takemoto, PhD Project Director/Senior Research Analyst  Phone: 703-356-8035 ext. 107  National Clearinghouse for Rehabilitation Training Materials on twitter @RSA_NCRTM


Speaker 1: VR Work Force Studio.

Speaker 2: VR Work Force Studio. Inspiration, education and affirmation at work. Welcome to another episode as we open up to the VR Workforce Studio to champion the courageous stories of vocational rehabilitation from individuals with disabilities.

Speaker 3: Listen to our amazing stories about the disability employment journey.

Speaker 5: Heroes who carve our pathway through the challenge.

Speaker 3:And fear to joy and share in our inspiration as we overcome disabilities and go to work.

Speaker 2:  We’ll also meet the champions of business and industry who hire individuals with disabilities.

speaker 5: I can say beyond the shadow of a doubt that some of our best employees have disabilities.

Speaker 2: And hear from the VR professionals who have dedicated their lives and careers to helping individuals with disabilities come to work. Now here’s the host to the VR Workforce Studio, Rick Sizemore along with his director of the Wilson workforce and rehabilitation center Foundation, Anne Hudlow.

Rick Sizemore: On today’s episode of the VR workforce studio podcast the voices of measurable skills gains and workforce credentials from the Arkansas career and technical institute as we talk to Abigail Ford. Abigail had never thought of working at CVS until the opportunity of a mock store came along and now the door is open. We talk with Abigail about training in the mock store and later on today’s show, comments from Jonathan Bibb, the ACTI director. Abigail Ford is a student at the Arkansas career and technical institute in Hot Springs Arkansas. Welcome to the podcast Abigail.

Abigail Ford: Thank you.

Rick Sizemore: So, you’re involved in the training, the workforce is like. What have training there at ACTI for a position and possible employment at CVS. Tell us what that is like. What have you been doing?

Abigail Ford: Well, they started off with they took a few students so we were into a class made by the NRF foundation and it was known as retail fundamentals. From there I found that I really liked retail and I liked the business and industry and my teacher suggested, “Hey, why don’t you try out this class that we’re starting out called CVS pharmacy where it’s got a mock store mock pharmacy?” So, with that I said, “I’d like to give it a try”, since I had the ability to do so. When we started the class, I was a little unsure because I really didn’t know what it was about. I had never actually been to a CVS at the time but as we started going to the class I started learning about not just what they do in the store now but what they’ve been doing in the store since they started.

Abigail Ford:                 CVS has a very unique atmosphere to it because while most industries have … We care about our customers because we want them to buy more stuff, CVS is we care about our customers because we want them to be healthy. We want them to live good lives so we’re going to care about them like they’re family and I found it very unique. And the more we got into it we learned things like plano grams, which is how they set up the shelves, we learned about money handling, customer service. There’s a fundamental thing called ‘got heart’ where you greet the customer, you offer them help and then you thank them for coming in. They teach us a lot of really cool things that I had never known and if I had gone and gotten a job at CVS before this course, I would be lost otherwise.

Rick Sizemore: Well, it sounds like you’re fully ready to go out and try some of the actual programing that’s occurring in one of the CVS health stores?

Abigail Ford: Yes. Because of the training in the mock store, we had random people that would come in that were mock customers and they fully prepared us like it would be in an actual store environment. So, I am excited to use that skill that I’ve obtained from this course in an actual externship at a CVS store that I’ll be getting introduced soon and I am really excited about it.

Rick Sizemore: That is fantastic. Well, Abigail, we wish you nothing but the greatest success out at CVS and in your vocational rehabilitation program there at ACTI. Thanks for joining us on the podcast.

Abigail Ford: Thank you for letting me join you.

Rick Sizemore: We’re on the phone, actually on Skype with Jonathan Bibb who is the president of the national consortium of state operated comprehensive centers. He comes to us from his office at the Arkansas career and technical institute. Welcome to the podcast Jonathan.

Jonathan Bibb: Well, hello Rick. It’s great to be back on the podcast. Looking forward to sharing some great information about the CVS training store and mock pharmacy here at ACTI.

Rick Sizemore: Well, we’re both pretty active on twitter and other social media and I was so thrilled to see our friend Steve Warderson, the CEO of CSAVR down in Arkansas and even out at your center to see this exciting new facility you’ve launched.

Jonathan Bibb: Absolutely. He was here working with our agency on our strategic plan trying to make sure that we not only align with the federal requirements of WOIA but also to make sure that we were aware and really focused in vision 2020. So, I think we’ve got some really great input and feedback from our senior leaders and having them all on campus was always great. Some of our newer leaders who haven’t been here very often were able to come on campus, see some of our training programs, meet with our students, so it was a very good week for ACTI.

Rick Sizemore: And it’s exciting to see this national context that’s been created around vision 2020. Mission driven, dual customer focus, the creativity that really is creating this national context in our 79 VR agencies all coming together around this great leader and this wonderful vision that submerged out of CSAVR.

Jonathan Bibb: I can’t say enough about Steve Wooderson’s leadership and his ability to roll his sleeves up and really get in to the nuts and bolts of VR work so that we not only meet regular requirements but serve our clients, serve our students with this abilities in incredible ways that really open up opportunities for them in competitive and integrated employment.

Rick Sizemore: And CSAVR seems to really be embracing the organization that you lead, the national consortium of our state operated comprehensive centers, that’s pretty exciting.

Jonathan Bibb: It is. It is great to have champions that work very closely with legislative delegations and congressional delegations about the laws that are being passed but also to share the successes that are going on in our comprehensive centers and really providing that focus and that leadership that’s needed to highlight this successes that we have.

Rick Sizemore: Again, back to Steve and one of the elements of vision 2020 mission driven and dual customer focused, it seems to me ACTI is doing just that with the CVS training facility. Tell us what’s going on?

Jonathan Bibb: Well, we have seven students that have begun the process. We were able to work with CVS. Have all our memorandums of understanding in place so we have finished the in class portion and also the work that’s done in the mock store. Now we’re getting prepared for the internship component that’s going to happen in our local CVS. So we’re very excited about that. Our students have done incredible work and this is just a great opportunity for us to be actively involved in business engagement and it’s really business ownership of the training and services that we’re providing for VR clients here at ACTI.

Rick Sizemore: Jonathan, Abigail seems fully ready to embrace the mission there at ACTI and the environment at CVS.

Jonathan Bibb: Well, I think this is just a testament to how well vocational rehabilitation and the corporate culture of CVS align and this is a great partnership. I am so excited that we’re having many opportunities in our comprehensive centers. One right after the other being able to offer this type of training but also to have such a great corporate partner that will come in and really help us develop a pipeline into employment for VR consumers.

Rick Sizemore: Great. Well, Jonathan Bibbs is the president of the national consortium of state operated comprehensive centers and the director at the Arkansas career and technical institute down in Hot Springs. Jonathan, thanks for being on the podcast.

Jonathan Bibb: Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity and appreciate all the work that you do through this podcast and being able to get the word out about the great things that are going on in vocational rehabilitation.

Rick Sizemore: Looking ahead at the rest of the year we have some exciting episodes playing. David Dillon is a manufacturing technician who works at Eastman Chemical. We’ll hear from him about the job and how vocational rehabilitation helped him get the skills he needs for a career at Eastman and how the pre-apprenticeship program at Wilson workforce and rehabilitation center paved the way for some exciting opportunities for David and then we’re on our way out to the resort. That’s Omni resort at the Homestead in Hot Springs. We’ll talk with business development manager Penny Wetherell] about how she uses job fairs to facilitate business engagement with Omni. We’ll also meet and talk with two of the Omni employees who found their paths to their positions at Omni through vocational rehabilitation and get comments from sous chef Jon Ferguson on how VR fills the talent pipelines for the homestead.

Rick Sizemore: Well, we want to put in a plug for the national clearing house for rehabilitation training materials, check out our episode with Cherie Takemoto as she gives us a tour of the clearing house. And we finish up today’s special episode with a word of thanks to Randy Sizemore, Sizemore Design, for all of his technical support. Thanks for joining us for today’s special episode. Your support absolutely means the world to us. If you’d like to get In touch, my contact information is in the show notes at where you can also find information about the co-host and executive producer for the VR workforce studio Anne Hudlow. Tweet us and email or just leave us a message. Until next time I am Rick Sizemore with the courageous stories of vocational rehabilitation.

Speaker 2: Support for the foundation’s production and distribution of the VR workforce studio comes from CVS health, Dominion Energy, the Virginia Manufacturers Association, The Jesse [inaudible 00:11:59] Fund and America Plus.