Kaylee Rushing is one of the first graduates of a new program offered by WWRC and CVS Health to help individuals with disabilities prepare for jobs at CVS Health.
Show Notes for the Girl with the Semicolon Tattoo
Rick Sizemore is the Director of the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center
Rick’s Contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org @rickwwrc 540-332-7214
Anne Hudlow is the Director of the WWRC Foundation.
Anne’s Contact info: email@example.com WWRCF.org
David Casey @kcdiversity
See the CVS Video shot on location at WWRC at wwrcf.org
Hear the workforce 180 podcast at www.workforce180.com/podcast
Special thanks for Sally Murphy (vocals) and Richard Adams (recording and production) of the VR Workforce Jingle, composed by Rick Sizemore. Other music used with permission from Audio Hero.
Be sure to check out photos of the WWRC Ribbon Cutting Ceremony in the galleries. Click here
Transcript of the podcast follows:
This is the VR workforce studio, inspiration, education and affirmation “AT WORK”. The workforce and disability employment podcast from the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center, a Division of the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services. The VR Workforce Studio is published by our Foundation at wwrcf.org and is available in iTunes and at vrworkforcestudio.com. You are listening to the vrworkforcestudio.
This tattoo is a semicolon it means the story is not over, life goes on and then the purple on the outside is because I am a survivor of this too. It means that you are a survivor of depression and suicide and anxiety and so many other things, it’s like basically it’s a symbol for all.
Rick: On today’s episode of the vrworkforcestudio” the girl with the semicolon tattoo, the story isn’t over, life goes, on the Kaylee Rushing Story” in our big interview showcase today. Hi, I’m Rick Sizemore, Director of the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center.
Anne: And I’m Anne Hudlow, Director of the WWRC Foundation. Today we chronical the vocational rehabilitation journey of Kaylee Rushing. You’ll hear Kaylee describe the extraordinary obstacles she has faced along the path to her ultimate goal.
Kaylee Rushing: Oh! I’m employed.
Rick: And that goal is going to work.
Anne: You’ll hear how Kaylee became one of the success stories of CVS health’s new partnership with WWRC to provide jobs-driven training for individuals with disabilities. Despite multiple disabilities, abuse, bullying, and the devastating depression that followed her brothers suicide, Kaylee has emerged with a new tattoo of a semicolon that announces to the world that the story isn’t over, life goes on.
Rick: And it’s that award winning smile that made Kaylee one of the centerpieces of a huge celebration on a stage right here at WWRC in front of a capacity crowd just minutes ago. There were hosts of dignitaries and all cheering for Kaylee and her accomplishment. She’s one of the first graduates of this innovative new program that helps individuals with disabilities get jobs. Kaylee Rushing, the girl with the semicolon tattoo up next.
Rick: So let’s set the stage. Not more than an hour ago, we were on the stage, with Kaylee the Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, a host of executives from CVS Health, and numerous other dignitaries.
Anne: And Rick the energy in the room is enough to operate our recording equipment. Kaylee is smiling and she could just light up a room with her with her personality. But Kaylee, it’s such a pleasure to have you on the podcast. Let me ask you this to get us started. How did you feel to be the center of attention today?
Kaylee Rushing: I felt like a celebrity, like I was on the red carpet. Like a red carpet event and all eyes were on me and on the four of us. But you know, it was amazing and it’s a wonderful opportunity and such an honor to do this podcast, too.
Anne: So you started out in the audience. What was that like? Who… Who all was there?
Kaylee Rushing: Well there’s four of us who went through the first time and graduated through the CVS training program and then behind us you had the CVS employees like the, the um, the managers and all the big honchos.
Rick: So Kaylee, how many people do you think were here today?
Kaylee Rushing: I’m not sure, I was so nervous that I kind of looked, but I was like, you know, if I look too much then I’ll go wuhhahhhwuu and I might run.
Anne: Yes and some very important folks too.
Kaylee Rushing: And then in front of us was the stage and you had the podium in the middle on top of the stage. Then you had Mr. Rothrock himself, and then the delegates behind him, and the legislatures behind them, and then the Governor was beside Mr. Rothrock, and then on the other side, CVS workers and executives and that’s it.
Rick: Kaylee it’s a pretty big deal for the Governor of Virginia to come out to the Center and while he was here he made some powerful comments about people with disabilities and how they make great employees. I want to play just a brief clip from his comments just moments ago, and get your reaction to it.
Terry McAuliffe: And so today we celebrate a new innovative jobs training program at WWRC. The center is partnering with CVS Health to offer exciting opportunities for our WWRC graduates. In 2014 CVS Leadership learned about the Center’s mission and its extraordinary consumers when it sent a CVS Film Crew here. During the crew’s time on Campus, they actually saw all of the Centers great programs in action, from building Trades to drivers education, they even saw Forklift Training, they witnessed the interaction between the students who were eager to learn new skills, and the instructors who share their knowledge and passion for their work. So WWRC and CVS developed a new very strong partnership and earlier this year, the first group of young adults we are about to see with disabilities started to learn retail and materials handling skills while working at a mock CVS store, which has been built here on campus. The students who master the CVS values and skills, and graduate from the program, now have the qualifications to apply at any one of the 340 CVS stores we have here in Virginia. Today, we will recognize the first class of graduates of CVS jobs training program at this vocational center. (Applause) To the graduates, who I met with briefly before I came out, and to your parents, and to your friends, you should be very proud of the accomplishments. This is a spectacular program, so on behalf of all the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I think of what WWRC has meant to so many people, what it has meant to the Commonwealth of Virginia, and thank you from the bottom of our heart from all us to you, keep up the great work! Thank you very much.
Rick: Kaylee, how does that make you feel?
Kaylee: It was an honor for the Governor to take his time for my, you know to recognize my hard work and it’s amazing you know, you have all these hard workers and for the Governor to somehow to see what I did, was actually worth the time to come down here, it’s amazing.
Rick: Kaylee, this podcast is all about disability employment so what are your disabilities?
Kaylee: Well truthfully, I have had so many and I’ve overcome a lot actually, I was in kindergarten, I believe, where I realized I had a reading disability, now I read way above my reading level. And I’ve had a math disability, my whole life and I’m getting better at it. It’s called dyscalculia, which makes it harder to tell time on analog clocks, to count money, and to learn languages because somehow math has to do with languages, so I had a hard time with that and also through the abuse, they did tests on my brain and because of that they wanted to see what I had and what I had going on because they realized things were abnormal apparently, so they would run psychological tests on me and they realized I had a lot of disabilities.
Anne: So you started to learn about your disabilities when you were really young right?
Kaylee: I had a lot of tests through my whole life–after abuse. When I lived with my aunt and uncle before I was adopted, they realized things were not normal. I had things so they went and had me tested. So basically, every year I have been tested psychologically, and even here, they did psychological things on me, you know? They wanted me to see a psychologist to see what was going on and how I was doing, and coping with everything.
Rick: Kaylee help us better understand what are some of your challenges?
Kaylee: I have a list of them, a long one, and we couldn’t even understand half of them because the scientific names are complicated, but I have ADHD and ADD which means it’s hard for me to concentrate and stay still, if you haven’t noticed. Um, we believe I have tourettes, I don’t make the noises, but I do the twitches. I don’t know if you noticed? Hopefully, no one caught me doing this or twitching or anything, but I’m afraid reporters and all probably caught that when I was sitting down. Also, we think I have a little autism because of my sensitivity to hearing and in my sight like everything kind of gets bright or like when the clapping was going on, I had to go like this because it was too loud for me.
Anne: And what are some of the aspects of your vocational rehabilitation that helped you begin to build your employment skills and overcome your disabilities?
Kaylee: Well the thing was I went through Life Skills first and that’s another thing WWRC provides, and that helps with learning how to live on your own the first time. And there is a special class, which I took, that helped me deal with it. But then when you go into training, it actually helps you physically to work around it, it helps you to time yourself and it helps you to try to stay on track. It shows you what you can and what you actually can’t do. And what you think you can’t do, what you think you can’t do, you actually CAN do!
Rick: So during these vocational training sessions, what surprised you most about your abilities?
Kaylee: I was actually faster than I thought, in stocking and unstocking shelves and organization, and that I have stamina and the will to work. People used to call me lazy because I slept all time; oh, severe depression is also one of the things. They thought I was just lazy, but then as soon as I started working, it is just something that gave me the motivation, you know. I have gone far.
Anne: Part of Materials Handling is getting outside of the classroom and actually going out into the community once you have had some basic skills and working in different businesses. So how did doing this get you into the CVS program?
Kaylee: See, the thing was, I went to Sears first because apparently when I went into the Materials Handling classroom, they realized that I was more advanced and I was faster at it than they had expected. They gave me an option: Walmart or Sears? I picked Sears because it was more complicated or more challenging, and then I went to the Blue Ridge area Food Bank that I chose, and by the time I was almost done with that, the CVS finally opened up and they looked at my profiles and my progress reports and saw I did an excellent job, so they chose me; they decided to choose me as one of their executives.
Rick: So you started out working in the mock store, so tell us what that was like?
Kaylee: You know truthfully, it’s nothing compared to the real store. I mean, yes you have your other students, who are the customers and employees and all, but once you get out into the real world, it’s nothing like that. You have some grumpy customers, no matter what, that complain, but you just have to keep a positive attitude. But it helps show the atmosphere and it trains you, it’s like we use a cash register, count money, and we stock, unstock, we sweep, we mop, we arrange stuff in the way it needs to be.
Anne: So working in the mock store, helped you get ready for the internship. What was that like?
Kaylee: It was an amazing experience, I loved all my co-workers. I went in with a smile; I had them laughing. It was like my goal to make all the customers smile and laugh and feel better. I went up and I would say “hi, how may I help you?” and if they needed something, I would show them and take them right to it and show them. If I didn’t know, I did not say “I don’t know”, I would say well why don’t we find it together? Or look for it together or find out together?
Rick: How has the whole process of vocational rehabilitation and the vocational training in the mock store, and out at the intern sites–how has that changed you Kaylee?
Kaylee: Well you know I want to give my service to where, oh my goodness, I go to other CVSs, but they don’t have someone like me there. Someone who actually takes them every time to what they need and actually smile at them, every time.
Anne: I’ve been to CVS when I was not in the best of moods, as part of your training, did you run into any grumpy customers? How did you handle that?
Kaylee: I kept my calmness and, you know, I helped them anyway. I didn’t yell back, I didn’t scream, I didn’t cry, I was kind of close to crying, but I didn‘t cry because I don’t like getting yelled at. And you realize, they are not upset at you, but they are upset at the situation. A lot of times, when you go into a CVS, they are looking for medicine so they are not feeling well, imagine you know, when you’re sick, aren’t you grumpy? I know I am, I am like leave me alone, or let me sleep.
Rick: What was your strongest asset as a CVS trainee and now employee?
Kaylee: Well, the greatest thing of all is great customer service. You need to have a positive attitude and you need to think like what would you like, not what they think you should be. You need think, what if I was treated this way, would that benefit me or would that benefit both of us? It needs to benefit both of us.
Anne: Just knowing you Kaylee and your personality, I’ll bet you were a real hit!
Rick: Well, we made a visit out to the CVS store where Kaylee did her internship with one of the Business Development Managers and the Supervisor from the program here at WWRC, and the comment that the Shift Supervisor made to me is that: “Well, we don’t want to hire her, we want to adopt her” when they talked about you, Kaylee.
Kaylee: They said that since I was there the customer service sky rocketed through the roof. Like it totally, it sky rocketed, it went up.
Rick: So how do you measure that?
Kaylee: Oh, it’s a survey, and the customers turn in a survey and, apparently, the survey improved, I guess.
Anne: What other abilities did you master? One of the things, you have to have down cold if you’re going to make it within CVS.
Kaylee: You know you have to work fast, but not too fast where you mess everything up, it needs to be neat, but orderly, but quick.
Rick: So what is the best kind of day at CVS?
Kaylee: Everyday! Because I love the trucks, loading and unloading trucks. Well not loading trucks, but unloading trucks. I love unloading the totes and putting stuff where it is. I love–some of customers were wonderful, you know? I told them about what I was going through with my brother and you know, sometimes we would have long conversations with them because no one else was in the store, but I was also helping them as we were moving around the store, and it was wonderful. It’s uplifting, if you give something, they’ll give something back.
Anne: So Kaylee, what would you be doing if you hadn’t gone through vocational training?
Kaylee: Um, I would probably be laying in bed.
Rick: You talked about depression, is that still an issue?
Kaylee: My depression has gotten better; I still battle it especially after what happened to my brother.
Anne: So, Kaylee, can you talk about your brother?
Kaylee: Yes, Scott Rushing, my now eighteen year old brother who turned 18 on March 11th, committed suicide December 4th of 2015 and it’s been a devastating blow to my whole family, especially my mom.
Anne: So your brother committed suicide while you were in Vocational Training. How did that affect you?
Kaylee: I just wish I could have spent more time with my brother, a little more at least, sometimes I’m like if only, you know, I had gone home more instead of so serious with my program. Just to, you know, have one last hug, one last laugh with him.
Rick: How did you deal with all this Kaylee?
Kaylee: It was hard because you know my youngest brother being there, and it’s so quiet.
Rick: Kaylee, I was out at CVS with one of your teachers one day and you rode back in the car with us to the Center and on that car ride back, you talked about Scott and your plans to get a tattoo, so you’ve completed that haven’t you?
Kaylee: My mom and me, and two of our best friends got them. But it was ahead of us, but we got there late. But the tattoos are a semicolon. Hers was blue and turquoise, actually it was kind of green and turquoise I think, but hers was small. But I wanted it to be big and noticeable so that people would actually notice it and ask. But this tattoo is a semicolon and it means the story is not over, life goes on. And it’s green on the inside because that’s his favorite color and even though he is gone, he is still with me in my heart and in my memories and in my soul. And then the purple on the outside is because I am a survivor of this too. It means you are a survivor of depression, and suicide and anxiety and so many other things. Basically it’s a symbol for all.
Anne: It sounds like you’re doing an amazing job of coping with this, it cannot be easy.
Kaylee: I haven’t really committed to it yet because it is so new and it still hurts, but overtime I think I will. And, you know, just strive, don’t think you can’t do enough, I mean, you know, you may be small or you may have a disability, but you can accomplish anything when you put your mind to it.
Rick: So let’s take a step back from all of this, you have worked through the devastating effects of your loss. You’ve gone through a lot of vocational training, you have evolved some skills. What is your perspective on vocational rehabilitation?
Kaylee: It was an honor; it’s all paid by the government. It’s like thank you tax payers! You think that when you pay taxes it goes to a non-fundable worthless cause but it comes here and it helps pay for students to, you know, to have a better future then what they would if they didn’t. Especially, you know, disabilities used to be shunned, but now it’s not as much, you know, people are becoming more accepting, and you know when you come here the outside world, I noticed, stares at you and looks at you like you’re a freak or something, but once you come here, you don’t only build friendships, but friendships become family. I mean with the directors and with the employers at the job sites and also, even the teachers, the trainers, and also the students all become one big family and you learn to work with your disabilities and become better with them. You don’t get rid of them, you never get rid of them, but you learn to cope with them.
Anne: If someone asked you, why hire someone with a disability what would you say to them?
Kaylee: I think you should because they actually have more, you know, they have more to offer than someone who doesn’t. I mean it’s ok to hire someone who doesn’t, but someone with a disability has a different perspective and you need to have an open mind. So many people have closed minds and it’s no offense kind of boring. But if you have an open mind then you see the world through so many different eyes. And then you know see so many opportunities and then life becomes more to live for and you can thrive on it.
Rick: Kaylee a lot of guests on this show, particularly employers have said that business cultures are improved when they hire someone with a disability. In fact, there is a study in the journal of vocational rehabilitation that talks about 87% of people who were surveyed; say that they would rather do business with an enterprise that hires individuals with disabilities. What is it about being a worker with a disability that might make someone say that?
Kaylee: Well, you know, you think you can’t do it, but you really can you have to stop saying I can’t and say I can. You need to think positive thoughts. You need to hang around people who are positive, and give you support, don’t hang around people who tear you down because you will lose your self-confidence and then you’ll never succeed at that. Be around people who support and love you.
Anne: I’ll bet you, there isn’t an employer in the United States, that wouldn’t agree with you, and I think that is the reason the Governor and David Casey from CVS gave you a plaque today for exemplifying those qualities and completing this program.
Rick: David Casey, of course, one of the top executives in the whole CVS Health Company.
Kaylee: Well, we were all called up and we were given a plaque, all four of us were given a plaque for our hard work. And then we had reporters swarming us trying to get to us like “Here! Can we get a picture? Here! Here!” and then after all of that, when it was almost dying down, I was given, my manager that I had an interview with, gave me my shirt and said “You are now employed”
Anne: So what did it feel like going up on stage for that award?
Kaylee: Apparently I was shaking in my chair because I have really bad anxiety and so apparently I guess I was shaking and people were trying to help me calm down on the sidelines. Kayla, Kayla and Shanile, they were trying to help me breathe cause they saw I was going “aaaghh!”
Rick: Let us play a brief clip of David Casey and his comments, before we finish up. Here is David Casey:
“It’s really my honor to join you here at the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center. Even though the word disability has ten letters, far too often do we give the most attention to the first three. It’s just one demographic that any of us can enter in to at any point of time: Americans with disabilities make up almost 1/5th of the U.S. population; however, the unemployment rate among them is twice that of the population over all. For woman, minorities and veterans with disabilities, the rates are even higher. Despite all they contribute to our society people with disabilities still face too many barriers to employment, limited access to skills training and too often unfairly low expectations. CVS Health is a pharmacy innovation company focused on continually finding new solutions to help people on their path to better health. We know innovation comes from cultivating a workforce that fosters creativity and inclusion and that reflects the rich diversity of our customers and our local communities. At CVS Health we are committed to tearing down those barriers so that all our colleagues and community members have equal access to security and prosperity that stable jobs and stable communities provide. We are committed to this not only because it is the right thing to do because it makes good business sense. On any given days, there are more three-hundred vacancies at CVS Health Retail stores, right here in Virginia. Like any other employer, we depend on the growing and productive workforce to help us fill those positions with the most talented and dedicated individuals available. Disabilities should not stand as barriers between those individuals and the good jobs for which they are qualified. That’s the reason we are here to celebrate today, a big congratulations to the four students completing the programs and their families here today. Shanile Holloway, Kaylee Rushing, Kayla Wayte, Kayla Wade, and very quickly I will tell you, we have extended offers already to Shanile and Kaylee Rushing. And as soon as Kayla and Kayla finish their training, they will be eligible to apply, as well. *clapping*
Rick: Well, you know, Anne, the plaque that Kaylee received is quite exceptional.
Anne: Oh it is, but, oh wow, that pin. Tell us about that pin Rick?
Rick: There are various organizations that offer their top executives a lapel pin to sort of signify their importance, and I was watching David Casey, and Kaylee you were standing beside him when you got that shirt, and he took off his lapel pin and put it on your shirt. That’s incredible!
Anne: That’s incredible. I’ve got chills.
Kaylee: Apparently, these pins are impossible to get. There is a limited amount and I feel so, you know so…I am sorry I am so tired. I’ve had so much going on, it is so exhilarating, it’s an honor. I feel honored to have a pen. I am so honored!
Rick: So Kaylee, you have a job.
Kaylee Rushing: Oh, I’m employed and it feels wonderful. It feels like all the struggles that I went through here and in life have finally accomplished. You know so many people say that I would not amount to anything. I went through a lot of bullying and they… I had low self-esteem because they said I would never accomplish anything, and here I am.
Anne: So Kaylee, what would you like to say to all those people who bullied you.
Kaylee: See what I’ve become
Rick: So Kaylee, what have you become?
Kaylee: I’ve become an employee of CVS. I’ve met the Governor of Virginia. It was worth all of the struggles, you know, all the obstacles it brought and all the drama here. It’s worth all of it. You put your blood, your sweat, your tears, your full energy, everything into it, and in the end, it’s fully worth it.
Rick: And what is your advice to others who think they might want to try vocational rehabilitation?
Kaylee: Don’t give up. You can reach your dreams.
Rick: So what an amazing interview with an incredible young woman, Kaylee Rushing.
Anne: You know, she is incredible. It’s been an honor to have her here Rick.
Rick: We’re going to continue reflecting on Kaylee’s story and our next guest is Duane Rohr, the Workforce Incentives Manager with CVS Health. He was instrumental, do you remember the day he called and wanted to donate a store to our Foundation.
Anne: Oh absolutely, that was a big day and it has just built from there.
Rick: Well one of the things we have found through this podcast is that when people hear these stories, they really want to help. So welcome to the podcast, Dwayne, let me ask you a question: Tell us about the work that has gone into this program and how you feel about it?
Duane: Well, CVS Health’s purpose is helping people on their path to better health. When a program like this falls into place and you see how many people can benefit from this type of training, you realize that you are really living up to that purpose. Some companies say they have a purpose, but here it shows that CVS Health is living up to our purpose with the individuals that are being helped by that program. It shows that the whole team here at CVS Health believes in that purpose and each CVS employee shows the values of caring and empathy. It shows with all the CVS colleagues that are involved with this program, with the field team and the store management team, and the commitment they all have made to the program with each one of the students.
Rick: You also got an award today for you efforts, what does it make you feel like to be acknowledged in this way?
Duane: Rick, my passion for these programs is driven by the lives that we touch everyday with the individuals we work with. Nothing beats seeing the excitement from an individual when you’re able to offer them a job with the company. Kaylee was a great example, when I talked to her on the phone to tell her I had an interview set up for her with a store in her area, the excitement in her voice and listening to her talk brought tears to my eyes. At CVS Health, we really are helping people on their path to better health. Awards are nice to receive, they make you feel good, but seeing how you can really touch a person’s life makes your heart feel good. That’s when you know you are doing the right thing and that is what makes me love my job. When it is all said and done, helping these individuals receive the training they need to be employed in the community and be part of that community is what it is all about.
Anne: Where do you see us going from here, Duane?
Duane: Yes, I think that this is just the beginning of many success stories. Last year, we had ten hires from the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, and the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center, even without the training program. Just think what we can do now that we have a training program in place. We will be able to train and hire many more people with this program, not only will some be able to work at CVS Pharmacy, but they will have a skill that can be used in any retail business. This is what is right for these individuals, the community, and CVS Health. There are going to be many more success stories to come from this and I am looking forward to seeing how many lives we can touch with this program.
Anne: Duane, we have really enjoyed working with you over the past year and look forward to the great things in future, thank you!
Support for the distribution and publication of the VR Workforce Studio comes from CVS Health. CVS Health, helping people on their path to better health.
Rick: Isn’t Kaylee amazing?
Anne: You know what, she really really is. I have enjoyed this episode; I love hearing about all the positive things happening in her life and the things she’s overcome.
Rick: Well, Anne, in addition to doing this Podcast together, we have something else in common.
Anne: We do! And that is….
Rick: Middle school girls
Anne: that’s right!
Rick: in our families
Anne: That’s right, that’s right, a lot of texting, a lot of back and forth phone calls, who’s got the homework list.
Rick: Understanding the interaction between students and teachers is part of the middle school parents’ experience. We have got a couple teachers with us today. And we are very excited! Traci Rodammer, who spent her whole career in education and Steve Sweeney, more than three decades as a vocational instructor here at the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center. Welcome to the podcast!
Steve: Oh it’s our pleasure.
Traci: Thank you.
Rick: We are delighted to have you, as we continue reflecting on Kaylee and the success of her program, Traci, what do you consider when you’re constructing a curriculum for individuals with disabilities that you might not think about in the typical educational setting?
Traci: Rick, when constructing a curriculum for individuals with disabilities, I really want to be cognizant of varying strengths and weaknesses of our students. We all learn through repetition, and I use repetition to help our students build a firm knowledge, a basis for important customer service using soft skills and hard skills. Hard skills are how to do the job, but soft skills are those skills that make us really good employees. For example; CVS has a motto called “Got Heart?” and the “G” represents greet for greet the customer. And the “O” means offer assistance and the “T” means thank them for coming to your CVS. Well this is the motto that we would discuss virtually daily because all people want to feel valued and welcome. When we discuss this as a class, our students understand the importance of the outstanding customer service, much like the customer service that Kaylee Rushing gave in her CVS internship.
Rick: Traci how did you actually modify the CVS curriculum so it would meet the needs of students like Kaylee and others?
Traci: Well in this particular case, CVS Health spent a great deal of time with us, going over their new employee orientation manual. They shared the company values and their innovation, collaboration or teamwork, caring, integrity, and accountability with us. I was delighted to see how closely their values aligned with the WWRC’s Materials Handling; we have lessons on character that we already teach in our curriculum. But to answer your question, I took the CVS Health orientation manual and supplemental materials that they gave us and I overlaid them onto our current curriculum in Materials Handling. In all of the lessons that we came up were hands on in our mock store. Sometimes the student’s did them alone, sometimes they did them in a team, but a lot of times they were evaluated by other classmates for additional learning. Sometimes they were timed to increase efficiency, but every student moved at his or her own pace; however, every day our students had time to discuss their personal and classroom experiences to enhance their learning experiences. All of these together provided a firm basis of knowledge for our students in Materials Handling and CVS Learning. I am just thrilled about the success that our first four graduates had at their CVS internships.
Anne: And Steve, what was it like working with Kaylee Rushing?
Steve: So you like helping people who want to do what they can do. When I started her thirty-three years ago, I think during my interview, I recall saying that “helping people, who need help to help themselves is satisfying both professionally and personally.” And I still feel that way and again, with Kaylee, it was just so wonderful because she wanted to do, she tried to do, and she put forth her best effort and so you could not help but do everything that you can to be as supportive and as helpful and to give her every opportunity that you could and she took full advantage of those situations.
Rick: Kaylee relayed to us, that she had PTSD, ADD, ADHD, short term memory loss and what she described as other psychological challenges that were difficult for her to recall the terminology on. So what is it about the teaching methods, in this new partnership with CVS that enabled it to be so successful so much so that the manager at the store here locally said “Kaylee walked through the door on day one, ready and fully able to perform the job.”
Traci: I firmly believe that Kaylee believed in CVS’s ways, in their values, in their beliefs, in their customer service mottos, in the “got heart theory.” And Kaylee, I believe, as Steve said, I do believe she typified the type of student that WWRC and Materials Handling works best for. She was prompt; she was ready to give her best, she completely invested in our program. She was full of enthusiasm. She knew we believed in her and she believed in herself. She was a complete joy to teach, and I think her joy bubbled over in CVS. I think her customers saw that, she is an absolute inspiration to everyone she touches.
Rick: Traci, Steve thank you for being on the podcast.
Steve: Oh it’s our pleasure.
Tracey: It’s our pleasure, Thank you.
Rick: So as we finish up today, special thanks to our Council of Organizations for their support of our production on today’s podcast. Also you can now find us on Stitcher radio, download the app at Stitcher.com and Anne did you catch that the Governor promoted our “don’t dis me” video produced by CVS here last year.
Anne: Oh, I did. That was incredible, that was so exciting because that video has just been tremendous for us and, you know, it also shows the collaboration between CVS and WWRC, and the positive ways that it’s leading us into the future.
Rick: Outstanding, and photos of the big event are in our gallery at VR Workforce Studio.com, check those out. The Governor’s photographer did a heck of a job! So you don’t want to miss those and Anne, another great week! You were a guest on Workforce 180.
Anne: Yes, that was so exciting and it was really an honor to asked by Doug to be interviewed on his show, and it was nice to take a few minutes to reflect on how our podcast, has positively affected both the Center and the Foundation, how we’re able to get the stories out. The tremendous stories here from the center out to the community and also to connect people with the foundation in ways that they can help. It was just nice to have that opportunity and I really enjoyed it!
Rick: Great podcast, workforce 180 with Doug Ferresta, we’ll have a link to that and look forward to the episode with Anne. Again, that link will be in our show notes along with all of our contact information at VRWorkforceStudio.com. Just visit the landing page. Click the green listen now tab, just underneath the player you will find all the show notes, as well as a transcript of all of today’s podcast.
Anne: That’s right, and you can always find out more about WWRC at WWRC.virginia.gov; as well as the Foundation at www.WWRCF.org.
I am Anne Hudlow, and I am Rick Sizemore, until next time.
Won’t you join us in helping to create hope and a path forward so individuals with disabilities can lead more productive lives while enhancing our workforce and moving our new Virginia economy forward?
Thank you Rick
VR workforce studio…inspiration, education and affirmation at work. The workforce and disability employment podcast from the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center, a Division of the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services. The VRworkforce studio is published by our foundation at wwrcf.org and is available in iTunes and at VRworkforce studio.com
Support for the distribution and publication of the VR workforce studio comes from CVS Health, CVS Health, helping people on their path to better health.