Meet Jenny Lorenzo, Talent Acquisition Manager for the Omni Homestead and hear her perspectives on disability employment
Speaker 1: VR Workforce Studio. Inspiration, education, and affirmation at work. Welcome to another episode as we open up the VR Workforce Studio to champion the courageous stories of vocational rehabilitation from individuals with disabilities.
Speaker 2: Listen to our amazing stories about the disability employment journey.
Speaker 3: Hear us describe our pathway through the challenge.
Speaker 4: And feel the joy and share in our inspiration as we overcome disabilities and go to work.
Speaker 1: 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 1: And here from the VR professionals who have dedicated their lives and careers to helping individuals with disabilities go to work. Now here’s the host of the VR Workforce Studio, Rick Sizemore, along with the executive director of the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center Foundation, Anne Hudlow.
Rick Sizemore: Well welcome to today’s show, have a very special guest for you, Jennifer Lorenzo, who is the talent acquisition manager at the Omni Homestead. We first met Jennifer on an episode we did a couple of months ago, featuring Taylor Henning and Jason Wildman … two young men in the voc rehab program who graduated from vocational training and then went through a mini job fair … to careers at the Omni Homestead. So we’re delighted to welcome back Jennifer. I’d like to get started Jennifer, with a reflection on what you see as the skill sets that Taylor Henning brings to his job from vocational rehabilitation.
Jenny Lorenzo: Taylor’s ability to remain organized and kind of prioritize where his focus needs to be has been really beneficial, and his success as well.
Rick Sizemore: Well that’s awesome. So those measurable skill gains are occurring and they’re transitioning into that work environment and demonstrating those skills for you at homestead.
Jenny Lorenzo: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Definitely, 100%. And you know, I can say I think … we probably wouldn’t see … we probably wouldn’t have seen the gains that we have, or even their ability to pick things up as quickly as they have without the additional support that’s been offered through the Workforce Center and through DARS.
Rick Sizemore: That is awesome. The other thing that we focus on is business engagement, and we’ve talked with Penni Wetherell about the job fair. And as a talent acquisition manager, what are your thoughts on using the job fair as a way to connect workers with the available jobs you have at Homestead?
Jenny Lorenzo: I personally loved that job fair that we had, and you know Penni and I talk all the time, “Okay when is the next one, when are we getting it on the calendar?” Because that for me, it’s so nice to be able to the consumers and to be able to come to … you know our prospective associates so they don’t necessarily have to come out to our property right away. To be able to meet them in person in an area where they’re comfortable, they have their support team just readily there and accessible … it’s really nice. And I love the opportunities we had to tour the facilities and just see how some of the consumers have grown, even in the past couple of times since I’ve been there. It’s been really inspiring truly, to see a lot of the progress that’s made and a lot of the programs that are offered. And to see truly how much more successful and how many more opportunities exist for us to bring additional consumers on to our property as prospective new associates.
Rick Sizemore: Well it seems to me that you offer a tremendous amount of support to someone considering employment there. Can you tell us what it would be like to work at Homestead? Some of the benefits?
Jenny Lorenzo: Sure. So we really have a variety of benefits available, whether we’re talking about the kind of more so standard insurance … medical, dental, vision … to our Omni and Homestead specific benefits. So you know in regards to our associates in particular anyone who works on property has the opportunity to participate in activities that we offer. You know, so if we have an associate who wants to go zip lining, they’re able to go zip lining at a discount or no charge, depending on the business volume. Separate from that for our associates who live on property, which both of our associates … both Jason and Taylor do live in our employee housing. You know we have … we’ve built and created a real sense of community at that location, and it’s nice because it’s less than a 10 minute walk from employee housing up to the property.
Jenny Lorenzo: We have a shuttle that runs up to property … you know if it’s raining or cold or you just don’t want to walk that day, you get to just jump in the shuttle, ride with your fellow associates … some people that you may get to see all the time or some people that you may get to see every once in a while. So we have that sense of community that we really focus on building within not only our Omni Homestead property but encouraging all of our associates to do anything they can to become a part of the larger Omni brand as well.
Rick Sizemore: Well that’s a fantastic opportunity for someone who wants to get involved in a community and work at such a pristine and gorgeous location. I know that I talked with Jason just before the job fair and he already had his mind made up, this is where I want to work. And it’s exciting to hear that that’s come to fruition … his dad actually, I think, drove out for the interview and I’m not sure who was happier, him or his dad that he was employed. I know when my oldest son got employed, that was the highlight of my life. You know he’s got a job in healthcare so things are good, right?
Jenny Lorenzo: Yeah, yeah.
Rick Sizemore: So let me just go a little different direction in discussing disability employment, which is the only thing we focus on in this podcast.
Jenny Lorenzo: Yeah.
Rick Sizemore: More and more employers really don’t even want to talk about the disability, they’re focused on the worker. But I’d like, if you would, to share any observations or thoughts you have, on what it’s like working with individuals with disabilities.
Jenny Lorenzo: You know I think if you hadn’t told me that Taylor himself was an individual who had graduated from the Wilson Workforce Center … from their program, it would have never even cross my mind. You know he has truly just fit in with our team here so seamlessly and it’s been such a joy and a positive energy that he brings to the table, and that he brings to the team here at the Omni Homestead. And so I personally, I love it. And I think truly, we really need to as a community we need to focus more so really, on the individual and on the associate. Because regardless of what someone’s disability may be, or may not be, we here at the Omni Homestead … we’re really fortunate that the variety of opportunities that we have are so vast, we can typically find a position that will work with someone or will work for someone … and be something that they’re interested in and that they receive fulfillment from.
Rick Sizemore: That’s the very essence of a great employer, who’s trying to match the skill sets that individuals bring to the available jobs. And we work best with people who do that. I was talking with a gentleman a while ago and he said, “We modify our teaching techniques and we use specialized instructional methods to help individuals with disabilities … and yet, at the same time, they apply to everyone.” And it seems like that’s what you’ve learned at Omni, how to help anyone coming in find the best match for the skills they have.
Jenny Lorenzo: For sure. For our associates who have come from Wilson Workforce Center, we do tend to have job coaches on site, every other week or so, depending on the need of the new associate … but we’ve really … I think we’ve been really fortunate in the engagement level that we’ve seen and that we’ve had in our hires that we brought on from the Wilson Workforce Center and through DARS … because there has just been such an excitement, and eagerness, and a willingness to work that they’ve really made our lives so much easier in a lot of respects. Because sometimes I think there can be … there can definitely be a hesitation about bringing someone onboard who has disability, but when you have someone that has the right attitude, that’s really all that matters.
Rick Sizemore: Any final thoughts on the discussion about hiring individuals with disabilities as far as your work as involved as a talent acquisition manager?
Jenny Lorenzo: I’m just excited to continue partnering with DARS and with WWRC to have the opportunity to hopefully continue to bring on more associates to our team here, because I think the wider breath of experience and background that we can bring to our team, the stronger our team is gonna be as a whole. I look forward, really, to all the opportunities that we have in the future to continue to partner.
Rick Sizemore: With a workforce of a thousand people and the level of support that you offer, I believe people with disabilities will be attracted to the job that you have. We certainly have enjoyed the mini job fairs and the connection we have in helping fill the talent pipeline to the Homestead. I’d like to thank our guest Jennifer Lorenzo for being on the podcast today and reflecting with us on the talent pipeline between vocational rehabilitation and the Omni Homestead.
Jenny Lorenzo: Thanks so much Rick.
Rick Sizemore: Well thanks for joining us for today’s show. All of our contact is located in the show notes at vrworkforcestudio.com. We’d love to hear from you. Until next time, I’m Rick Sizemore with the courageous stories of vocational rehabilitation.
Speaker 1: Support for the foundation’s production and distribution of the VR Workforce Studio comes from CVS health, Dominion Energy, the Virginia Manufacturers’ Association, and The Jessie Ball DuPont Fund.