Hope after lockup, a journey of recovery and vocational rehabilitation
National Clearinghouse for Rehabilitation Training Materials Report
This month, Cherie Takemoto shares resources from some of her favorite resources and highlighted the 100th Anniversary of VR site from the Rehabilitation Services Administration. Check out the VR Workforce Studio podcast from RSA Commissioner Mark Schultz from this site. Resources from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) |
Improving Cultural Competence. This manual for professional care providers and administrators describes the influence of culture on the delivery of substance use and mental health services. It discusses racial, ethnic, and cultural considerations, and presents the core elements of cultural competence.
Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series 57 This manual helps behavioral health professionals understand the impact of trauma on those who experience it. The manual discusses patient assessment, and treatment planning strategies. These strategies support recovery, and building a trauma-informed care workforce. Access the literature review.
Resources for Business Engagement
- Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) Resources
- Jobs Driven Technical Assistance Resources
- WorkforceGPS Resources
100 Years of Vocational Rehabilitation
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first federally funded program to assist people with disabilities who had not acquired their disabilities as a result of serving in the military.On June 2, 1920, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Smith-Fess Act of 1920, also known as the Industrial Rehabilitation Act and referred to as “The National Civilian Vocational Rehabilitation Act.”
Singer: VR Workforce Studio (singing
Bently Wood: Lawyer came in and said, “You’re in trouble.” I do not believe I would be sitting here if DARS hadn’t been there to help me.
Announcer: VR Workforce Studio, podcasting the sparks that ignite Vocational Rehabilitation through the inspiring stories of people with disabilities who have gone to work.
Jared Lem: Tech support, may I help you?
Rose Hilderbrand: I have a position at Masco Cabinetry.
Announcer: As well as the professionals who have helped them.
James Hall: A job, but a career. You’ve got to look at how life changing this is.
Announcer: And the businesses who have filled their talent pipelines with workers that happen to have disabilities.
Debby Hopkins: To help expand registered apprenticeship.
Announcer: These are their stories.
Megan Healy: Because there’s such a great story to tell about people with disabilities.
Announcer: And now here’s the host of the VR Workforce Studio, Rick Sizemore.
Rick Sizemore: Well, welcome to episode 79 of the VR Workforce Studio. It’s 2020, and we are celebrating. It’s the 100th anniversary of Vocational Rehabilitation this year. Well, on today’s show we talk with Katherine Henderson, who’s the senior project manager with the Greater Peninsula Workforce Board. She discusses the exciting partnership that they have with Vocational Rehabilitation. And in the big inspiration showcase today, it’s Bently Wood, a peer support specialist who works with the New River Valley Community Services Board. He’s with us to share his inspiring, courageous story of vocational rehabilitation. Welcome Bently.
Bently Wood: Oh, thank you. I really appreciate the opportunity to be here.
Rick Sizemore: Bently, tell us your story.
Bently Wood: I work as a certified and registered peer recovery specialist, and I spent much of my life using alcohol and other drugs to numb myself. I identify as a gay man, and at 23 years old to meet the needs of my family I chose to marry a woman. And I spent the next 22 years of my life miserable, and I used primarily alcohol during that time to I guess live with myself is the way I would put it now. And then when we separated, that’s when I went back to using drugs like I had used in my late teens and early twenties. And it didn’t take long for me to go from using drugs occasionally to using everything and anything I could get my hands on every day. And that continued until April 29th, 2016 when my house was raided, and I was taken to jail and a lawyer came in to see me and said, “You’re in trouble. Maximum guidelines on your charges are 270 years.” So he had my attention.
Rick Sizemore: That’s a wake up call.
Bently Wood: At that point, I have two daughters. The most difficult part of early recovery for me was voluntarily revoking my bond and going back to jail, because I had manufacturing charges, and the only way that I could get into drug court was not to have manufacturing charges. So I returned, I went back to jail. But I sat down with each of my two daughters and told them I was going back to jail and I didn’t know if or when I would ever get out again.
Rick Sizemore: That must’ve been difficult.
Bently Wood: Well it was, but I couldn’t have done that before my recovery journey started. So I ended up getting in drug court as the first participant in Montgomery County Treatment Drug Court, and started in May 10th of 2017, and graduated on February 22nd, 2019. And I started working for the local community service board, New River Valley Community Services as a peer trainee. I’ve been working there now, I started out working in a residential treatment facility and I currently work in our MAT, or a medically assisted treatment program working with clients individually who are using buprenorphine, which is Suboxone, to help manage their cravings and help them work on wellness plans and ways to have the same opportunity I did, which is to build a new life.
Rick Sizemore: Tell us how you got involved with Vocational Rehabilitation.
Bently Wood: Well, during the second time I was in jail, there was this person coming from this Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services, which I’d never heard of, and I’ve viewed it as an opportunity to get out of the cell. I applied, DARS provided me a lot of opportunity and I guess hope. And ironic that that’s also the name of my counselor within DARS. And she was extremely helpful. She made me believe that I could do more than what I was doing, and gave me some assurance that there are things that we can do to help.
Rick Sizemore: Take us back to the first meeting. What kind of things were going through your mind?
Bently Wood: It’s easy for things to get scattered in addition to, as the fog’s lifting, as the brain starts to recover from years and years of substance use disorder. Because at the end, my drug of choice was more. Didn’t matter what it was, as long as I had something to alter my mood or mind. I remember sharing that with Hope, and I didn’t feel judged. She connected with me in a way that felt genuine and authentic, and she began explaining the process. And we began working together and meeting monthly. And over time, I went to work, and then I started sharing with other people in recovery who DARS was and the help that they had given to me. It was really exciting for me to build that relationship in the beginning, which was built on hope and trust. One of the things about substance use disorder is no self-worth, no self-compassion, and belief that life is never going to be any better. Hope was a piece of me beginning to believe. I mean, there were lots of factors involved in my recovery, but my relationship with her was a supporting piece of beginning to find the belief in myself.
Rick Sizemore: Hope Bradbury works as a vocational rehabilitation counselor. What does it feel like to hear Bently describe the vocational rehabilitation process and his success now?
Hope Bradbury: Oh, I’m just so proud of Bently. Just seeing what he has done. He’s a great inspiration to others. Worked his way up to now helping people into the recovery process, and he is such a promoter of the positive side of things versus, so many people want to stigmatize and give negative labels to those who have addictions. So I’m just happy and grateful that he is there to promote the wellbeing of other people so they can live a successful life as well.
Rick Sizemore: What kind of things were you involved in with [crosstalk 00:00:07:07]?
Bently Wood: I guess the primary thing that I was involved in were just individual sessions, to be able to sit down and talk about what was going on in my life. And I think that’s what allowed the connection to happen to where Hope was able to understand where I was, what I wanted to do, and how she could help and be a part of my story. What I remember most about my experience with DARS, they bought me clothes when I started my job, when I didn’t have the money to buy new clothes. There were a couple of times when I had no money and gas cards gave me the money that I needed to get to work. I do not believe that I would be sitting here if DARS hadn’t been there to help me in the moments that I really needed that help.
Rick Sizemore: Tell us about your job today.
Bently Wood: Well, I guess it starts with an understanding that about 150 people die every day from an overdose. And when you include alcohol related statistics, that number goes up to almost 375. So I like to think of it as a small airplane falls out of the sky with people dying every day, and a large airplane falls out of the sky if you include alcohol, which unfortunately our society separates because it’s legal. But I get to share my story with people. The experiences that I had that often people ask me if I’m not ashamed of what happened. I’m like, “No, I’m sick.” Substance use disorder is a chronic brain disorder.
Bently Wood: It’s bio-psychosocial, and I believe that I have an understanding that I can share with people. Because for me, it began with believing that things could get better, and that came for me with an understanding of what was really going on. That I wasn’t a bad person, that I was a sick person who did a lot of bad things. And I’m able to share that experience with other people. I can connect with them because we share many of the same experiences. Whether you’re an 18 year old black female, a 24 year old college student, or in my case, a 56 year old man, the thing that connects us all is the brokenness that we’ve all experienced.
Rick Sizemore: Commonality brings you all together.
Bently Wood: Yes. For me, recovery is about finding the similarities and connecting with people.
Rick Sizemore: What’s your message to employers about hiring people with disabilities?
Bently Wood: First of all, is there anything is a sure bet that someone’s going to be a great employee? Is that ever the case? And what happened to me 10, 15, 20 years ago, what relevance does that have today? And so, felonies, criminal charges are a huge barrier. And many, many employers, there’s no room for discussion.
Rick Sizemore: But they’re having to rethink that in this environment. And so I think that’s why your message is so very, very important. Because we need workers.
Bently Wood: Right. I mean, why would someone not want to hire a survivor? Someone with ingenuity and with creativity, and who is fast thinking on their feet and who-
Rick Sizemore: Life experience.
Bently Wood: And who understands how to solve problems and do that with little or no resources. Employers need people in recovery, because resilience transcends everything. And many organizations need that. But they’re so hung up on what’s wrong, or what’s the past, that they’re unwilling I believe, unwilling to look at what’s possible in the future. I’m tired of being one of those people, because what brings us, common humanity, what makes us all the same is that we’re all broken. We all live imperfect lives.
Rick Sizemore: What is your message to people who may have not tried Vocational Rehabilitation who need help in finding a job and supports and a pathway forward?
Bently Wood: Right now I’m doing a lot of work with recovery ready communities and recovery organizations in order to help spread the word, which is why I’m willing to go talk to anyone anywhere who will listen to where… My message isn’t about the addiction. My message is about the recovery.
Rick Sizemore: Bently Wood is a certified peer recovery specialist working with New River Community Services, and Hope Bradbury is his Vocational Rehabilitation counselor with the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services at the Christiansburg office. Thank you both for being on the podcast today.
Hope Bradbury: Thank you.
Bently Wood: Thank you. I really appreciate the opportunity to be here. And without DARS, I don’t think I would be.
Rick Sizemore: Well, it’s 2020. That’s the 100th anniversary of Vocational Rehabilitation. It’s also the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Of course, both of those things are incredibly important to people with disabilities, their families and those of us who are fortunate enough to work in VR. Now there’s a new webpage out at RSA. It’s the VR 100 webpage. We’ll put links to that in our show notes. It’s filled with lots of news and information about this year’s celebrations. RSA commissioner Mark Schultz was on our podcast last month. That’s episode 78. It’s featured on the new VR 100 webpage. So check out his inspiring comments about VR turning 100, and what that means to us who help people with disabilities find a career pathway. Now, one of the ways we’re celebrating this year is to be involved in rerecording the VR National Anthem. Now, if you’ve not heard it, the original was written and recorded back in 2003 by Ralph Pacinelli, who is an absolute legend in VR, spent his entire life working to help people with disabilities gain employment.
Rick Sizemore: Now I’ve been talking with Ralph about the song, and by the way, he has a complete written history of the song and how it was written based on the words from Justin Dart, Lead On, Lead On VR. We’re going to make that written history available through the podcast later on this year. I talked with Ralph this week, and then I got this note in the mail, which absolutely made my day. It says, “Rick, thanks for what you’re doing for VR. I’m glad to be part of this project to enhance VR’s National Anthem and bring it into the modern era.” Now, one of the reasons we’re excited about the rerelease of this National Anthem for VR is that it’s being performed by George Dennehy. Now, George is a former VR client, a nationally recognized motivational speaker, and quite frankly, he’s an internet sensation. I’m going to put links to George’s videos and his website in our show notes.
Rick Sizemore: Now, George, if you don’t know him, was born without arms, and yet he plays the guitar with his feet and he sings. He’s toured with the Goo Goo Dolls, and now performs all across the country with his inspiring message and song. Now here’s the cool part. VR National Anthem will be released in iTunes and on this podcast again later this year as a song, but it’s also going to be a music video in YouTube. So if you or your family have videos or pictures you’d like to submit, we have a limited number of spaces in the video to feature shots of people with disabilities on the job working. Just send those to firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line VR song pics. Now here’s the catch. I need them by March 1st. You could be featured in the video. Again, send those to email@example.com subject line VR song pics, and maybe you too could be involved in this exciting venture to rerelease the VR National Anthem.
Rick Sizemore: Katherine Henderson brings a wealth of experience to the role of being senior project manager at the Greater Peninsula Workforce Board, and we are thrilled and delighted to welcome Katherine to the podcast.
- Henderson: Hi.
Rick Sizemore: Welcome Katherine. First time on the podcast, so this is a great day for you.
- Henderson: Yeah, I’m nervous. I’m a little excited.
Rick Sizemore: Don’t be nervous. This is just fun. By the time we finish, you’re going to say, “Oh, I want to do that again.”
- Henderson: Probably.
Rick Sizemore: And we’re excited. So you’re the one-stop operator focused on a lot of the key issues around career pathways, Targeted Communities. You want to start with one of your success stories?
- Henderson: It does really highlight how integrated resource teams can come together to address those unique situations that are lot of the clients find themselves in. We had a client, she started the treatment program, everything was going well, finished the training, and then notified her counselor that she was now homeless and pregnant. And as we know, it’s Virginia.
Rick Sizemore: Life happens.
- Henderson: Yeah, and it’s winter. So she had been sleeping in her car and didn’t have appropriate clothing, didn’t have food every day, and it just was a concerning situation. So as soon as we knew what her full array of needs were, we would reach out to other community organizations. DARS was really quick to respond, as were the counselors, and a lot of the organizations that we had met through our Community Academies, which was an event held under the Targeted Communities grant. We were able to reach out, and within hours we had her a place to stay through one of our women’s shelters, the food pantry had provided her with immediate food so that it was covering the time between when she could get back onto SNAP, and one of our medical centers in Williamsburg, which is local, was able to start getting her in for OB services to make sure that there were no other concerns that we should be focusing on with her unborn child. So now she’s got all the support she needs in a safe and stable environment so that she can focus on studying so she can take her certification for her training.
Rick Sizemore: That’s awesome. How did the Peninsula Workforce Board connect with Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services? Could you tell us about the partnership that you enjoy in all of this work that you’re doing?
- Henderson: So under WIOA, the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act, I’m sure most of you guys are familiar with that-
Rick Sizemore: We love WIOA.
- Henderson: DARS is our mandated partner, but you can tell people that they have to work together. Doesn’t mean they’re always going to do it willingly. But we’ve been very blessed. DARS, our local office is actually just right down the street. So when these grants came up, as we got them, I was still very new. I took the time just to kind of go and ask questions, and what are they about, what do you guys do, how do you serve them? And then through that, kind of realized that our one-stop operators, the comprehensive job center, didn’t have some of the software or maybe some of the equipment, or we just didn’t know how to interact with some people with disabilities or the hidden disabilities. And it was great to reach out and say, “Well, we want to learn. We want to be able to serve your clients better.” If they come to us, we want to be that doorway as well to say, “Hey, do you know about DARS? Do you know how they could help you?” We can’t make assumptions that people know things. You don’t know what you don’t know, and it’s our job to help them know where all forms of help are.
Rick Sizemore: In this key role of the workforce board, of course, you’re focused on the region and helping fill the talent pipelines. I’m curious, because our audience is very interested in people with disabilities going to work, how they find and sustain employment. What’s your take in this important role that you play on individuals with disabilities contributing to the pipeline of talent that’s needed to run Virginia business?
- Henderson: Everyone has talents.
Rick Sizemore: That’s so true.
- Henderson: And the diversity of it is what makes the world go round. And through my life challenges and the things that I’ve faced, that makes me more sympathetic or understanding in the workforce. And those unique life experiences or the challenges that people with disabilities face can make them more sympathetic to the people or the businesses or the clients that they’re involved with. And that’s just something that we can’t overlook. That’s a skill set that can’t be taught. And it’s our job as workforce board and through our partnerships to help educate businesses. Don’t overlook this valuable talent that’s sitting in front of you. We know that unemployment’s low and everyone’s looking for the talent and it’s a competition. It’s like it’s right here. Here it is. With a few accommodations, valuable, valuable, untapped talent.
Rick Sizemore: 60 million people in this country have at least one disability. And so it’s a huge pool of individuals that can contribute to the talent pipeline that we really need. Megan Healy, Chief Workforce Officer for the Commonwealth, one of the comments she said was, “If we can’t fill the needs of business, they will leave.”
- Henderson: Exactly.
Rick Sizemore: And yet we have this tremendous pool of talent that’s available for that purpose, and it’s exciting to see the potential of the workforce board reaching out and embracing this opportunity.
- Henderson: Oh, and we’re excited to do it. I’m new to the area, so it was very exciting to see how open a lot of the industries and business organizations are, and the great partnerships in the region, and the amazing things that DARS is doing as well, and with those partnerships to educate and then show them. The champions event that we had recently really opened up my eyes to what the businesses are doing, and providing just sometimes it’s the smallest of accommodations, but it means so much to that person.
- Henderson: And then they go above and beyond because it’s like, “You gave me a chance, so let me show you what I can do. Let me show you how we can shine together.” And it’s great. It’s great.
Rick Sizemore: Yeah. I’ve been in this business almost 35 years in Vocational Rehabilitation, and one of the myths is that an accommodation is going to cost a business a fortune. “Oh, we don’t want to get involved with that, because it’s going to cost us an arm and a leg.” And if you talk to CEOs and HR managers, and this isn’t a data point, this is not a fact, but it is something that I hear over and over and over. Our average accommodation is probably less than $500.
- Henderson: We spend so much money in other ways for our talent that, I mean, sometimes it’s just a new chair, or it’s just the level of the desk. And between people leaving because they’re not comfortable or they can’t sustain it, and then you have to go through the whole hiring process again, and you end up saving yourself money. A small accommodation that’s $50, $100, and then you create that relationship with your employees. They’re not just a number, they’re not just a person.
Rick Sizemore: They’re invested.
- Henderson: Exactly. You’ve created a loyalty with that company. You care about me and I care about you. So there’s a saying, the appreciated worker will always go above and beyond, or do more than what is expected.
Rick Sizemore: Say that one more time.
- Henderson: An appreciated worker will usually go above and beyond what is expected of them.
Rick Sizemore: Well, in my experience, that’s true.
- Henderson: And it’s been my experience as well. I’ve had some great leaders that when they can, help you out or do something extra for you, and they do. The late hours or something comes up and they need it done, you never mind doing that because you know that they’re going to appreciate the work. It’s not expected. It’s not like, “We pay you to be here.” It’s, “I understand this is cutting into your schedule. I understand this is more than what’s expected, but if you help me out, I don’t mind helping you out when I can,” or, “We just really appreciate the work.” And that’s been the person I’ve worked the hardest for.
Rick Sizemore: Yeah, exactly. Talk about some of the specific things that the program has been focusing on.
- Henderson: So we’ve done a lot of community cross training. So we held, through the Targeted Communities grant, a two day training that went through the Medicaid expansion within Virginia and some of the requirements for that, the social security training, the myths about that. As soon as you start working in full-time employment, your social security doesn’t just turn off. David Leon and them came in and did that training, and it really opened our eyes, because they also touched on how the socioeconomic situation of clients will affect some of the financial decisions that they make. We’ve also done, I had mentioned the Community Academies, and that was bringing organizations together all over our local area, so that would be our seven localities, to really talk about what they do, who they serve, and what their success metrics are.
- Henderson: And we assume that we know what people do, you assume that you know what DARS does, or what the Virginia Career Works does, or the VEC and other local communities’ community organizations, but then you realize through different state grants that their eligibilities will change, that their programs will change, the requirements can change and sometimes they get something special, and they can create what they want it to look like. So we need to keep cross training so that we understand how they can help, who they can help, and keep updated on that. Plus you want to foster those relationships before there’s a need. That way when there’s a need, it’s streamlined. It’s fast. It’s no longer, “I’m calling DARS,” it’s, “I’m calling Marjorie down the way to get immediate help.” And that’s what happened when we were serving the client that was homeless. It wasn’t, “I’m calling DARS.” It’s like, “I know, I’m going to call Margie,” and I know that Margie’s as invested in this person’s successes as we are. And that’s what a lot of these cross trainings and education events that we hold right now are all in, in ending up with us knowing how we can work together and braid those resources to serve our clients best.
Rick Sizemore: Katherine Henderson with the Peninsula Workforce Development Board. It’s so nice to have you on the podcast. Thank you for what you’re doing for individuals with disabilities and best of luck.
- Henderson: Thank you so much.
Rick Sizemore: It’s time for our National Clearing House report with Cherie Takemoto. Welcome to the podcast, Cherie.
Cherie Takemoto: Hey.
Rick Sizemore: So what’d you think of Bently’s story?
Cherie Takemoto: I think it’s terrific, and it’s nice that you’re highlighting such an important topic. As you know, substance use disorder and working in VR with substance use disorder is its own category. I’m sharing some resources from the substance abuse and mental health administration, or SAMHSA’s website.
Rick Sizemore: And Katherine Henderson down at the Peninsula Workforce Board doing some excellent work.
Cherie Takemoto: Yes, and to tie that in, we have some resources from CSAVR’s national employment team from Cathy West Evans. Happy anniversary to VR this year.
Rick Sizemore: 100.
Cherie Takemoto: Yes, 100, and it was wonderful to hear episode 78 commissioner Mark Schultz’s piece up.
Rick Sizemore: He’s awesome isn’t he?
Cherie Takemoto: Yes. So I’m sharing the link to RSAs VR 100 website, and did I hear something about VR’s National Anthem coming up?
Rick Sizemore: The rerelease of the National Anthem for VR will be on this podcast later this year.
Cherie Takemoto: That’s wonderful.
Rick Sizemore: Well thank you so much Cherie.
Cherie Takemoto: Thank you, Rick.
Rick Sizemore: Thank you Cherie. You can find contact information for today’s guests as well as links and resources for the National Clearing House in our show notes at vrworkforcestudio.com. Well, I’d like to thank all of today’s guests, and hope you’ve enjoyed the show as much as we have. It means the world to us that you take time out of your busy schedule to listen to these podcasts. Now, here’s Lynn Harris, executive director of the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center Foundation.
Lynn Harris: The foundation is so pleased to bring you these exciting stories of how Vocational Rehabilitation is changing people’s lives by helping them gain the skills and credentials they need to be successful in business and industry. We thank all of our partners in podcasting who made this episode possible. Able Now, Aladdin Foods, Career Pathways for Individuals with Disabilities, the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation, CVS Health, Dominion Energy, the Hershey Company, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, United Bank, the Virginia Manufacturers’ Association, and Wells Fargo. If you’d like to join us in supporting vocational rehabilitation, you can find out more by visiting us at wwrcf.org or find our contact information in the show notes at vrworkforcestudio.com.
Rick Sizemore: Thank you Lynn. Until next time, I’m Rick Sizemore inviting you to join us as we podcast the sparks that ignite Vocational Rehabilitation. The VR Workforce Studio Podcast is owned and operated by the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center Foundation. The foundation publishes and distributes the VR Workforce Studio and manages all sponsor arrangements. Audio content for the podcast is provided to the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center Foundation by the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services in exchange for promotional considerations.