Episode 114 VR Workforce Studio

This job was made for me, the Kim Roberts story of vocational rehabilitation and business engagement as we celebrate rehabilitation counselor appreciation day

National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials

The NCRTM Business Engagement page is a new feature of the National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials (NCRTM) website. The Business Engagement page offers employers and businesses valuable information and resources about hiring individuals with disabilities.

Businesses can learn about the diverse and talented pool of qualified job seekers with disabilities and how they can successfully bring skills and talents to the workplace.

The new page contains information for every phase of the employment process including hiring, retaining, and advancing individuals with disabilities, as well as resources regarding creating inclusive and accessible workplaces and job accommodations.

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) counselors can use the Business Engagement page as a tool to connect employers to resources and support their customers on the job.

Individuals with disabilities can find useful information to understand the business practices leading to finding, maintaining, and advancing in employment.

We encourage listeners to follow us on Twitter @RSA_NCRTM where we are featuring highlights and resources from the new Business Engagement page throughout March.


VR Workforce Singers:  VR Workforce Studio.

Kim Roberts:  And then, just they called me that day and I still feel like I was… I’m gonna start to cry. That this was made for me. These people need somebody that cares about them.

Jake Hart:  Four, three, two, one. VR Workforce Studio, podcasting the sparks that ignite vocational rehabilitation through the inspiring stories of people with disabilities who have gone to work.

Flora Frazier:  Working in a field that I understand.

Jake Hart:  As well as the professionals who have helped them.

James Hall:  A job and a career, you got to look at how life-changing this is.

Jake Hart:  And the businesses who have filled their talent pipelines with workers that happen to have disabilities.

Debby Hopkins:  To help expand registered apprenticeship.

Jake Hart:  These are their stories.

Megan Healy:  Because there’s such a great story to tell about people with disabilities.

Jake Hart:  Now, here are the hosts of the VR Workforce Studio, Rick Sizemore and Betsy Civilette.

Rick Sizemore:  Betsy, we have a jam-packed show today as we celebrate rehabilitation counselor appreciation, and business engagement. The big inspiration showcase, it’s the story of Kim Roberts.

VR Workforce Singers:  Big, big. Inspiration. Big, big, big, big. Inspiration.

Betsy Civilette:  Yes, Kim found her way into a great job as a receptionist through vocational rehabilitation. She joins us now from Old Dominion Rehabilitation and Nursing in Newport News, Virginia. Welcome to the podcast, Kim.

Kim Roberts:  Thank you. I’m glad to be here.

Betsy Civilette:  Well, Kim, tell us about your exciting new job at Old Dominion.

Kim Roberts:  Just one day she called me up and she said, “I got Larry on the other line and I think this job would be perfect for you.” And she called him up and we went, you know, together on the phone, and he was asking me questions and everything and he goes, “Let me call them right now and see if I can do it, and they can get your application and your resume, and everything get done in there.” I got hired that next day.

Betsy Civilette:  Wow! That’s amazing.

Kim Roberts:  It’s been great. I love it. I love talking to the people. The only thing that gets to me every once in a while is that phone.

Rick Sizemore:  Yeah.

Kim Roberts:  It’s like non-stop.


Rick Sizemore:  Never, never stops.

Kim Roberts:  It doesn’t, it doesn’t discourage me, you know? It does… I get one right after the other. And they looked at me and they were going, “How are you doing that?” I’m like, “I just say hello, talk to them, and let them talk and enjoy, be relaxed, and just do it.”

Rick Sizemore:  Kim, let’s clarify a couple people. You mentioned Larry and Lisa. So, we’re really excited about your story of vocational rehabilitation. We learned about you from this fellow you referred to as Larry.

Kim Roberts:  Mm-hmm.

Rick Sizemore:  Larry Rios, who’s a placement counselor with our agency.

Kim Roberts:  Yeah.

Rick Sizemore:  And Lisa Perry, who was your vocational…

Kim Roberts:  Yeah.

Rick Sizemore:  Rehabilitation counselor. Tell us how this interest really developed in Old Dominion. You mentioned that there was a phone call that… How did you get interested in, in, or how did they connect with Old Dominion?

Kim Roberts:  Well, I think Old Dominion works with Larry and, I don’t know about Lisa, but he does work with Larry. And they hire a lot of people to do the volunteer work, to help them with the little things that they need help with. And really I was supposed to go into medical records and help scan the records because it was so far behind and he felt that, you know, I could do that being, you know, an office position before. But I’ve been on disability for over ten years and I just needed to get out of the house. I was always on the computer looking for something, doing something, and just nothing. I was getting really, really discouraged and then just they called me that day. And I still feel like I was… Ooh, I’m gonna start to cry.


Kim Roberts:  That this was made for me, for this job…


Rick Sizemore:  Yeah, go ahead, Kim. Tell us more about that. You, you feel like this job was, it was just destined to, for you to be in it.

Kim Roberts:  Yes, yes it was because these people need somebody that cares about them. And I have so much love for everybody. I’m sorry.

Rick Sizemore:  No. It, it sounds like such an inspiring story. You were at home, you were feeling…

Kim Roberts:  Yeah.

Rick Sizemore:  Defeated. Not able to find a job and, and so you made this connection. You’ve moved into employment and it…

Kim Roberts:  Yep.

Rick Sizemore:  You know, you stole my next question. Was…


Rick Sizemore:  What was your life like before you connected with DARS? Maybe you tell us a little more about that.

Kim Roberts:  Well, I was in New York with my daughters. I couldn’t move out of New York at the time and I came here… Well, once I did, was able to move out of New York ‘cause they were 18 and on their own, that I came here to stay with my mom. So, I was staying with my mom for those ten years. Just trying to help her out and, you know, just keep company for her and a reprieve for me to relax and not have to be stressed out about kids and grandkids. But, I just, one day… Well, let’s see, I, I’ve been with DARS like for three years with Lisa and they did testing with me and everything. I mean, the one lady pulled me out of the testing and says, “You don’t have to go on. You hit 100 on everything.” She goes, “I don’t even know why you’re here.” I said, “But I’m on disability. I need the vocational help because I can’t do it by myself.” So, that’s when Lisa called me up and said, “I think I got something for you,” and we did it that day. I mean, not even two hours and they were calling me to come in on Monday. For two weeks, for the, you know, volunteering until they finally said, “We’re gonna hire you.” Said the girl gave her notice at the receptionist and they said, You’d be perfect for it.”

Betsy Civilette:  That’s fabulous, Kim. Really glad that this is worked out for you. Could you tell us just a little bit more about your, your disability?

Kim Roberts:  Well, I have a lot. I take a lot of medications for depression, anxiety, migraines, fibromyalgia, arthritis. You name it, I got it. Carpal tunnel, I have everything. But, I don’t let that pull me back from where I am. I give my 100% or 200% here but when I go home that’s when I’m suffering because I start to relax and don’t worry about anything.

Betsy Civilette:  Well, things seem to be going really well for you at Old Dominion and is there anything that they are doing to support you as a person with a disability?

Kim Roberts:  Oh well, I couldn’t walk… Our time clock used to be from the front, you’d walk in but have to go all the way to the back of the facility to punch in your time in your time clock. And at that time I was helping put people, the new people’s time into the clock, because that’s how we do it and I would have to walk at least ten times that day going back and forth from the reception in the front all the way to the back of the time clock. And my, my hips were killing me. I just couldn’t do it anymore and I said to the new administrator that we got, I love her and I love my new DOM, they’re great and they listen to you and they help do results. She brought that time clock just near my desk and everybody else liked it too because they didn’t have to walk and forget about clocking in and fixing everything. So, it worked out perfect that she listened to me and did it for me.

Rick Sizemore:  Yeah I want to talk about Lisa and some things that she said. But before we get there, how many switchboard operators or receptionists do they have at Old Dominion?

Kim Roberts:  Just me and Sabrina and we’re, she, she’s in a wheelchair.

Rick Sizemore:  Okay, so it’s just the, the two of you, and you greet all the guests and take care of the phones, and, and manage the incoming flow of traffic into the facility?

Kim Roberts:  Yes, sir.

Rick Sizemore:  Anything else?

Kim Roberts:  We make sure they sign in. Yeah, I do transportation, I make appointments, I take care of half of HR right now. In fact, like everybody comes in, the families come in and they say, “You wear ten hats, girl. How do you do it?” I said, “I just do it because it has to be done.”

Rick Sizemore:  It sounds, it sounds like it. Well, again, we talked to Lisa Perry…

Kim Roberts:  Yeah.

Rick Sizemore:  Your vocational rehabilitation counselor and she said this, “Kim is just awesome.” She said, “Right out of the gate, she was motivated, she never stopped pushing forward and she kept on moving till she got into the job at Old Dominion.” What gave you the motivation to keep pushing forward into this great new job that you have?

Kim Roberts:  Well, I figured I just needed to get my foot in the door and prove to them that I could do it. Because a lot of people look at my disability, they look at what I’ve done, I’ve been off for ten years and they don’t want to touch me. So, I told them, I said, “Just give me a chance.” I said, “I can prove myself that I can do it,” and they did.

Betsy Civilette:  Well, that’s wonderful, Kim. What is the one thing that you’d like to share with others with disabilities about your path to employment and what it was like working with DARS?

Kim Roberts:  Don’t ever give up. Don’t ever give up ‘cause it will be there for you.

Betsy Civilette:  That’s awesome. You said, “Give me a chance.” I love that.

Kim Roberts:  Yeah, yeah.

Betsy Civilette:  ‘Cause so many people, that’s all they need. Volunteering, you said you volunteered? Is that just…

Kim Roberts:  Yep, yep, I volunteered from the middle of June all the way to July 11th. In the beginning, from the middle of June to July 11th, I worked for nothing.

Rick Sizemore:  Well Kim, Old Dominion has hired, as you said, several people with disabilities, and to a…

Kim Roberts:  Yep. Yep.

Rick Sizemore:  Variety of different positions. What would you want an employer, who’s never hired someone with a disability, to know about vocational rehabilitation? And how that’s benefited you?

Kim Roberts:  Well, like I said, they have to give us a chance to prove that we can do it. No matter with our disabilities or not. We’re just like everybody else. We want to work, we want to make money, you know, we got lives, and bills to pay, and everything, kids to take care of, you know. You can’t hold that against us and not, not give us a chance without knowing who we are and what we do and inside of our head, our mind, and our heart.

Rick Sizemore:  I wanna, I wanna get into an area, if you don’t feel comfortable, you don’t have to answer this question, but…

Kim Roberts:  Mm-hmm.

Rick Sizemore:  You were receiving some type of disability benefits before you got involved with this new job?

Kim Roberts:  Oh, yeah. I’ve been on disability for ten years, SSD.

Rick Sizemore:  Is this job gonna help you transition off of those benefits?

Kim Roberts:  I’m able to have it for nine months after I started working, to keep my Medicare. Which I need because of my medication.

Rick Sizemore:  So, are you planning to eventually leave behind the Social Security benefits and be in a self-sustaining role with your job?

Kim Roberts:  Oh, yeah. I know I’ve got until April. I’ve been stacking my money away like, my one counselor, I can’t remember his name but he did, he did, he did the chart and everything to say how many hours I can work without losing it, to keep it still. He told me to sock it away and put it in a savings account.

 Betsy Civilette:  Did you receive any financial training or advisement? You, you talked about getting off benefits. Like, ticket to work, a program like that?

Kim Roberts:  I’m on ticket to work and they also helped me with the gas in the beginning because I, I, you don’t get paid for two weeks. So, I wasn’t getting paid for like three weeks before I got anything. But, Lisa always had a gas card for me.

Rick Sizemore:  How does it feel to be moving into a more independent mode in your life?

Kim Roberts:  Feels great! At least I can do something, I don’t have to worry, because I was worried before.

Rick Sizemore:  That is so cool. That, that is absolutely cool.

Kim Roberts:  Mm-hmm.

Rick Sizemore:  And, and Larry Rios.

Kim Roberts:  Yes.

Rick Sizemore:  We got to talk about Larry. How did he help in this process?


Kim Roberts:  He keeps me motivated. I, I wasn’t going to try for this one position that was here ‘cause we lost our business office manager. And supposedly in the beginning, I was the assistant business office manager, which I call A-BOM. I’m like, “Yep, I’m a bomb,” and we joke about it. But, I don’t know, it, I wasn’t gonna do it and then Larry convinced me last week and gave me encouragement and everything to do it. He says, “I know you can do it.” I said, “I know I can do it too but, but I don’t have a business degree and that’s what they’re requiring.” I said, “I have 40 years behind me of work experience and on, you know, life training.” And they got somebody with a business degree. And I said, “It’s fine. I love my job, I want my job anyways.”

Rick Sizemore:  Right.

Kim Roberts:  I said, “It’s not discouraging me.”


Rick Sizemore:  Well, Larry has helped a lot of people get into the workforce.

Kim Roberts:  Yep.

Rick Sizemore:  What, what was it like working with him?

Kim Roberts:  Great. He, he’s, he’s there for you, he helps you, backs you up. And if anything’s going wrong, like sometimes some of the people are having problems and not understanding. He comes in and he helps counsel them more and help them get passed it and work at what he needs, they need to work at. So, he’s always there for us, no matter if I’m, I’m on the contract or not.

Betsy Civilette:  Kim, thank you for sharing your story with us today and we wish you the best of luck in your position at Old Dominion. It sounds like you are rocking it.

Kim Roberts:  Oh, yeah. They, the families love me. I mean, they, they gave me presents and everything at Christmas time.


Kim Roberts:  I said, I wasn’t expecting it but they just gave me, you know, gift cards, and presents, and everything.

Rick Sizemore:  Thank you, Kim. Kim Roberts is the lead receptionist at Old Dominion Rehabilitation and Nursing in Newport News, Virginia.

Kim Roberts:  Yeah, thank you.

Betsy Civilette:  March 22nd is Rehabilitation Counselor Appreciation Day and we are lucky to welcome our own, Dale, “D.D.,” Batton to the podcast. D.D. leads the Division of Rehabilitative Services at DARS. Welcome, D.D.

Dale Batton:  Thank you, Betsy. Glad to be with you.

Rick Sizemore:  D.D., the DARS system has thousands of people with disabilities involved in vocational rehabilitation. Helping people with disabilities move into the workforce and at the heart of this extraordinary effort is the vocational rehabilitation counselor. As you lead this effort, what is your message to our vocational rehabilitation counselors on Rehabilitation Counselor Appreciation Day?

Dale Batton:  Rick, you are correct. Our rehabilitation counselors are extraordinary. We appreciate so much their dedication to this important work and their innovation to address the of myriad of challenging circumstances that sometimes emerge when helping clients reach their goal. But most of all, we cherish their sincerity, their humbleness, and their devotion to this important work. They apply their time and talents to make a difference in our customer’s lives. They help people change their lives and reach their potential. From the bottom of my heart thank you and happy Rehabilitation Counselor Appreciation Day to each and every one of you.

Betsy Civilette:  Dale Batton is Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Rehabilitative Services for Virginia DARS.

Betsy Civilette:  As our podcast continues, we welcome Renee Lagarde, the talent acquisition director for Old Dominion, and Jillene Whitenack, regional operations director, who was instrumental in working with DARS to bring Kim Roberts onboard. So, let’s welcome to the podcast Renee and Jillene.

Renee Lagarde:  Thank you.

Jillene Whitenack:  Thank you.

Rick Sizemore:  We’re very excited about this story, Kim Roberts, and what, what’s occurring in the work with DARS. But, Jillene, would you give us a quick overview for Old Dominion Nursing and Rehabilitation?

Jillene Whitenack:  Old Dominion is one of nine centers in the Hampton Roads market that operates as a skilled nursing facility and long-term care center. For people who need, elderly, sometimes disabled, our population has changed over the years. But, we serve people in the community who cannot live at home independently and who need medical monitoring, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There’s 115 beds there and it has been there for some time serving that community. It’s a great little place, it’s tucked back in the woods right by the hospital there. And they’ve got a really good team over there and so we were excited about having Kim onboard as well.

Betsy Civilette:  How did your relationship with DARS emerge?

Renee Lagarde:  Tina Wearing had introduced us. Jillene brought it to me and I said, “Yeah, you know, let’s, let’s do it!” We got Larry involved into all the centers, introducing him to administrators, start internships almost immediately after meeting Larry, into all the centers. And Larry actually approached me and said, would I be willing to take a internship for administrative assistant. And I said, “Sure, I’ll do it,” and actually his name is, it’s Kyle Assay. He came on as administrative assistant, interning with me and he has been offered a position with us as our travel pool supervisor, overseeing our travel pool that we have. And he’s a wonderful asset to our team. I know we have somebody in another building doing medical records. We have quite a few people in Old Dominion. They’re scattered around in all of our buildings and we’re always, you know, when a position opens up, ancillary position opens up, we automatically call Larry and say, “Hey, we have this position available, you know, what do you have…”

Rick Sizemore:  He is a fellow who is filled with energy and loves creating these connections when opportunities like this exist. Renee, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people with disabilities are underemployed when compared to the general population and yet we continue to hear stories about the struggles that business and industry filling their talent pipelines. What does all this mean to you a person who is looking, at least in part, to people with disabilities to make up their workforce?

Renee Lagarde:  Shame on them for not utilizing this program. I think we’ve all learned something from this program, in Eastern Healthcare Group. Everybody, you know, we’re, we are fully onboard, all of our administrators know about the program, our DONs. We’re actually going out to the Woodrow Wilson (Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center) to do a tour of our; the owners, myself, Jillene, because we wanna look at the CNA schools, the CNA school, the LPN school. We wanna offer clinicals, we wanna expand even more because we also have centers on the west side of Virginia which is closer, some… We’re very excited to expand. I think in our company, you know, every, everybody’s the same. As Larry has introduced me, a disability is the size of an encyclopedia.


Renee Lagarde:  There’s many different disabilities. You know, I can honestly say, me and Jillene we talking yesterday and we were like, “We don’t even know what Kim Roberts disability is.” For us, it’s just people that are looking to get into the job force and what can we do to help them.

Rick Sizemore:  Yeah, we hear that theme repeated over and over that employers really don’t care about the disability. They care if an individual can do the work and the disability really is secondary to that and yet it enriches the, the workforce in such a powerful way. Betsy?

Betsy Civilette:  Right, as we say here at DARS, we put ability to work, and focus on their abilities and, and, and not the disability. So, tell us a little bit more, Jillene or Renee, about Kim Roberts and, and the work she does because we know she had not worked for ten years and this opportunity really just made a huge difference in her life.

Jillene Whitenack:  The funny thing is about Kim Roberts is, she came on board with us as a receptionist, right? So, we had a lot of difficulty finding reliable coverage for like weekends and evenings to man the front desk, answer telephones, direct people who are coming in to visit. And so, that’s really where she started and I, I’m not sure how we got the information but we did find out that she had some background in like business office management or payroll positions. And so, when we had the opportunity for the assistant business office manager came up, it was kind of like a great fit like she already had the experience. She was already doing an excellent job in the role that she was currently in and so it was a no-brainer. So, we, to just move her into that role.

Rick Sizemore:  Yeah, it’s a, it’s exciting when it happens and it works so well to see this unfold. Renee, what suggestions would you have for people with disabilities? Many of them and their families listen to this podcast. But, what would, what would your advice be to someone with a disability who might want to work at Old Dominion?

Renee Lagarde:  Definitely reach out to us. But don’t give up. I know there, there are lots of letdowns. But I can say that, and I think Jillene can agree with me, it is taught us something, as a company. Don’t give up until you find the right fit, keep trying because there is somebody out there who is gonna give you the opportunity.

Betsy Civilette:  Well, that’s what it’s all about, yes. The opportunities and I know all the folks that work for you appreciate having that, that chance to, to show the, you know, to show their work and shine. We were fortunate to talk with the CEO of Eastern Healthcare Group, Akiva Shapiro, who had this to say about Old Dominion’s involvement with DARS and hiring people with disabilities.

Akiva Shapiro:  When I was about, I’d say 17 or 18 years old, I took my first job working weekends with, in a group home. Here in Rockland County called Chesed 24, and I worked with individuals with disabilities. I was a, I took them on trips on Sundays and, and Saturdays, and some of them were incapable of, of holding jobs. But some of were and, and part of what I did was, was actually take them to their jobs and drop them off and, and, and many of them were very successful. So, when I heard about this program, I, I had seen firsthand that if properly guided and nourished, these people really can, can, can help you and, and they can help themselves. And then, what I can tell you is that when Jillene brought this program to my attention and had me meet Larry, I loved what I heard. And I can tell you that with, with Kim Roberts’ story being exceptional, almost everyone that we have hired from your program has been a smashing success. And what makes Eastern Healthcare Group different than the other companies is that we will take these changes on things that we think will work and things that we like. Many times we’ve succeeded and this is a, a, been a successful program for us. I still go to that same supermarket that I drop this guy off at all those years ago, and he’s still there working. He’s still doing his thing. They drop him off every morning and he, he does his own thing and I even saw one guy lately that I believe went and moved out into his own apartment and does not only his own thing at work but his own thing in life these days. So, it’s really, it, it, it’s, it’s really amazing. A, a disability is just, I only call it just a name, it’s, it’s just a, maybe even just an idea and if, if you put your mind past your, you know… I don’t, I don’t think anything has to hold anybody back.

Rick Sizemore:  Any final reflections about this experience of bringing Kim Roberts and, and many other people with disabilities in, into Old Dominion? Jillene, any final thoughts?

Jillene Whitenack:  Yeah. I just want to say that I have, I’ve really come to see the light of the, the benefit to us. You know, it was funny because when I was first approached with it, I viewed it as, “Well yeah, we’ll help them out, you know. We’ll provide a place from them to, to maybe put some of their people, or do some internships, or.” So, I kind of viewed it from the terms of us providing something. But it has really become a valuable resource for us, you know. Everybody’s got challenges in the labor market and, and it’s one of our go-to things that I use now. “Well, let’s call Larry. Let’s see if he has anybody.” So, it really, my perspective on the role that they play in, in our organization has changed dramatically. It’s, it’s something that I, I’m almost a little selfish about it. I don’t want to let anybody else know about it because I’m like we got such a great thing here!

Rick Sizemore:  Well, that’s awesome.

Jillene Whitenack:  But, yeah. We’re almost even looking at, you know, creating positions that can accommodate individuals that are coming through the program. ‘Cause, you know, we, we look at talent all the time and how we can utilize talent and so it’s just a, it’s another venue for us to get talent that really has been valuable. So I do appreciate it.

Rick Sizemore:  Yeah. Yeah. Well, don’t hold back because in any given year DARS could be working with upwards of 20,000 different individuals across this state that have disabilities. Helping sometimes 4,000 of those move into the workforce. So, it’s, it’s a significant effort underway to help business and to partner with business and industry to fill their, their talent pipelines. Renee, any concluding thoughts?

Renee Lagarde:  Well, exactly what Jillene said, and just like you said, we’re helping… They’re helping us, we’re not helping… I think as we get more into the program, I don’t see it as us utilizing them, I think they’re teaching us. You know, the people that are coming through the program are teaching us something. So, it’s a huge stepping stone for us, as people without disabilities to be able to look into the life of somebody with a disability and, you know, how it’s, you know, it’s hard for them to get it a job, it’s hard for people with a disability to do many things and we’re learning from that. That’s what I take from it. I learn from Kyle every day, ‘cause I work side by side with him. And Larry has asked me, you know, to take on another intern and I said, “Just give me a little bit of time but I will take, you know, I will intern somebody else very soon.” So, to me it, it, it’s special to me because I’m learning from them.

Betsy Civilette:  Well, thank you both for joining us today. We appreciate your sharing your experience with the clients that you have hired.

Jillene Whitenack:  Thank you.

Renee Lagarde:  Thank you.

Rick Sizemore:  Renee Lagarde is the Director of Talent Acquisition. Jillene Whitenack is the Director of Operations. Both are with the Eastern Healthcare Group which is the parent organization of Old Dominion Rehabilitation and Nursing, located in Newport News.

Rick Sizemore:  March 22nd is Rehabilitation Counselor Appreciation Day. The VR Workforce Studio salutes Kim Roberts VR counselor, Lisa Perry has been serving people with disabilities since 2005.

Lisa Perry:  And I have enjoyed every minute of it. Yes, I love what I do. I love helping my clients, especially like clients like Kim Roberts, you know. She, she’s wonderful to work with.

Rick Sizemore:  Well, it’s time for our National Clearinghouse with the always entertaining and informative Heather Servais. Welcome to the podcast, Heather.

Heather Servais:  Hi, Rick. It’s good to be back with you.

Rick Sizemore:  You want to talk about business engagement.

Heather Servais:  I sure do. You know, listening to Kim’s story and learning all about Old Dominion, we love to hear stories about businesses working with their local VR agencies to hire individuals with disabilities. And this month we are really proud to talk about our new page on the NCRTM. Which is our Business Engagement page. And this Business Engagement page offers employers and businesses information and resources about hiring individuals with disabilities. So it connects employers with their local VR agencies in their state and then they can also learn about the diverse and talented pool of qualified job seekers that have disabilities and how they can bring their skills and talents into their workplace. And the page contains information for employers on every phase of the employment process. So, when you think about bringing on an employee, it includes; hiring, retaining that person in the job, and helping with them advance their careers. We also have many resources available on how to create inclusive and accessible workplaces and job accommodations. Which we know for businesses can sometimes be one of their concerns or they might not have a lot of information and so, we’re here to provide those resources for businesses.

Rick Sizemore:  Kim’s story provides the perfect backdrop to talk about that new business engagement page.

Heather Servais:  Yeah. And on the flip side of it, for VR counselors, this is a really good tool for them to use to connect the, their employers that their working with to these roles and just it helps support their customers on the job. So, we, we as VR counselors sometimes need to think in business terms and this is one great resource that we’ll have to help you think about the business’s needs too.

Rick Sizemore:  Yeah, and speaking of rehabilitation counselors, March 22nd is Rehabilitation Counselor Appreciation Day.

Heather Servais:  Yes! Happy Rehabilitation Counselor Appreciation Day. As a rehabilitation counselor myself, this is a day that always makes me so excited because rehabilitation counselors, they do such important work in serving individuals with disabilities. And we know that it’s a fun job and it’s a rewarding job, it’s also a challenging job. And so, at the Clearinghouse, we want to say thank you, all year long, for the work that you do. But also remind you that the NCRTM is here with a variety of resources. So, whether you’re a new counselor who’s just starting in this field or a seasoned counselor who’s really looking to take your work to the next level, we’ve got resources, training, and events, and a lot of different items and information that are going to help you in your journey to serving customers with disabilities.

Rick Sizemore:  Heather Servais, directs RSA’s National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials and joins us each month for the Clearinghouse report. Links and resources from the NCRTM are included in the show notes at vrworkforcestudio.com. Thanks, Heather.

Heather Servais:  Thanks, Rick.

Rick Sizemore:  Well, thank you for getting involved in today’s show. If you or someone you know has a disability and wants to get into the workforce, vocational rehabilitation may just be the answer to kickstart your career. Visit us at vrworkforcestudio.com to find links and resources as well as our contact information. On behalf of my co-host, Betsy Civilette, and I’m Rick Sizemore inviting you to join us as we podcast the sparks that ignite vocational rehabilitation.

Jake Hart:  The VR Workforce Studio Podcast is owned and operated by Vocational Rehabilitation’s Partners in Podcasting. Audio content for the podcast is provided to VR Partners in Podcasting by the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, in exchange for promotional considerations.