Vocational Rehabilitation at the crossroads of disability and poverty, the Shane Padgett story
Speaker 1: VR Workforce Studio.
Speaker 2: 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 3: Listen to our amazing stories.
Speaker 4: Hear the joy and share in our inspiration.
Speaker 2: We’ll also meet the champions of business at industry.
Speaker 5: I can say beyond the shadow of a doubt, that some of our best employees have disabilities.
Speaker 2: And hear from the VR professionals who have dedicated their lives and careers to helping individuals with disabilities go to work. Now here’s the host to the VR workforce studio, Rick Sizemore.
Speaker 6: Begin countdown.
Speaker 2: Along with the executive director of the [Wilson 00:00:49] workforce and rehabilitation center foundation, Anne Hudlow.
Speaker 6: Four, three, two, one.
Anne Hudlow: Welcome to episode 66, it’s the driving force.
Rick Sizemore: When vocational rehabilitation begins at the crossroads of disability and poverty.
Anne Hudlow: Today we meet Shane and hear his story of becoming a long haul trucker, his disability and how vocational rehabilitation helped him gain the skills he needed for success in the trucking industry.
Rick Sizemore: Would you look at that. Oh man, what kind of truck we got here Shane?
Shane Padgett: Peterbilt, automatic 13-speed transmission.
Anne Hudlow: Oh Shane, I wouldn’t do that if I were you.
Rick Sizemore: Wouldn’t do what?
Anne Hudlow: Let Rick behind the wheel of that truck. He’s always wanted to do this but you know he has trouble driving his jeep.
Rick Sizemore: Thank you buzzkill. Remember, I see you drop your kids off at school in the morning, talk about dangerous.
Anne Hudlow: That’s true, that’s true.
Rick Sizemore: Well we’ll go for a ride with Shane in the big inspiration showcase momentarily.
Anne Hudlow: Later in the show we’ll talk with John Walsh who heads up the VR technical assistance center for targeted communities.
Rick Sizemore: Better known as project E3, define what the words educate, empower and employ.
Anne Hudlow: E3 has targeted several communities in America like Martinsville where Shane lives, that have been hit hard with economic challenges. John and his team are reaching out to people with disabilities in those targeted communities to help them get the skills and support they need to find a career.
Rick Sizemore: Also, on today’s show, we’ll bring you a wrap up from CSAVR with comments from Mr. Vision 2020 himself, Steve Wooderson and check in with Katia Albanese on the upcoming in focus newsletter from CSAVR and of course Cherie Takemoto is standing by with our national clearing house update.
Speaker 10: Big, big, big, big, big, big, big, big, big, inspiration.
Anne Hudlow: Shane Padgett lives in Martinsville and works as a long haul trucker, running cargo and freight from coast to coast. Welcome to the podcast Shane.
Shane Padgett: Hey, how are you?
Anne Hudlow: I’m well, thanks.
Rick Sizemore: When I was a little kid in elementary school, I used to deliver furniture with my dad who drove a truck and the only thing I wanted to do when I was a kid was wind up being like you as a long haul trucker. So I know it’s gotta feel good to be out on the road.
Shane Padgett: Yes, sir.
Rick Sizemore: You know, podcasts have become really popular with truckers. Do you listen to Podcasts when you’re running up and down the road?
Shane Padgett: I have actually never listened to a podcast.
Anne Hudlow: Now you’ve got one to listen to. We’re gonna get you hooked on ’em.
Shane Padgett: Yes. Alright, I think I’ll check ’em out.
Rick Sizemore: Tell us about your job, we want to hear all about it.
Shane Padgett: We haul different stuff, we haul products out to California and then we bring back produce like fruits and vegetables and stuff like that. The truck I drive is a Peterbilt automatic 13 speed transmission.
Rick Sizemore: Awesome. I want to go with you.
Shane Padgett: The company I work for is a really good company. Most companies I know pay by the mile, this company here, they pay by the trip instead of the mile which actually turns out to be a little bit better because if you go from here to California or from here to South Carolina you’re making the same amount of money each week instead of making less money for going to South Carolina versus California.
Rick Sizemore: One of the things that brought this interview about is knowing that Donna and her team out at the vocational rehabilitation office are really trying to help, not only individuals with disabilities, trying to help people in areas where the economy has been really challenging. Before trucking, what was it like trying to get a job in Martinsville?
Shane Padgett: It was pretty tough. I had applied at several places before I got the last job I had which was working in a warehouse. It was pretty tough to get a job.
Rick Sizemore: I mean the furniture industry just dried up in that whole area and it seemed like the economy just tanked.
Shane Padgett: It really did. It seemed like to me in order for you to get a job you have to really have a job, if you don’t have a job at all it’s really tough to get a job.
Rick Sizemore: And you have a family, you and your wife have some children and there’s gotta be economic pressures.
Shane Padgett: Yes sir. We’ve got two kids, my daughters nine and my son is two years old. So it’s really tough.
Rick Sizemore: So why truck driving?
Shane Padgett: It’s one of the best paying jobs out there that I could find and it’s just something I’ve wanted to do. You can travel and see the world and do the job that you like at the same time.
Rick Sizemore: And make some money.
Shane Padgett: Yes sir. Exactly.
Anne Hudlow: Can you share a little bit about your disability with us?
Shane Padgett: Sure. I have Tourette’s syndrome which comes from some medication that I used to take. It provides some challenges as well. I’ve worked through it.
Rick Sizemore: So how did you as you’re working through Tourette’s learn to drive big rigs.
Shane Padgett: Well with a lot of patience and with the help of a lot of really good truck driving trainers.
Rick Sizemore: Well we want to hear the whole story.
Shane Padgett: I basically told them, you know, my situation and they worked through that, helped me get where I needed to be with a little extra training.
Rick Sizemore: So did you go to an actual truck driving school? Tell us about that.
Shane Padgett: I did. I went with school called CDS in Roanoke, Virginia. I went through the Patrick Henry Community college in Martinsville to get into the program, but they are a really good program to go through. We had a small class size.
Rick Sizemore: A lot of people may not know about how truck driving school works. Was there classroom, did you get out in the trucks. Tell us about learning to drive a truck.
Shane Padgett: There’s so many hours of classroom instruction and it’s so many hours of hands on in the truck instruction. It’s 160 hours total. So half of that was in the classroom going over like log books, watching videos, taking tests to make sure you’re getting the understanding of everything. The rest of it was in the truck practicing backing maneuvers like straight back, offset backing and parallel parking which when I first went on the yard to do the hands on in the truck, my biggest fear was doing the parallel park because I felt like myself that I wouldn’t be able to get it. But once I got into it and actually started doing it, that’s actually what I did the best over everything besides the straight back.
Rick Sizemore: That’s a complicated maneuver, I’m not a truck driver but I have lots of friends that are and if you’ve mastered that you’re good to go.
Shane Padgett: Yeah, yeah if you can master that then you’re good to go definitely ’cause that was the most challenging.
Anne Hudlow: I have trouble with my car. I have trouble with my car Shane, I don’t know how you do it.
Shane Padgett: It’s very challenging, definitely.
Anne Hudlow: Well that’s really great. And how has it been working with your employer?
Shane Padgett: It’s been working out really good. You know, I let ’em know from the start that, you know, my disability and they’ve been really good to work with me, putting me with a really good trainer and myself I don’t smoke so I did put that out there as well, so they’re working with me as well as far as trying to put me with a non-smoker as well. So it’s been really good experience.
Rick Sizemore: Are these services helping people get to a better place in their life?
Shane Padgett: It’s just been a good experience seeing how different organizations can come together to help people with disabilities to be able to better themselves and get to the job that they really want or just get a job in general.
Rick Sizemore: There’s some programs getting ahead in a getting by world is one of them and your family actually participated in some financial counseling. Any comments you would have about that?
Shane Padgett: Well my wife actually took those classes. It just gives you great information on ways to better your credit score. To I guess plan your bills and financial planning and stuff like that. A whole lot of good information out there to help people.
Rick Sizemore: Yeah, what’s the biggest advantage you can see from the way this program has unfolded in your life, for you and your family.
Shane Padgett: Well we were actually receiving some assistance from social services and I was able to get this job, we’ve actually been able to come off of that and be able to better stand on our own two feet as far as supporting ourselves as a family and that was one of my goals.
Rick Sizemore: Sounds like you’ve achieved that goal and the folks at voc rehab and WIOA and the other partners really couldn’t be happier for you and your family. It sounds like you’re actually on the road to success if not already there and we couldn’t be happier for you and wish you nothing but the greatest of success as a long haul trucker and be safe out there on the road.
Shane Padgett: I will and I really appreciate it.
Anne Hudlow: Shane, congratulations, we’re really happy for you. We wish you the very best.
Shane Padgett: Thank you so much.
Anne Hudlow: So Rick you’re just back from the CSAVR conference, how was it?
Rick Sizemore: Oh it was sensational. We had a chance to visit Capitol Hill and share copies of CSAVR’s new publication, investing in America, which features some of the nation’s most compelling VR success stories including one of our consumers from Wilson, Chris Hall. I talked to Steve Wooderson at the end of the conference and here’s what he had to say about the spring conference.
Steve Wooderson: You know Rick, I think the number one take away was our first morning. We had a panel that included a couple of states, representatives from across the country but it was Maryland and Virginia that just happened to be the highlight and we had a couple consumers that just knocked it out of the park. They demonstrated their drive, their desire to move in a competitive integrated employment. The vocational rehabilitation staff that served them encouraged them and supported them to be able to be successful and then we had employers that were looking for talent and you know, when all that comes together it is just incredibly exciting thing to see. So for me that was number one take away.
Steve Wooderson: It’s been a great conference overall but when you see the results of the work that we’re doing, that’s what really makes a difference.
Anne Hudlow: And we have Katia Albanese on the line. Katia, thanks so much for being with us today.
Katia Albanese: Thank you so much for having me.
Anne Hudlow: Katia, you have a new newsletter out this month. What can we look forward too from in focus?
Katia Albanese: We just put out our second issue and we’re thrilled to say that the distribution list has already grown well beyond just AVR leaders ’cause the goal of this really is to be a channel for communicating about VR successes. The newsletter features our four focus areas, how we are meeting the needs of individuals with disabilities as customers, responding to the needs of businesses, collaborating with public agencies and community partners and informing and shaping federal and state policy and practice.
Katia Albanese: We featured the story of a young man named Jacob Hesselman and Jake is a science teacher at a high school in Dubuque Iowa where he also coaches wrestling and football. Jake who has no legs and about one third of his arms due to a congenital condition was coached along his own career journey by VR in Iowa.
Katia Albanese: For businesses, we feature Wind Co They were named 2019 business of the year for their partnership with VR which started in Texas but is now expanding to other states like Utah, Arizona, and Idaho. For collaborations, we spotlighted how Florida’s division of VR has partnered with an organization called Jobs for Florida’s graduates which is part of the national jobs for America’s graduate network and what they’re doing is significantly expanding delivery of pre ETS to students with disabilities in five different counties in Florida.
Katia Albanese: And finally, for informing policy we featured how VR in Missouri is leading the charge to formally add customized employment to the scope of services available to VR, rehab services for the blind and the department of mental health development disabilities division consumers. We are always looking for success stories to highlight so please, please share them with us.
Rick Sizemore: Cool stuff going on Katia, we’ll include the link to in focus in our show notes.
Anne Hudlow: That’s right and Rick I just want to say, Katia you are a fantastic partner for us and we just really appreciate everything you’re doing.
Katia Albanese: Thank you. Same here and thank you for having us again and giving us an opportunity to spread the word about all this great work that VR’s doing across the country.
Anne Hudlow: Thanks so much for being here.
Katia Albanese: Thank care.
Rick Sizemore: We continue our conversation from the crossroads of disability and poverty with John Walsh who heads up the VR technical assistance center for targeted communities or project E3 that helped send Shane to truck driving school. John and his team help people with disabilities in economically disadvantaged communities like Martinsville where Shane lives with his family.
Anne Hudlow: John, welcome to the podcast today.
John Walsh: Thank you for having me. Look forward to talking about targeted communities.
Anne Hudlow: Absolutely. Can you tell us a little bit about E3?
John Walsh: Sure, absolutely. E3 is a partnership of six institutions of higher learning and the counsel of state administrators for vocational rehabilitation. We are a technical assistance center that’s funded by the US department of education and our main mission is to assist state VR agencies and their community partners to be able to work with individuals living in economically disadvantaged communities and really the ultimate goal is to help folks connect to jobs and to launch on to career pathways.
Rick Sizemore: You heard Shane’s story, what is your reaction to how that unfolded and how it’s connected to E3?
John Walsh: Well it was, first of all it was a fantastic story to hear. This is the ultimate goal of our project, is to help individuals with disabilities to be able to connect with the resources and supports they need around an employment goal and you know, just hearing Shane’s story about the effort he put into this with the wrap around service to support him and to be able to achieve his employment goal and to be able to support his family, that is what we’re all about.
Rick Sizemore: Well it warmed my heart. I mean you can hear the kids in the background, it’s a happy family and he’s so optimistic about his future because of what E3 really accomplished.
Anne Hudlow: Absolutely. Hey John, can you tell us more about where these targeted communities are located?
John Walsh: Absolutely, project E3 is working with 12 states throughout the country. California, Illinois, New Jersey, Kentucky, Oregon, New Mexico, Louisianan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, Montana and Virginia. So we are working with the state VR agencies in all of those states and in each of those states we are looking at two communities within that location that have been identified as having some issues with economic disadvantage or lack of resources that often impede a person’s ability to fully participate in an employment training program and to ultimately secure work.
Rick Sizemore: Tell us about some of the partners that you’re pulling into this process as part of E3.
John Walsh: Rick that’s a great point, when we come into a community, first of all we do a lot of listening because we know there are a lot of good things happening in the various states we’re visiting. So we’re really trying to build on the strengths they already have developed and we’re really reaching out to, one the partners that have already been identified that are working with the state VR agency and looking for ways to go deeper with those partner ships and then as we do these listening sessions in the communities, what are the partners that we may have missed that we can really start to reach out to around supporting folks to go to work. Not only getting a job but keeping a job.
Anne Hudlow: John we’ve heard the phrase, it can’t be about us without us.
John Walsh: That’s right.
Rick Sizemore: As this person who’s leading this national project, what does that mean to you?
John Walsh: That folks have to make decisions about their own life. Nothing about me without me is critical because we’re not coming in as an external expert to tell folks how they should live their lives. We’re here, bringing a certain level of expertise to assist individuals to achieve their individual goal and for agencies also to really achieve their missions. So when we come in and bring these partners together we’re hoping that we can show how missions can align around benefiting individuals with disabilities around employment goals.
Anne Hudlow: You must run into situations where there’s lot of emotion in these communities that have been hit hard with the loss of industry. You know, community pride is always a touchy issue, how do you get past that?
John Walsh: Well Anne, I think that is a really really relevant point and I think again, I think when we walk into a community we want to sit and listen to folks. Tell us about what your community has been through. We know in Martinsville that one of our targeted communities in Virginia and that Shane lives in, has gone through some significant economic changes based on certain industries leaving that area and folks have developed deep roots in those communities and don’t want to leave those communities. So as we go to various communities we’re learning some of their best practices as well that we can share to other partners also. So we want to make sure that not only are we helping individual communities but as a technical assistance center, that the lessons we’re learning from these communities, that we can share on the broader stage. And this podcast is one way for us to share some of that information.
Rick Sizemore: Well we’re looking forward in the future to maybe hearing some more stories from around the country. The rehabilitation services administration is certainly behind this effort at the highest levels and we spoke with Felipe Lulli out at RSA and he had this to say about targeted communities. Let’s take a listen.
Felipe Lulli: It is so refreshing to hear the real life success story of Shane Padgett. It is a bonus knowing that the US department of education program that I’m responsible for actually helped make Shane’s employment dreams come true. I’m so excited that my program, E3, is helping many other men and women too. Men and women with disabilities from economically disadvantaged communities nationwide to also reach their employment goals just like Shane.
Rick Sizemore: John, what’s your reaction to what Felipe is saying?
John Walsh: So we’re really pleased of having the collaborative support of our partners at the rehabilitation services administration. It is so critical that we have this federal level partnership that is enabling us to do the good work we’re doing at the targeted communities technical assistance center.
Rick Sizemore: Well and you’re tied in with the universities, we talked with [Marine 00:21:13] Maguire Kuletz this morning and she seems to be thrilled with how things are going.
M. Kuletz: The George Washington university center for rehabilitation, counseling, research and education is one of the university entities that is partnering in this project. Specifically we have two states that we’re working in, one is the common wealth of Virginia in the Martinsville and Hampton Road’s areas and in New Jersey we’re working in the Newark area. As you know from John’s comments, we work with traditionally underserved populations who have not always been successful working with state vocational rehabilitation and the desire is to use my expression, to try to move the needle to increase referrals, to increase employment outcomes, to improve benefits and to do a better job of working within the community and with community partners and VR to try and help these folks improve their lots in life.
John Walsh: George Washington University is one of our partners and they have done a wonderful job in working in their two targeted communities not only in Virginia but also working with the folks in New Jersey.
Anne Hudlow: You know John, I love the proactive ness in this whole scenario. This is awesome, all the great work that you’re doing.
John Walsh: So it was a pleasure to hear Shane’s story and to learn a little bit about he and his wife and his family and to talk about a little of the challenges that he had to overcome in his journey to be able to secure this position with the trucking company and the fact that he is now able to better support his family. The other thing that struck me his forward thinking now of future goals. So he talked a little bit about, now he wanted to find a new house for his family that he was in a more financially stable situation. The other piece that really struck me is part of our project was to develop the capacity for folks to engage in financial literacy training and financial empowerment so that not only when you secured a job, to better understand the current system we have of banking, of developing assets on the long term.
John Walsh: His wife had availed herself of one of the training opportunities that we helped facilitated in collaboration with United Way to enter in a course called getting ahead in the getting by kind of world and so my kudos to Shane and his wife for really being able to engage with as much as possible of the training situations. Not only Shane’s jumping in and going through the process to secure a CVL and working with the employer to get a good paying, sustainable job over the long haul but also his wife participating in a piece of our project that really is going to help this family to navigate these kind of economic tough times within Martinsville.
Rick Sizemore: Yeah I have family in the trucking business and lots of friends who are truck drivers and after you go through what you go through to earn that money, you want to manage it and it seems like Shane and his wife and his family are really invested in now managing that money they’ve worked so hard to earn.
John Walsh: Absolutely.
Anne Hudlow: Right, absolutely. The word that comes to my mind is empowerment. So John, you and E3 are doing that and you are giving a leg up and that’s just awesome. So we appreciate your partnership. John Walsh, thank you for everything that you’re doing, we appreciate you being here today.
John Walsh: Well thank you so much Rick and Anne, it was a pleasure to chat with you today and all my best to Shane and his family and their continued success.
Rick Sizemore: Thanks for being here.
Anne Hudlow: Thanks so much John. John heads up the nations E3 targeted communities projects and comes to us from his office in Philadelphia.
Rick Sizemore: It’s time for our national clearing house update with Cherie Takemoto. Cherie we’ve been talking about VR at the crossroads of disability and poverty. We’ve heard from Shane, learned to drive a truck, and John who’s leading the E3 targeted communities grant. What do we have in the clearing house this week?
Cherie Takemoto: Well first, Rick and Anne, I want to congratulate you for finally picking a topic, all your topics are great but finally picking a topic that I just love.
Rick Sizemore: Awesome.
Anne Hudlow: You stick with us long enough Cherie.
Cherie Takemoto: You know, because poverty has always been a part of disability and people with disabilities are more likely to live in poverty and [EC 00:26:17] targeted communities really stresses the point that everybody working in the poverty and disability communities need to be working together as well as they’re really big in putting research into practice. So I’m going to talk about three things today.
Cherie Takemoto: First thing is they have a link to research and they’re constantly updating it, between research and poverty and that will be in my show notes. If you want to keep up on what’s going on or being able to communicate across the aisle with other … TANF and social services agencies about how disability fits into the poverty picture. That will be one of my links.
Cherie Takemoto: So the second link is to the 12 states that the E3 targeted communities is serving and you can get a profile on what the communities in those states look like. They compare how these communities compare to the rest of the world and it’s a great way to understand that interchange between poverty and disabilities. If you care about this topic like I do, join their community at practice and I’ll provide a link to that. You can go to the webinars, have discussion groups, get deeper dives into topics and they’ll even open up discussions if you ask them to. But so far some of their popular ones have to do with the rural transportation issues, benefits such as SSI or TANF and disability and rural and remote. Just some of the issues around being in a rural community like Martinsville.
Cherie Takemoto: So that’s it and I’ll talk to you next month.
Rick Sizemore: Thank you Cherie from our national clearing house for rehabilitation training materials.
Anne Hudlow: WWRC foundation is grateful for the continued assistance that we receive in support of the center. Additionally, we extend our gratitude to our wonderful partners in podcasting who made this episode possible. Aladdin foods.
Rick Sizemore: Career Pathways for individuals with disabilities.
Anne Hudlow: Community foundation of the central blue ridge.
Rick Sizemore: The counsel of state administrators of vocational rehabilitation.
Anne Hudlow: CVS health, Dominion energy.
Rick Sizemore: Certainly can’t forget our friends at the global impact today radio network with Deb Ruh and her team
Anne Hudlow: That’s right. And we have Hershey chocolate company, Jesse Ball-DuPont Fund, United Bank, Valley to Virginia Grant, Virginia Manufacturers Association.
Rick Sizemore: And we are always appreciative of our partners at the Virginia Voice as they broadcast these episodes.
Anne Hudlow: That’s right. And last but not least, Wells Fargo.
Rick Sizemore: Well it’s been another great show and thanks for all that you and the foundation are doing. The one thing I know you’d like is that if our listeners would sign up for your newsletter.
Anne Hudlow: That’s right, we do have a newsletter. We’d love to have you all involved, so please join us by signing up at our website at wwrcf.org.
Rick Sizemore: Well until next time, I’m Rick Sizemore.
Anne Hudlow: And I’m Anne Hudlow.
Rick Sizemore: With the courageous stories of vocational rehabilitation.
Vickie Varner: That’s exactly how life is. You choose how you’re going to look at something. You are forced upon a situation, can control what you’re going to do with that situation. Either make life crappy or you can make life great and I just choose to make life great.
NCRTM Links and Resources
The Technical Assistance Center for Targeted Communities, also known as “Project E3” (Educate, Empower, Employ Targeted Communities) or “E3TC”, is funded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to work with state vocational rehabilitation agencies and their partners to help people with disabilities from underserved communities achieve their independent living and employment goals. E3TC continually adds new resources and highlights research and practice applications. Here are a few examples.
Targeted Communities State Profiles – Project E3 works with 12 selected communities who receive long-term, on-site Intensive technical assistance focusing on improving employment and community integration of persons with disabilities from VR-eligible, economically disadvantaged targeted populations. This page contains summaries of each of the targeted communities currently working with Project E3. Check back for updates on progress and outcomes.
Project E3 Targeted Communities Poverty Resources – Project E3 Targeted Communities TA Project collects resources on targeted populations, which are high-leverage groups who are underserved or achieved substandard performance with needs in multiple locations across the country: This resource page topic is “Poverty”
Project E3’s Community of Practice (CoP) – Project E3’s Community of Practice (CoP) brings together people interested in helping people with disabilities from underserved communities achieve their independent living and employment goals. Our community provides a space for open exchange between researchers gathering and sharing information about practices and community providers who apply knowledge to practices. In it, community members can share information and resources, ideas, approaches, insights, and experiences.
Find out about these resources and more from the National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials (NCRTM). You can also sign up for their newsletter so that you can keep up with the latest in VR.