VR3: Making a Difference
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VR3  Ready...Reliable...Results August 2014

Summer is full of events for transition students

Youth Leadership Forum

“No one has ever done anything like this for us before,” says Leesa Iseman, special education teacher at Newberry Elementary.

She is surrounded by the 38 students attending the Youth Leadership Forum (YLF). They presented Iseman with boxes of supplies for her special education class and preschool class. They also wrote and illustrated cards addressed to Iseman’s students welcoming them to school this year.

“Thank you so much,” she says smiling broadly.

This is the first year YLF has done a service project.

“The students picked the group they wanted to help,” explains Laura Spears, Transition Services Coordinator. “They picked children with disabilities.”

“Seeing the joy in Mrs. Iseman’s eyes and how much we cared for her students was amazing,” said YLF attendee Micheyn Hought.

In addition to team building exercises, learning leadership skills, and challenging themselves on the ropes course at Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School, YLF attendees also learned about the history of the disability rights movement.

“A lot of the students didn’t realize that people had to fight for their rights not too terribly long ago,” says Spears. “It really opened their eyes to how far things have come, but that there is still a good ways to go.”

Eight members of the Newberry College Wolves spoke to the group, sharing the obstacles they had to overcome to be able to play football. One story that really struck home with the students was from a player who was told he couldn’t play football because he was too short.

Nemo Thompson sums up YLF this way: “It’s been A-plus, awesome and amazing!”

Lexington Summer Institute

Students attended Job Preparedness Instruction classes and practiced the skills they learned in mock interviews. They also toured Midlands Technical College and Pawmetto Lifeline. To round out their experience, students participated in service projects at Habitat for Humanity and Harvest Hope Food Bank.

Greenwood Summer Institute

Summer Institute 2014 began at the Greenville Drive Stadium where 22 transition & High School/High Tech students from Greenwood, Abbeville, McCormick and Newberry counties learned about various careers in the sports entertainment industry. Many students were surprised to learn how important computer technology, accounting and turf management are to the success of the Greenville Drive baseball team.

The students finished up the day at the Laurens County Center for Advanced Manufacturing where they learned about the skills and training required in highly technical fields like CNC (computer numerical control) operation and welding. After touring the facility, they completed a CNC activity where they were able to operate machines used in the training process. Many students were impressed with the jobs and training available, and especially with the money they could make after such a short period of training.

The next day the students visited Presbyterian College in Clinton. They learned the importance of financial aid, scholarships, service projects and self advocacy in college. A guided campus tour gave them a glimpse of life on campus. Many students commented that they were excited to begin thinking about college and learning which college or university was right for them.

Aiken Summer Transition Activities

The Transition staff are preparing the youth from the Aiken Area Office for the next step in employment readiness post-graduation.

Transition counselors, the job training center staff, job coach and business development specialist teamed up to create a Summer Institute that would encompass a variety of employment-related activities to keep the students engaged and primed for the jump into the workforce.

Aiken’s six-week Summer Institute included tours of the Aiken Sheriff’s Department and Aiken Technical College. Tours provided insight into many occupations.

Guest speakers from the Aiken Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Services, Dunkin Donuts, Regions Bank and Kimberly Clark discussed work-readiness and on-the-job expectations.

Students also participated in weekly employment readiness classes, learning about social media and social networking, time management, communication skills and more.

Students toured Aiken Technical College and learned about the admissions process. A highlight of the tour included visiting the pottery studio.

At the Aiken Sheriff’s Department, the students learned about numerous employment opportunities and toured the communications, dispatch, evidence, and crimes against children/internet units.

Summer Transition Program at the Bryant Center

During each of the three two-week sessions, transition students from across the upstate participated in physical therapy and exercise; learned independent living skills through occupational therapy; enhanced their leadership, teamwork, self-advocacy, and communication skills through Guidepost activities; explored careers and post-secondary interests; and engaged in mock interviews, work simulations, and other job preparedness activities.

Summer Transition Program at the Evaluation Center

“Each student was unique,” says Brittany Jenson, Physical Therapist Aide/Lifeguard at the SCVRD Muscular Development Center, about the students who attended the Summer Institute at the Evaluation Center in Columbia.

Students participated in classes about positive attitude; responsibility, including money management; team building; communication; workplace etiquette; role-playing problem-solving scenarios; and using the SC Occupational Information System (SCOIS) to search for jobs.

The staff used games and activities in the classes to engage and challenge the students.

Additionally, the students went on field trips which incorporated career exploration, either to the SC State Museum or to Riverbanks Zoo. Students especially enjoyed the museum’s interactive exhibits. One called the museum “the best trip I’ve ever been on.”

Around the state

Johnson & Johnson-Dartmouth Achievement Award Winners

The Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Program in Greenville, sponsored by the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department (SCVRD) and the Greenville Department of Mental Health (DMH) recently received the 2014 Johnson & Johnson-Dartmouth Achievement Award.

The mission of the IPS Program is to increase access to evidence-based supported employment (SE) for adults with serious mental illness who are interested in improving their work lives. The program is administered in participating states through collaboration between the state mental health authority and the state vocational rehabilitation department.

Each year, IPS programs are recognized for their successes in implementing supported employment programs.

The Awards, which began in 2008,recognize mental health agencies implementing evidence-based supported employment and their vocational rehabilitation partners in the Program.

Pictured (l to r) are the IPS staff: Belinda Wilson, DMH IPS Peer Support Specialist; Olivia Davis, DMH IPS Team Leader, Shelley Hoppe, SCVRD IPS Job Coach; and Leslie Warren, SCVRD Counselor.

Aiming for the finish line

Pam Smith, Oconee-Pickens Area Office Supervisor, created a fun theme to encourage VR staff members to progress at top speed while providing quality services to clients.

Each counselor was presented with a small car to keep in the office. All staff members were provided a “finish flag” for their work station as a reminder that it takes the entire team to get our clients across the finish line successfully.

Treats for the Mind and Body

Human resource managers, plant managers, and staff from the Lancaster County Economic Development Corporation and the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce gathered at SCVRD’s Lancaster office on June 25 for “Treats for the Mind and Body.”

The event was an opportunity for attendees to learn more about SCVRD services from several SCVRD business partners plus former SCVRD clients.

Donna Casey, currently a sourcing manger with Consolidated Metco, spoke about how she has utilized the Lancaster Work Training Center for more than 20 years.

Marvin Starks, General Manager of Nibrol, told how Nibrol has outsourced work, participated in Community Based Evaluations and hired job-ready individuals through SCVRD.

Deborah Rouse, HR Manager with Cardinal Health, spoke about the advantages of the Skilled Workforce Apprenticeship Training (SWAT) program, Federal Tax Credits, and the outsourcing capability of the Lancaster Work Training Center.

Former clients Paula Bunton and Harry Smith, III told about how their lives were changed by the services they received from SCVRD. Paula is now an assistant at Duke’s Eye Care Clinic and Harry is a long-haul truck driver.

Finally, Susan Simms, SCVRD counselor, explained about JRS services and how effective they are in retaining qualified employees.

After the “Treats for the Mind,” guests enjoyed “Treats for the Body,” an Ice-Cream Parlor featuring several different toppings.

At the end of the day, guests left with a better understanding of SCVRD.

Jenny Paquette, HR Manager from the Lancaster County Natural Gas Authority, stated she was “stunned to have never known about SCVRD and what you do.”

Allen Davis, VP of Operations for McClancy Seasoning summed up SCVRD, “You all are the best kept business secret out there.”

Rock Hill Information Fair

The Rock Hill Office held its first Annual Information Fair on June 25.

“The idea behind the event was to allow as many of our VR staff an opportunity to directly inform and build referral bases with York County partners,” says Makesha Dixon, Counselor.

The event brought in a wide variety of York County referral sources, employers, community partners, clients and families.

Attendees learned about SCVRD’s comprehensive programs; Palmetto Center and Holmesview Treatment Centers; the Information Technology Training Program; the Evaluation Center and the Bryant Center; supported employment and Job Preparedness Instruction services.

This event served to build a strong foundation for building strong partnerships.

Photo: Phil Hall (right), Job Readiness Training Coordinator, takes guests on a tour of the Work Training Center.

Did you know...

…that on July 22, President Barack Obama signed into law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which replaces the Workforce Investment Act?

This was a bipartisan bill that passed both the House and Senate with overwhelming support. The new law includes amendments to the Rehabilitation Act, which regulates all state Vocational Rehabilitation agencies, including SCVRD. It emphasizes services to students transitioning into employment and strong partnerships with business and industry as well as other workforce programs. The new regulations of the Rehabilitation Act will be formulated in the coming months.


August 1 - Transition Summer Institute.
September 17, 9-11am - Job Fair featuring opportunities with manufacturing, warehousing, retail and staffing agencies.
  For more information, call 864-224-6391
August 1 - Transition Summer Institute.
September 18 - Job Fair.
  For more information, call 864-882-6669 or 866-313-0082

Preparing and assisting eligible South Carolinians with disabilities to achieve and maintain competitive employment

VR3 is published by the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department (SCVRD), 1410 Boston Avenue, West Columbia, SC 29171.
The Public Information Office provides all news and information. News material may be reproduced with credit to VR3. In accordance with federal and state laws, SCVRD does not discriminate against any race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability in employment or in provision of services.