VR3: Making a Difference
Q1, Quality One, Quality happens one person at a time
 
VR3  Ready...Reliable...Results January 2015

Q1 leads to success

You can find it on desktops, bulletin boards and filing cabinets. You hear it at events and at open houses. It’s exemplified by the story of Patrick McGregor, the 2014 Client Achievement Award Winner.

Quality One. Quality happens one person at a time.

But Q1 is not just a logo and catchphrase. It’s deeper than that. It encompasses updates, tools and refinements to procedures for staff and services for clients and business partners, such as referral development, vocational assessment, individualized plan for employment (IPE) development, skills development, placement and employment retention, and employer relationships.

It goes deeper still. Q1 puts a name to something intangible: the quality and commitment each staff member has to providing the right services at the right time to VR customers. It’s reflected in the agency’s updated mission statement: Preparing and assisting eligible South Carolinians with disabilities to achieve and maintain competitive employment; and in the agency’s values, which emphasize People, Partnerships and Performance. It’s ongoing and organic.

“It’s taking hold. It’s something that people are really getting their hands around,” says Margaret Alewine, Director of Planning. “Quality One represents a culture that includes all staff members at all levels, and it's a long-term commitment.”

John Baker is one example of a “Quality One Success.”

ITTC graduate John Baker is an administrative team support specialist in VR’s Lexington office.

“Deep down I never thought a job would actually result from the VR program,” he says. “Boy, have you guys proved me wrong!”

Baker is a recent graduate of the Information Technology Training Center (ITTC) Program. He works as an administrative team support specialist in VR’s Lexington office.

“Without the computer and office skills, job searching and interview training, and the rest of my ITTC education, plus the combined help of the ITTC staff, I would still be unemployed today,” he says. “The energy and enthusiasm of the ITTC staff helped me and my classmates get jobs.”

Baker also gives a lot of credit to ITTC instructor Anita Kesler. “She took my internship assignment and conceived of ‘The Grand Plan,’ which has now played itself out in success. I’m very grateful. I shall never be able to thank all of you enough for what you’ve done for me.”

Quality One was presented to the agency during a video conference in July 2014 and included updates to the agency mission, vision and values statements and a video highlighting the quality service provided by staff, and how clients and business partners benefit from it.

The video resonates with multiple audiences. “We’re using it with new staff and with our partners to illustrate not only who we are and what we do, but how we do it,” says Alewine.

There have also been updates to the Case Management System, implementation of IPE best practices with training for area client service managers and staff, and development of reports and surveys. Q-Quotes and success stories have appeared in VR3.

In the works are refinements to placement and employment retention measures, tools for outreach, and best practices for vocational assessment.

“We’re also asking local offices to highlight success stories and examples of leaders in their areas,” says Alewine. “We want them to share their stories not just locally, but also statewide on an ongoing basis.”

“We have a long history of being one of the top VR programs,” states Alewine. “Quality One is in support of that; it is how we work day in and day out.”

Members of the Quality One work groups were recently recognized for their contributions.

Strategic Team (l to r): Terry Boyles, Gregg Gilbert, Rick Poole, Ernie Lathrop, Linda Menefee, Margaret Alewine.

Referral development (l to r): Jennie Thomas, Arnetha Cave, Jessica Birt, Margaret Alewine. Not pictured: Trisha Miller, Mary Hart, Allison Kitler.

Vocational assessment (l to r): Teresa Gingerella, Julia Cannon, Margaret Alewine, Clifford Brooks. Not pictured: Joycestean Pringle, Salonda Gallishaw, Tammy Johnson.

IPE (l to r): Ali Cato, Margaret Alewine, Teresa Moses, Jennifer Hice. Not pictured: Peter Zalka.

Skill Development: Pam Company, Sheila Ford, Ike McAlhany, Margaret Alewine, Robbie Truesdale, Teri Eakins, Clifford Brooks.

Placement and Employment Retention (l to r): Tina Stuber, Courtney McCullough, John Bailey, Margaret Alewine, Melinda Osburn.

Employer Relationships (l to r): Steve Heape, Margaret Alewine, Nancy Mitchum, Houston Matthews. Not pictured: Pete Foley (retired), Leon Stallings.

Communications (l to r): Darline Graham, Sandra Farray, Matt Daugherty, Margaret Alewine, Mark Wade, Teri Norris, Mark Gamble, Ali Cato, Mia Howard.

Around the state

Greenville staff active in community

Counselors Ginny Hughes, Chris Utsey, and Jessie Sahms participated in the 7th Annual Run For Thought at Conestee Park on November 8, a 5K Trail Run and 1 Mile Walk/Roll to benefit the Brain Injury Association of SC.

Transition team counselors Vaneasha Danzy, Jennifer Porth, Virginia D’Alessandro, Christopher Utsey, along with Area Supervisor David Turnipseed, Counselor Ginny Hughes, and Employment Coach Jill Vaughn participated in the Project HOPE Relay Run and fundraising event on November 15 which benefited the Project HOPE Foundation. Project HOPE provides services, resources and support to children, adolescents, and young adults with autism.

The Transition team also participated in the Passport to Success Annual event on November 21, sponsored by the Greenville County School District. Passport to Success provides graduating high school seniors resources to assist with transitioning to successful employment, post secondary education, and independent community living.

Rick Poole, ACSM; Bernard Jones, BDS; and Counselors Chris Mulley and Tammy Galindo participated in “A Second Chance Forum” on December 12, an event sponsored by Senator Karl Allen, which provided informational workshops and a job fair for ex-offenders, giving them resources and solutions to both improve their quality of life and help keep them from returning to prison.

Disability Mentoring Day

Photo: The Greenville Transition team and guest speaker John Beck (fifth from left) during Disability Mentoring Day on October 24.

Oconee-Pickens celebrates holiday season

The Oconee-Pickens VR area office celebrated the holiday season with live music and singing. Staff members served a delicious meal to the clients who also enjoyed an encouraging and uplifting presentation from Representative Bill Whitmire.

Photos: Paul Beasley (left) plays his violin. Representative Bill Whitmire (right) speaks to clients and staff.

Conway office provides customer service training

Customer service is job number one in Horry and Georgetown counties.

VR clients recently received continuing education training in customer service from Angela Kegler, PhD, of the Kegler Group. The program, offered in partnership with Horry Georgetown Technical College, provides clients with the training and tools to help them become successful customer service representatives no matter what industry they find themselves working in.

“Dr. Kegler tailored a program to meet our specific needs and it was very well received by the attendees,” says David Edwards, BDS Horry/Georgetown. “The Kegler Group offers corporate level training programs in a wide range of private industry settings and we are fortunate to have them working with us to serve our clients.”

Photo: Clients who participated in the customer service training. Far right: Dr. Angela Kegler.

Palmetto Center Open House

Palmetto Center hosted an open house on Friday, October 31 from 10 to 11:30 am for agencies in the vicinity serving persons with addictions disorders. Nearby area offices helped coordinate invitees.

Photo (l to r): Teresa Moses, ACSM in the Florence Area Office; Shonette Dargan, Executive Director of Pee Dee Coalition; and Christine White, ACE/JPI at Palmetto Center.

Lexington Disability Mentoring Day

Forty-three students gathered at the Lexington Area Office on October 22 to begin a day of job shadowing at local businesses which included Brookland Banquet and Conference Center, Brookland Child Development Center, Lexington Medical Center, Pawmetto Life Line, Food Lion, Black Rock Business Solutions, and Bob Johnson Body Shop.

Students asked questions, toured facilities and experienced hands-on job duties for a variety of career fields.

Following the job shadowing experience, students enjoyed lunch provided and served by Olive Garden. Afterward, they toured the Evaluation Center and Muscular Development Center, learning about the valuable services VR provides and the opportunities for them to participate in the Summer Transition Program.

Aiken Open House

An open house was held in Aiken on October 29. TD Bank was honored for its partnership with the Aiken Office and former client Brandon Still was recognized for outstanding client achievement. Rep. Bill Taylor and Senator Tom Young attended and both praised VR for its commitment to serving individuals with disabilities. Area Development Director, Anne Iriel, greeted guests and thanked everyone for partnering with VR.

The Bryant Center celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month

With the theme of “Expect-Employ-Empower,” the Bryant Center held its annual awards ceremony on October 28 to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month and to recognize business and community leaders who support the agency’s mission.

Publix grocery store in Duncan was recognized as the Business Partner of the Year for providing employment opportunities for clients. Sarah Gaff talked about how Bryant Center services helped her become an employee at Publix.

The banquet honored former clients with mental or physical disabilities who had successfully attained employment. Dennis Kimbrell was recognized as Client of the Year for his achievements in successful employment. Guest speaker Josh Loudenslager described how he had utilized Bryant Center services to help him attain successful employment in a rewarding occupation in the Information Technology industry.

Attendees included local political leaders, representatives from state and local agencies, business leaders, and educators. State Representative Rita Allison provided the keynote address. Loyd Dennis, a Byrnes High School special education teacher, highlighted the collaborative effort between the school and the Bryant Center that helps special education students make the transition from school into full- or part-time jobs in the local community.

Photo: Jennie Thomas (left), area supervisor of the Bryant Center, and Alberto Delgado (right), Bryant Center job coach, present Dennis Kimbrell the Client of the Year award.

Anderson Disability Mentoring Day

Thirty-four students participated in job shadows with thirteen different employers during the Anderson office annual Disability Mentoring Day (DMD) on October 23.

Students got an opportunity to explore diverse career opportunities including automotive, welding, cosmetology, law enforcement, administration, social services, music education, early childhood education, culinary arts, retail, nursing, landscaping, and engineering.

Olive Garden, a national DMD sponsor, catered lunch for the event. The local newspaper, the Anderson Independent-Mail, covered the story on the front page.

Orangeburg office spreads holiday cheer

The Orangeburg VR office helped spread a little holiday cheer to individuals with spinal cord injuries and their families this season. An anonymous donor supplied fruit, baskets, and supplies for holiday fruit baskets. Orangeburg staff members assembled the baskets, which were distributed to members of the Orangeburg Spinal Cord Injury Support Group.

Photo (l to r): Ivey Drawdy, Kitty Bamberg, Kim Weeks.

Rock Hill office provides help for the holidays

Salvation Army staff receive Rock Hill VR donations to deliver to Adopt-A-Family recipients.

The Rock Hill Area Office participated in its First Annual Helping for the Holidays Outreach Project on December 17. This year the office sponsored a local family through the Salvation Army Adopt-A-Family Project.

Each year the Salvation Army identifies local families in the Rock Hill area who need assistance during the holidays. The items donated by the Rock Hill office included motorized cars, art kits, clothing, home supplies, college-themed mementos and a gift card.

“There was an outpouring of support from the Rock Hill team toward this outreach project,” says Annette Vasher, area administrative assistant, Rock Hill Office. “It was great to combine the spirit of the holidays with the need of the Rock Hill community. We look forward to this wonderful tradition of service every year.”

Q Quotes

Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.

—William A. Foster

Did you know...

...that Congress recently passed a bill that will help people with disabilities save money without risking Social Security and other government benefits?

President Obama signed The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act into law on December 19, 2014. The law will allow people with disabilities to establish special accounts where they can save money to pay for education, health care, transportation, housing and other expenses without losing Medicaid benefits. Interest will be tax-free.

A full story can be found at disabilityscoop.com.

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

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