VR3: Making a Difference
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VR3  Ready...Reliable...Results May 2015

30 years of PRIDE

“Customer service is the heartbeat of our agency,” said Chris Porter, Disability Determination Services (DDS) Regional Supervisor for Greenville, during the 30th annual PRIDE banquet in Lexington on April 23.

PRIDE (People Responsibly Influencing Decisional Excellence), which began in the Atlanta Regional Office in 1985, recognizes the positive contributions made by DDS employees through an annual, regional award and recognition program.

Each nominee and winner exemplified customer service, forward thinking and dedication to their job. DDS staff were recognized for their work in the agency and within their community, including high quality, efficient case processing time; providing exceptional leadership and helping other staff to be their best; improving and streamlining various procedures; working extra hours to gather the necessary information so that a life-saving transplant could be performed; and translating notes and medical records from Chinese to assist a claimant who had received care for a serious heart condition in Taiwan.

“I am very proud to work with such a professional and compassionate staff as we have at the DDS,” says Shirley Jarrett, Director of DDS. “The daily accomplishments of our staff amaze me and this year's award recipients represent the best of the best.”

More than 190 DDS staff from around the state attended the event, honoring their coworkers with humor, enthusiasm and respect.

Special guests included Otto Wilson, SC Area Director for the Social Security Administration (SSA); Nathan Homes, Director for the Center for Disability, Atlanta Regional SSA Office; and Arnold Miller, District Manager, Columbia SSA.

Winners of the PRIDE awards will represent South Carolina in the Atlanta Regional PRIDE Awards later this year.

When the PRIDE Awards began, staff were recognized in four categories. Since then, the number of categories has increased to ten.

“The PRIDE awards are unique to the Atlanta Region and not a nationwide program,” says Jarrett. “I am very pleased that after 30 years the Atlanta Region continues to recognize the DDS staff in such a prestigious manner.”

Congratulations to the following individuals and group winners of the SC DDS 2014 PRIDE awards!

   Support Person of the Year
   Courtney Simmons, Columbia

   Staff Person of the Year
   Desha Posey, Columbia

   Examiner of the Year
   Patricia Neville, Charleston

   Rookie Examiner of the Year
   Heather Appel, Greenville

   Medical Consultant of the Year
   Dr. Stephen Wissman, Charleston

   Staff Supervisor of the Year
   Gloria Clunan, Greenville

   Case Processing Supervisor of the Year
   Allen Cooper, Greenville

   Office of State Claims Excellence Award
   Amy Mayne, Columbia

   Carl C. Fullbright Humanitarian Award
   Rosalyn Porterfield, Charleston

   Mary Simmons Special Acts of Service Award
   Deidre Fulmer, Columbia; Bryan Brown, Charleston;
   Sylvie Hasapis, Charleston

   Thomas M. Leahy Creative Achievement Award
   The Assistance Request Workgroup, Columbia (Deidre Fulmer,
   Sherrie Cathcart, Cyndi Crolley, Teresa Dorman, Marianne Phillips,
   Missouri Moultrie, Natasha Mitchell, and Taji Caughman);
   Sherlyn Johnson, Charleston; Candy Harmon, Columbia;
   and Wanda Scott, Greenville

Around the state

Transition services and Rehab Engineering featured at AT Expo

Jonathan Cruce, SCVRD Rehabilitaton Engineer, demonstrates to a packed audience how high school and college students with disabilities can use a smartpen and tablet to take and record notes in the classroom.

More than 250 people from around the state converged on the annual SC Assistive Technology Expo on March 26 at the Brookland Banquet and Conference Center in Columbia.

The event, which is free to the public, featured 12 workshops and more than 50 exhibitors. This year’s theme was Dream, Believe, Achieve.

Jonathan Cruce, SCVRD Rehabiltation Engineer, along with Carolyn Phillips of Tools for Life, Georgia’s Assistive Technology Act Program at Georgia Tech, and Jason Ray, Vice President of SimplyHome, a provider of assistive technology to independent living and aging in place, presented the workshop Ready to Launch. They presented strategies and tools to help young adults move from high school to “real life” at work, in higher education, and in the community. They showed how different programs use assistive technology to help young adults with various disabilities (including autism) live more independently, such as the CarolinaLIFE Program and SimplyHome.

In addition to illustrating Rehabilitation Technology solutions, Cruce highlighted VR’s Transition Services, Youth Leadership Forum, summer programs, and Disability Mentoring Day.

Joe Anthony, SCVRD Rehabilitaton Engineer.

Joe Anthony, SCVRD Rehabilitition Engineer, and presenters from the SC Assistive Techonology Program, EnableTech, SC Department of Mental Health, Homeworks and Kehoe Constructors headed the Common Accessibility Barriers that Prevent “Visitability” workshop. They presented a “how to” session demonstrating how small construction solutions can improve the useability of homes, offices, places of worship or faith based buildings, and other locations for people with motor, hearing and vision loss.

Other workshops presented tools that help people of all ages with communication challenges; using robots and other electronic technology to help older people and high school graduates live more independently; how to make offices, homes, places of worship or other places more accessible to clients or visitors with disabilities; making life and work easier for anyone who uses a computer, iPhone, iPad or similar device; creating accessible documents with Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat; and creating accessible web sites.

Getting “Plugged In” in Seneca

Photo: A view of some of the many booths manned by non-profits as part of the inaugural “Get Plugged In” event held at the Gignilliat Community Center in Seneca.

The following story contains information and quotes excerpted with permission from the Seneca Journal, which provided excellent coverage of this SCVRD-sponsored event.

“Get Plugged In,” held in the Gignilliat Community Center gym on April 16, gave many individuals the opportunity to speak one-on-one with 20 local and area non-profit agencies.

“Those who attended said it was very beneficial and they appreciated the opportunity to connect with other families and service agencies in our community who understand their challenges and needs,” says Anna Connelly, VR Business Development Specialist.

The event, which the Oconee-Pickens VR office plans to hold on an annual basis, helped to introduce people to the wide variety of services that exist in the community.

Participating agencies included Palmetto Youth Connections, the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, the Tribble Center, Clemson LIFE, Tamassee DAR School, Heath’s Haven, Family Friends, Seneca Police Department, South Carolina DHEC Upstate Region and Golden Corner Food Pantry.

Gene Williams, director of Oconee County Adult Education, said he wanted to make locals aware of the new High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED). Since January 1, the State Board of Education must offer a pencil and paper high school equivalency diploma test as an alternative to the computer-based General Education Development (GED) test.

Williams also provided information about WorkKeys and the literacy program. “This is a good way to network and come together,” he says.

Sgt. Lisa Williams of the Seneca Police Department, who distributed gun locks to those in attendance, said, “A lot of people will call me about a problem and want to know where to go. This is a great way to share information and let people know where they can go and put faces with the agencies.”

Other organizations that participated included Family Friends, a family-mentoring project sponsored by Oconee County DSS and United Way of Oconee County; CU Succeed, a community outreach program that provides resources and services to help teen parents be successful; and Golden Corner Food Pantry, which has been providing food to families in need to Oconee County for more than three decades.

Pam Smith, Area Supervisor for the Oconee and Pickens VR offices in Seneca, said she is pleased with the way so many entities collaborated to make “Get Plugged In” a success.

The feedback that Anna Connelly received stated that the event “provided a large variety of community services” and was “a great social experience for the families attending.”

Photo: Linda Davis (right), founder of Amazing Young Adults, and her daughter, Gina at the “Get Plugged In” conference at the Gignilliat Center in Seneca on April 16. Amazing Young Adults of South Carolina was founded in October 2012, by Linda, mother of a 21 year old daughter with a disability. It is a social group for young adults with disabilities ages 18-30, providing friendship connections, fun, support and encourages independence and self-advocacy. “We encourage youth with less significant disabilities to get involved in Amazing Young Adults in order to be role models for their peers,” says Linda.

Involved in the community

The Camden Area Participated in the 8th annual Clinic Classic that benefits the Kershaw County Free Clinic. The Kershaw County Free Clinic is a family practice medical clinic that provides healthcare to the uninsured residents of Kershaw County.

Photo (l to r): Nikki Petiwala, Counselor; Robbie Truesdale, ACE/JPI; Melinda Cashion, ATS; Tawana Tobias, Counselor; Jamison McClam Job Coach; Pam Company, Area Supervisor; Summer Rigby, ACSM.

Clients learn about golf course maintanence and turf management

VR clients recently toured the Coastal Carolina University (CCU) Sports facilities as part of the first Introduction to Golf and Sports Turf Management class.

“This new class is part of our ongoing effort to offer our clients training that will prepare them to get jobs in the industries that are prevalent in our community,” says David Edwards, business development specialist for Horry-Georgetown. “Horry Georgetown Technical College is a strong partner and willing collaborator.”

Participants received a classroom orientation that included career possibilities, and overviews of soil, turf, and insect control. They then toured the CCU Hackler Golf Course Maintenance facility and the football and baseball fields.

Photo: VR clients get a firsthand look at Brooks Stadium from Rick McGuinnes (right), Professor and Department Chair of the Horry Georgetown Technical College Sports Turf Management Program, and his staff.

Q Quotes

Abilities wither under faultfinding, blossom under encouragement.

—Donald A. Laird, author

Did you know...

…that 29 South Carolina counties are now certified as Work Ready Communities, an initiative that showcases the skilled workforce that businesses require in a competitive economy. SCVRD is a partner agency in this initiative.

“We are well on our way to becoming the nation’s first certified work ready state,” says Gov. Nikki Haley. “This is a perfect example of Team South Carolina coming together to prove how committed we are to training a highly skilled workforce that is capable of meeting every need a company in our state may have.”

To achieve certification through the South Carolina Work Ready Communities (SCWRC) initiative, which began in 2013, a county must reach or exceed goals in earning National Career Readiness Certificates (achieved through WorkKeys® testing), meet or exceed the three-year graduation rate average or improvement percentage, and demonstrate to businesses a strong local workforce and commitment to economic growth.

View a map of certified counties.

For more information, visit www.scworkready.org.

Events

Greenville
May 2 - Employment Coach Jill Vaughn will lead Team Greenville in participating in Hands on Greenville (HOG), the largest day of volunteer service in the state of SC. Volunteers will spread throughout Greenville and surrounding areas to repair cabins at campgrounds for people with disabilities, paint playground equipment and murals at public schools, landscape the grounds of local shelters, and beautify nearby state and city parks.
  For more information, call 864-229-5827 or 866-443-0162
Columbia
May 15 - 12pm-2pm -The South Carolina Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities will honor one small, medium and large SC business for their exemplary practices in hiring and providing leadership in utilizing the abilities that people with disabilities have to offer.
July 8-10 - The SC Youth Leadership Forum (YLF), an annual career leadership program for high school juniors and seniors (or high school students between the ages of 17-21) with disabilities who have leadership aspirations in both their school and community, will be held at Columbia College and the Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School. Students will enhance and grow their leadership, citizenship and social skills while taking part in activities enabling them to network, learn from each other and build lasting friendships. Get more information at ylf.scvrd.net.
July 24, 8am-4:30pm - Life with Brain Injury Statewide Conference at the Columbia Conference Center, 169 Laurelhurst Avenue, Columbia, SC. Get more information from the Brain Injury Association of South Carolina.

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.