VR3: Making a Difference
Q1, Quality One, Quality happens one person at a time
Vocational Rehabilitation, Lets go to work
VR3  Ready...Reliable...Results January 2016

Hollis retires; Getsinger new Commissioner

After 27 years of dedicated service to the citizens of South Carolina, Barbara G. Hollis retired as Commissioner of the Vocational Rehabilitation Department (VR).

A Cayce resident and native of Chesterfield, Hollis joined VR as a counselor in 1988 and became Commissioner in January 2009. She effectively managed the agency through a period of significant budget reductions and economic downturn that impacted employment opportunities for agency clients, and then successfully worked to generate support for restoration of funding and staffing. Last year, more than 6,700 individuals with disabilities became employed after receiving VR services statewide, signifying a 24% increase over the previous two years.

She recognized the state’s critical need for enhanced school-to-work transition services and implemented increased services for students with disabilities well in advance of new federal regulations requiring greater emphasis on that population.

Hollis also implemented the Quality One (Q1) initiative emphasizing a “one person at a time” approach in assisting clients by providing individualized services and training to enhance their self-sufficiency and quality of life through successful employment. This also fulfills business and industry partner needs for well-prepared employees who can meet the demands of the state’s labor market.

“Her passionate, clear focus on meeting the needs of South Carolinians with disabilities in an efficient, cost-effective manner has been impressive,” says VR agency board chair Dr. Roxzanne Breland of Greenville. “With her leadership and commitment we were well prepared to respond to the challenges and changes presented during her tenure.”

The agency continues to be a national leader in cost-effectiveness per rehabilitation and in the number of successful employment outcomes in proportion to population.

Neal Getsinger of Mount Pleasant has been appointed as the agency’s new Commissioner, beginning January 3. Getsinger brings 24 years of well-rounded VR experience gained through roles as a counselor; supervisor of Palmetto Center in Florence, a substance abuse treatment facility; Charleston area supervisor; area development director; assistant commissioner; and most recently as deputy commissioner overseeing field operations statewide.

“With his years of diverse experience, professionalism, strong work ethic, and client-centered approach, he has clearly demonstrated his ability to lead and move the agency to the next level of excellence,” says Breland.

“I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead as we prepare our citizens with disabilities to achieve and maintain competitive employment,” says Getsinger. “It is a time of exciting job development in South Carolina’s business community and we will continue to strive to equip our clients for success in market-driven careers.”

Prior to his service with VR Getsinger worked seven years with the Department of Juvenile Justice. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Charleston Southern University and a master’s of education degree in counseling and guidance services from Clemson University. He is a native of Anderson.

Around the state

Firehouse Subs helps client achieve success

Rion Holcombe received the surprise of his life when he was accepted into the ClemsonLIFE program at Clemson University. Designed for students with intellectual disabilities, the program provides them with a postsecondary campus experience aimed at enhancing independent living and employment related skills.

Shortly thereafter, Rion, who was born with Down syndrome, met with Spartanburg counselor Barbara Rhodes to begin preparing for his college experience and summer jobs. “Rion is very friendly,” says Rhodes, “and very involved in his community.”

Rion’s reaction to being accepted into ClemsonLIFE had been videoed and posted to YouTube. The video went viral, which led to several interviews by multiple newspapers. During one interview, he expressed his desire to work at Firehouse Subs, and the comment found its way to a Firehouse Subs representative.

It wasn’t long before Rion was employed by Firehouse Subs. Spartanburg Job Coach Tiffany Smith helped him settle into his part-time summer dream job.

“Whether it’s helping him learn job duties like wiping tables, wrapping pickles, sign waving, or taking sandwiches to customers at their table, Rion always has a smile on his face,” says Smith.

“It was especially heartwarming to see his smile the day he got his first paycheck!” she recalls. “He exclaimed, ‘This is mine? To do what I want?’”

Rion continues to attend the ClemsonLIFE program while working at the Firehouse Subs in Clemson several days a week.

Find out more about ClemsonLIFE.

Lancaster DMD

The Lancaster office held its Disability Mentoring Day on October 12, 2015. Students toured the Bank of America stadium, home to the Carolina Panthers, and learned about the various behind-the-scenes jobs there. The tour gave the students the opportunity to see the daily operations of the Panthers organization and introduced them to future employment and career possibilities. Participants also learned a variety of ways to improve overall health through exercise and enjoyed a picnic at Freedom Park in Charlotte, NC.

Central High senior Cedric Jefferies, pictured at right next to the Panthers statue, has participated in a school-based internship sponsored by VR. He assists the high school coaches with the weekly duties that keep the Central High Eagles game-ready. During the tour he learned how he can do a similar job with the Carolina Panthers after he graduates. He is looking forward to this possibility.

Parenting workshop in Lancaster

Amber Lydford (pictured at right), VR Benefits Specialist, conducted a parent workshop for students receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) at Lancaster High on November 12, 2015. The presentation included information about income limits, work incentives, and reporting procedures. Deirdre Cato, counselor, also spoke to parents about the benefits of working with Vocational Rehabilitation. Parents, school staff, and students attended.

Sumter office participates in transition fair

Read about it in the Sumter Item, December 11, 2015.

High school lunch and learn in Laurens

The Laurens office hosted Laurens High School seniors for an informational session and lunch on December 15, 2015. Students explored their next steps toward seeking careers after graduation. They learned about the benefits of maintaining their partnership with their VR counselor, toured the work training center, and received information on tuition assistance.

Greenwood staff recognized for 10 years of service

Photo (left to right): Greenwood staff members Arthur Kemp, Peggy Merritt, and Everett Land received their 10 year service pins during the Client, Retiree, Staff and Advisory Board Christmas Luncheon on December 11, 2015.

Door contest adds to holiday cheer

Janet Spires, Nurse Supervisor, and Roneita Brooks, Nurse, stand next to the winner of the door decorating contest put on by the Evaluation Center, Muscular Development Center and IT Training Center in West Columbia.

Fifteen doors were decorated by a mixture of clients and staff, and the doors were judged by staff from the State Office.

First place, second place and two runners up were chosen, with bragging rights awarded to the door judged most merry. “Cuppie,” as the door was affectionately named by nurse Brooks, was chosen for the artistic flair and technical prowess it took to complete it.

Q Quotes

Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.

—Lou Holtz

Did you know...

The first South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Commissioner (at that time referred to as Director) was R.C. Thompson?

Thompson served from 1927-1928. During that time Vocational Rehabilitation Services was under the South Carolina Department of Education. It wasn’t until 1957 that the General Assembly created a separate state agency.


January 4 - Winter Tour for Newberry and Laurens high school students, including the Center for Advanced Manufacturing, University of South Caroline in Union and Presbyterian College. Students will explore a variety of post secondary education and career opportunities.
January 20 - Business Partnership Network meeting. A discussion of the services available at Holmesview Center for for employees who have addictions issues.
  For more information, call 864-984-6563 or 866-443-0103
January 7 - Job Fair for Belk Distribution.
  For more information, call 864-585-3693 or 866-451-1480
January 8 - Lunch ’n’ Learn with local employment agencies.
January 12 - The Business Partnership Network breakfast will inform local businesses about VR’s substance abuse treatment services.
  For more information, call 803-432-1068 or 866-206-5280
January 11 and 15 - As part of a continuing opportunity to explore industries in the Greenwood area, students participating in the High School/High Tech program will tour Greenwood Mills.
  For more information, call 864-229-5827 or 866-443-0162
January 12 - Business Partnership Network meeting to plan an upcoming Manufacturing Job Fair.
  For more information, call 803-534-4939
January 29 - Business Partnership Network meeting. Jonathan Cruce of VR’s Rehabilitation Technology Services will be the speaker.
  For more information, call 864-882-6669 or 866-313-0082
February 25 - Business Partnership Network Lunch ’n’ Learn.
March 16 - Bounce Back event. Will provide information and resources to clients and individuals who are or were involved with SCDC, PPP or other legal issues.
  For more information, call 843-354-5252

Events listed on Eventbrite

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.