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

Filling workforce needs in Bamberg

Cayce Rast, Pharmacy Technician at Hiers Drug Store in Bamberg, SC.

When Eddie Sanders decided to return to his hometown of Bamberg to open an independently owned pharmacy, he never realized the challenges he would face in finding a qualified pharmacy technician.

“I had plans to hire a technician from another pharmacy in the area that was changing owners,” explains Sanders, who is also a pharmacist, “but unfortunately that didn’t work out.”

Sanders remembers being stressed not knowing if he could find someone. He wanted a candidate with experience, who was technically capable, and that understood the importance of good customer service.

“In a small community like Bamberg, you not only have a limited pool of technicians to hire from, but you have a limited pool of patients,” he says, “so you have to make sure you are very attentive to your customers needs.”

Kitty Bamberg, Business Development Specialist for the Orangeburg Area, met Sanders during the grand opening of Hiers Drug Store in April of 2015. In this community, a new business coming to town is a big deal. She learned that Sanders was familiar with VR services, having worked with them in Aiken where he had been employed at a larger pharmacy.

Once Bamberg understood what Sanders was looking for in an applicant she started searching for just the right candidate.

“I knew he wanted someone with prior experience working in a drug store, but more importantly someone who was going to take care of the customer’s needs,” she says.

Around that time, Bamberg met Cayce Rast, a recent graduate from Clemson University who had a degree in biology. When Cayce came to VR in January of 2015, she was experiencing significant hearing loss and wanted help finding employment. She had decided to move back home to Bamberg even though she knew finding a job would be challenging. She also had concerns about her hearing impairment, which she felt would add to her challenge.

“The staff at VR was very helpful,” recalls Cayce. “They took the time to work with Carolina ENT to help with my hearing impairment and they also helped me figure out what opportunities were available in the community.”

Cayce was excited to learn about the pharmacy technician position from Bamberg.

“She had worked in a pharmacy before and with her degree in biology was interested in one day becoming a pharmacist,” explains Bamberg, who arranged for Cayce to intern at Hiers Drug Store.

A couple of weeks into the twelve week internship Bamberg stopped by to check on Cayce’s progress. Sanders explained that he had sent Cayce to a pharmacy in Winnsboro, SC for two weeks to learn a specialized computer system which she would then teach to him. However, Cayce was returning after only a few days because she had already learned the entire system.

“Within two days I knew Cayce was what I needed,” says an enthusiastic Sanders. “She is from a generation that has computer skills and understands the importance of helping the customers. She has even helped increase my business by knowing people in the community.”

Bamberg says that Cayce looks forward to one day going to pharmacy school and feels that her time at Hiers Drug Store will help prepare her for that career.

“I am so very thankful for VR’s services that helped me land a wonderful job,” proclaims Cayce. “Without their help, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Sanders is equally thankful.

“I could not be more pleased with VR and Cayce,” he says.“It has been a success for all three parties involved: Cayce, VR, and my business.”

Eddie Sanders is the pharmacist and owner of Hiers Drug Store in Bamberg, SC.

Around the state

What a difference VR makes

The following story was provided by the South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Association:

He wasn’t always the best student. Sometimes he got in trouble at school. And it wasn’t beyond him to use the spinal cord injury to get sympathy.

Some thirty years later Sherwood Toatley looks back at himself as a teenager with a disability who had a lot of growing up to do. He shared his story with a group of teens and recent high school grads on the campus of the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department in West Columbia.

The group was participating in the STEPS Program, hosted by VR for young people with disabilities. Combining speakers, activities, and group discussions, the program helps youth making the transition from high school into adulthood. Topics include managing responsibility, finances, living independently, and interviewing skills.

Toatley sustained an incomplete C1/2 spinal cord injury at the age of 11 when attempting a bicycle stunt. He first became a VR client while attending Irmo High School. After graduation he went through the comprehensive program at VR’s Evaluation Center to assess his physical abilities, aptitudes, and vocational needs that would impact him in the work force. That same summer he also started volunteering with a spinal cord and brain injury support group at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital in Columbia.

While at HealthSouth he found out about an opening at the hospital for a part-time switchboard operator. Toatley recalled, “In 1989 hiring someone who uses a wheelchair was a big thing. The Americans with Disabilities Act wasn’t passed until 1990, so you didn’t see a lot of people with disabilities working out in public, let alone at the front desk when people first walked in the door.” Yet Toatley landed the job. “So while I started out as a volunteer with the support group at HealthSouth that led into part-time employment, which later turned into full-time work,” he said.

Toatley encouraged the youth not only to pursue volunteer opportunities, but to take an active role in creating a future for themselves. “I’ve seen clients go through the motions at the Evaluation Center. The ones that really want something are the ones that get the most out of VR’s services. You have to be willing to do your part,” he said.

After three years at HealthSouth Toatley was ready for something else. Inspired by a television show about a 9-1-1 operator, he decided that’s what he wanted to do. He soon found out that a requirement for the job was to be certified as an emergency medical technician. “I couldn’t do the physical lifting expected of an EMT, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me,” he said. So he found out that a comparable position in a neighboring county didn’t have the same requirement and applied there. He spent the next twenty years in 9-1-1 communications.

When shoulder problems began slowing him down, Toatley took medical retirement five years ago. He later returned to work on a part-time basis, handling payroll, scheduling, and other administrative functions. “At one point I was in charge of 16 employees, with people looking to me for leadership and guidance,” he said. He stressed that his accomplishments on the job came from a personal drive to succeed. “If you are determined you want to get a job or go to school, show that determination to your counselor and fight for yourself out there. I didn’t let my disability get in the way; don’t let yours stop you either.”

Find out more about the South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Association.

What not to wear to an interview

The Gaffney office held a “What Not to Wear to an Interview” runway show on January 15.

Fourteen VR staff members dressed up in their “not so chic” attire to show 24 clients how dressing for success is a part of their path to employment. It was a fun learning experience for all.

Q Quotes

The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.

—Bob Marley

Did you know...

...that the Business Partnership Network (BPN) has grown to more than 500 members?

The BPN is a joint effort of public and private employers and VR. Benefits of the BPN include:

  • being recognized as a leader in community workforce development
  • the opportunity to teach classes on fundamental life skills and job preparedness
  • providing input to shape in-demand training
  • networking with other businesses
  • sharing best practices

Find out more about the BPN at vrbpn.scvrd.net.


February 3 - The Greenville area office will hold their annual Worksite Health Screening.
February 17 - Bounce Back event to provide information and resources to clients and individuals who are or were involved with SCDC, PPP or other legal issues.
  For more information, call 864-297-3066
Bryant Center
February 4 - Graduation for Business Application Plus clients.
  For more information, call 864-249-8030 or 888-322-9391
February 8 - Lunch ’n’ Learn with the Lexington Medical Cardiac Rehab Department at Lexington Medical Center. For more information, contact Christa Jefferson at 803-896-6322.
February 9 - Project SEARCH Transition Fair at Irmo High School.
February 26 - Empowering a Future Transition Conference at the USC Alumni Center in Columbia, SC. This one day conference brings together professionals who work with young adults with disabilities ages 13-28.
  For more information, call 803-896-6333 or 866-206-5184
February 24 - Job Fair.
  For more information, call 843-761-6036 or 866-297-6808
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

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.