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

WorkKeys opens doors to success

Photo: VR client John Matthews recently completed an on-the-job training at KMS Metal Fabrication.

When Kerri Dolan reviewed John Matthews’ resume, one thing caught her eye immediately: WorkKeys®. Dolan, the Human Resources Manager at KMS Metal Fabrication in Columbia, saw the silver WorkKeys score and said, “That tells me he can do almost any job that we have.”

Soon after, John began a four-week extended on-the-job training with KMS, a precision metal fabrication shop that primarily fabricates parts for Trane and Carrier air conditioner units. John works in the PEMS area, which is named after a type of swage, or self-clinching, nut that is attached to sheet metal components.

“This is a great example of how WorkKeys expands our client’s ability to be considered for employment,” says Stephen Marshall, Business Services Specialist.

WorkKeys measures an individual’s capabilities in three foundational areas: reading for information, locating information and applied mathematics. It’s not an academic assessment, but is based on workplace skills utilized in thousands of jobs.

“The first thing employers want to know, particularly with individuals who have a disability, is does this person have the skills to do the job?” says Kim Mann, Transition Specialist. “When an applicant can show a WorkKeys certification, that gives them a big advantage in the hiring process.”

A variety of industries utilize WorkKeys, including manufacturing, information technology and healthcare. Some of VR’s business partners that have WorkKeys requirements are Boeing, Adidas, Bosch and Nestlé. Additionally, many technical colleges use WorkKeys as a prerequisite for certificate training programs, such as the SC Manufacturing Certification.

“Counselors should discuss WorkKeys with their clients as part of the first step of coming into VR,” says Mann. Not only will WorkKeys help clients when they apply for employment, but “we can use that assessment to explore vocational objectives and career paths that best meet our clients’ needs.”

WorkKeys assessments are utilized by employers nationwide, and successfully completing the three foundational areas can lead to earning a National Career Readiness Certificate™.

To conduct WorkKeys assessments, VR partners with Adult Education, which administers the assessments to clients in each VR office around the state.

The Camden VR office was recently recognized for its partnership with Adult Education and the use of WorkKeys in helping adult students reach their employment goals (see “Camden is Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce Business Partner of the Year” in this issue).

Based on a person’s scores on the three assessments, he or she may earn a bronze, silver, gold or platinum level. Each level indicates the type of skills that person has and increases the number and type of employment opportunities he or she may qualify for.

South Carolina high schools are now required to offer WorkKeys to each student in the eleventh grade.

“It gives them a credential that can help them transition into a job, or can help them figure out what career path they may want to pursue based on the skills they have,” says Mann.

She adds that it’s very important for VR clients to always include WorkKeys information on their résumé and application when applying for a job. “Even though not all companies use it as part of their hiring criteria, many know about it and recognize the value of WorkKeys.”

Dolan agrees. She points out that KMS does not actually use WorkKeys as a requirement, but because her previous employer did, she was very familiar with it.

“When I saw that John had a high score plus a general degree in engineering from Piedmont Tech, I knew he would be a good fit for us.”

Photo: Matthews operates the “PEM” machine, attaching self-clinching nuts to formed sheet metal.

John has been enjoying the hands-on experience that this training opportunity is providing him. He likes being part of a team and making sure that each product is made correctly. According to Dolan, John’s supervisor, who is very particular because of the precision required, said, “After working with John for a few days, I don’t have to check behind him because I know it’s right.”

As the on-the-job training was coming to an end, KMS offered John a full time position, which will begin the second week of June. In the email notifying Marshall of this, she added, “Please send me ten more just like John.”

John is thrilled about the opportunity and about setting the bar for the quality and capability of VR clients.

“It’s great,” he says with a smile.

To learn more about WorkKeys, visit act.org/workkeys.

Around the state

Camden is Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce Business Partner of the Year

Photo: Summer Rigby (second from right) of SC Voc Rehab, shows off one of two Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce Business Partner of the Year Awards. The Chamber presented the award to SC Voc Rehab during its annual gala May 13 for being a “strong supporter and vital partner of Kershaw County Adult Education” which has “provided an invaluable service to Kershaw County citizens.” Chamber officials said the partnership between SC Voc Rehab and Kershaw County Adult Ed through WorkKeys and a GED referral process has helped adult students reach their educational and employment goals. On hand for the presentation (from left) are Robbie Truesdale, SC Voc Rehab; Central Carolina Technical College President Tim Hardee; Chamber President Amy Kinard; Weyland Burns and Bridgett Bailey with Applied Technology Education Campus Adult Ed; and Chamber First Vice President Dennis Ray.

Reprinted from the Chronicle-Independent (Camden, SC), Friday, May 20, 2016.

Community involvement: Marlboro

“Why VR” was the theme for the Community VR Awareness Fair hosted by the Marlboro Area Office at the Darlington Public Library on March 29.

VR representatives introduced participants from local government agencies, businesses, law enforcement, and the community to the various VR services.

Second year Project SEARCH graduates in Spartanburg

Photo (left to right): Project SEACH 2016 graduates Wesley Simmons, Jasper Sawyer, Lyric Robinson, Luis Luna-Romero, Daniel Harris, Keith Gearwar, Whitney Davis, Marissa Butler.

Congratulations to the second year Project SEARCH interns who were recognized at a graduation ceremony on May 23 at Spartanburg Medical Center (SMC).

More than 90 family members, hospital staff and guests attended and celebrated the accomplishments of the eight interns.

“We didn’t know the magnitude of this program,” says Phil Feisal, President of SMC, “but, oh how it changed the hospital system. We think that the interns get the most out of this program, but in actuality it’s us.”

Project SEARCH is a school-to-work transition program providing education and job training to students with intellectual, physical and developmental disabilities. Each student participates in three 10 to 11 week internships in a variety of departments throughout SMC over a school year.

Seven of the students have moved into competitive employment—six at SMC and one elsewhere. Project SEARCH graduates are employed throughout SMC in Environmental Services, Material Services/Linen Services, Central Patient Transport, Endoscopy and Morrison’s Dining Service.

In reflecting on the past year and how he came to be part of Project SEARCH, intern Jasper Sawyer spoke about how the relationships he‘s built, particularly with his mentor, have helped him find a future at SMC. He summed it up by saying, “Friendships of the past are part of your present and will carry you into the future.”

Project SEARCH is a collaborative partnership between Spartanburg School District 6, VR, the local Workforce Investment Board, and SMC.

Community involvement: Aiken

Photo: Senator Shane Massey spoke about legislative issues that impact individuals with disabilities at the Aiken Multiple Sclerosis Self Help Group on May 21, 2016.

Photos by staff brighten office

Photo (left to right): Thomas Lawrence, Counselor; Kelly Wright, Job Readiness Training Associate; Tiffany Smith, Job Coach; and Tim Geter, Center Manager hold some of the photographs they took of Spartanburg which are now displayed throughout the office.

The Spartanburg Area Office recently held a “signing party” to recognize the creativity and photographic skills of four of their staff whose photographs have been selected for display throughout the office.

In addition to signing each of the canvas prints, the four photographers also signed “limited edition” prints of their photos which were eagerly snapped up by fellow staff members.

Spartanburg is one of several offices which has held a photo contest to produce canvas wall hangings of local-themed photos for display in their facility. The photo contest is an opportunity for staff to show their creativity and appreciation of their community.

Offices which have—or will soon have—photographs by staff members on display include Charleston, Walterboro and Beaufort.

Community involvement: Greenville

Counselors Ginny Hughes and Christine Nemshick-Lauer and Area Supervisor David Turnipseed recently attended the 2016 Annual Diabetes Advisory Board Meeting at the GHS Life Center. The positive impact of GHS’s Diabetes Self Management Program along with national updates were reviewed. Michelle Stancil, RN, BSN, CDE and Manager, Diabetes Management, reports that, “From diabetes education cost assistance to tools to self-manage diabetes, our clients have benefited greatly from Vocational Rehabilitation. We are thankful for our working relationship and the great service your team provides.”

Photo (left to right): Kathleen Fincher, RD, CDE; Robyn Peeler, RN, Diabetes Educator; Jonda Dawson, RN, CDE; Michelle Stancil, RN, CDE; Stacey Gernert RD, CDE; Jana Pilkington, RN, CDE; Sheri Braband, Business Office Representative; Becky Ledford, RN, CDE; Christine Nemshick-Lauer, Counselor; Cindy Thomas, RD, CDE; Ylva Byars RN, CDE. Back row: Ginny Hughes, VR Counselor; Casey Fiocchi RD, CDE.

The Greenville area office participated in Ten at the Top, a workforce development forum featuring former Walgreens Senior Executive Randy Lewis, where employers learned about the many benefits of employing people with disabilities.

Photo (left to right): Bernard Jones, Business Development Specialist; Virginia D’Alessandro, Counselor; David Turnipseed, Greenville Area Supervisor; Lisa Gillespie, Anderson Area Supervisor; Randy Lewis, retired Walgreens Senior Vice President; Kerry Reece, Job Coach.

Team “SCVRD Valiant Rabblerousers” from the Greenville area office participated in a team walk at Furman University for NAMIWalks, a public display of support for people with mental health challenges that seeks to change how Americans view mental illness, and improve lives in our communities, one step at a time. The Greenville area office raised $2,000 for this event!

Photo (left to right), front row: Blaine White, Greer Center Manager; Jessica Stroud, Administrative Team Support Specialist, and her daughter, Sara; Greenville Drive mascot Reedy Rip-It!; Shayla Sanders, Counselor, and her daughter, Eliza, and son, Princeton; Suzanne Price, Transition Job Coach and granddaughter, Blythe Skelly. Middle row: Rachel Roback, Counselor Intern; Cindy Hernandez, Administrative Team Support Specialist; Chasynie Easter, Administrative Team Support Specialist; Virginia D’Alessandro, Counselor and son, Gus. Back row: Bernard Jones, Business Development Specialist; Brett Murray; David Turnipseed, Greenville Area Supervisor and daughter, Laney; Mike Laney, Greenville Center Manager and daughter, Hannah; David Turnipseed, Sr.; Cindy Turnipseed; Deborah Hatton, Administrative Team Support Specialist.

Greenville held a Hiring Event on April 27th which featured an array of diverse employers including Bi-Lo; Embassy Suites; Taco Bell; Chili’s; Defender Services; Waffle House; Ashmore Brothers, Inc.; WIS International; Omnisource Staffing; WorkSmart Staffing; and CompX National.

Lee Miller participated in a Skilled Workforce Apprenticeship Training (SWAT) at North American Rescue (NAR), a long term VR business partner. NAR makes emergency medical and rescue equipment for military and civilian use.

“NAR is a great business partner,” says Blaine White, Center Manager of the Greer Job Readiness Training Center. “They look for capability not the disability.”

Business Development Specialist Bernard Jones worked with NAR to establish the SWAT opportunity. Upon completing the SWAT, Miller was hired by NAR.

“Lee has been an asset to the team,” says Rick Krainas, Manager of Assembly Operations at NAR. He points out Lee’s strengths as being very detailed and computer savvy and very responsible for his age. “He is able to work well with a wide range of ages. People come to him for guidance. It is a pleasure to have him here.”

Miller says that the best part of his job is teaching new trainees that are assigned to his production line.

As part of the SWAT, interpreter services and Deaf awareness information were provided to NAR’s staff to improve communication and cultural awareness.

Miller continues to excel in his position. He expresses his gratitude to his counselor, Shayla Sanders, and BDS, Bernard Jones, for this opportunity.

Photo (left to right): Bernard Jones, Business Development Specialist; Rick Krainas, Manager of Assembly Operations at North American Rescue; Lee Miller, client; Shayla Sanders, Counselor; Blaine White, Greer Center Manager.

Community involvement: Gaffney

Photo: Gaffney and Union County High School Students try out some of the equipment during the recent York Technical College Heavy Equipment Program tour. Left to right: Martavius Smith, Jim White, Nathan Arrington, Matthew Still, Jordan Littlejohn, and Patrick Trisler.


Photo: Staff at the Gaffney VR office proudly wear their “orange” to show their support for “Prevention of Animal Cruelty month.” Staff collected pet food and toys for the local Meals on Wheels which were provided to pet owners.

Client update: Rion Holcombe

Rion Holcombe, an attendee of the ClemsonLIFE program at Clemson University (see the January 2016 issue of VR3) recently visited the Spartanburg office to let them know he has been offered two jobs in Spartanburg. According to his counselor, Barbara Rhodes, and Job Coach, Tiffany Smith, one is with the YMCA as a slide attendant in their indoor pool area and the other is at Advanced Therapy where he will help with maintaining therapy equipment and greeting patients.

Rion plans to learn and work at both jobs with the help of his job coach.

Mock Job Fair in Williamsburg

The Williamsburg Area Staff provided resources for and participated in a Mock Job Fair at the Williamsburg Federal Correctional Institute in Salters on April 28. The Mock Job Fair helps to prepare individuals who successfully complete Release Preparation Program (RPP) training.

The goal of the RPP is to engage the community in understanding and addressing the re-entry needs of incarcerated individuals. The classes offered help individuals successfully transition from incarceration to civilian life and reduce the likelihood that they will return to prison.

Photo (left to right): Preese Abraham, Counselor; David Wiggins, Business Development Specialist/Job Preparedness Instructor.

Q Stories

The following comments are from two clients who recently participated in the Comprehensive Evaluation Center in West Columbia:

–I want to thank everyone at the Evaluation Center. The building is so clean and well maintained. The cafeteria staff serves you great food with a smile. [Thanks to] the OT, PT and all the instructors for their professionalism, kindness, compassion. A change has occurred in my life for the better.

–I am pleased beyond my expectations with the positive and nurturing environment you so gracefully provided me. I will continue what you have started with me, and thank you with all my heart.

Did you know...

• More than 3 million people across the United States used WorkKeys to earn a National Career Readiness Certificate™.

• More than 2,500 businesses use WorkKeys.

• More than 18,000 jobs are profiled as part of WorkKeys.

• More than 10 million WorkKeys assessments have been given.

• WorkKeys helps businesses reduce turnover, increased productivity and improve quality.

Find out more at act.org/workkeys.


Lyman (Bryant Center)

The Bryant Center is accepting referrals for its two-week Summer Transition Program. Students attending each session will participate in physical therapy or exercise; take part in simulated work experiences and learn independent living skills through occupational therapy; enhance leadership, teamwork and communication skills; explore careers and post-secondary interests; and engage in mock interviews and other job preparedness activities.

Sessions will meet Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9am-1pm.

Students and recent graduates who are interested in attending should contact their VR counselor.

For more details, download the flyer.

June 6-17 - Session 1.
July 11-22 - Session 2.
August 1-12 - Session 3.
  For more information, call 864-249-8030 or 888-322-9391
Evaluation Center

Learn leadership, teamwork, communication, self-advocacy and other skills while exploring career and college options at the two week Summer Transition Evaluation Program for Students (STEPS). Build your strength and stamina, gain independent living skills and participate in simulated work experiences. Two sessions are available. Each is different, to meet the different needs of our students:

Students who are interested in attending should contact their VR counselor.

Otherwise, to refer a student, complete a referral form and indicate which session is preferred.

For more details, download the flyer.

June 13-24 - Session 1: STEPS. For students transitioning to college or technical schools.
July 11-22 - Session 2: STEPS. For students transitioning to work.
  For more information, contact Ali Cato at 803-896-6040
June 6 - Lunch & Learn at Hope Health in Greeleyville to discuss the value of VR services.
  For more information, call 843-354-5252

June 16, 7:30-9am - Mayor’s Summit on Disabilities Inclusion in the Workplace. Alhambra Hall, Mt. Pleasant, SC.

For more information, download the flyer or visit mtpinclusion2016.eventbrite.com.

June 22-23 - Summer Institute for students.
  For more information, call 843-740-1600
July 20 - Business Partnership Network Meeting. The topic will be “How to determine a good fit for an employer”
  For more information, call 803-641-7630 or 800-861-9410
July 22, 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.