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

Cultivating the seeds of success

The 1st Annual Camden Area Business Cookout.
Summer Rigby, Camden Area Supervisor, welcomes attendees to the 1st Annual Camden Area Business Cookout.
Business Development Specialist Robert Truesdale (right) gives a brief overview of VR to attendees at the 1st Annual Camden Area Business Cookout.
Jeff Mang, Plant Manger, tells attendees how VR business services have helped HBD Thermoid meet their workforce development needs.
Attendees network at the 1st Annual Camden Area Business Cookout.
Business and community leaders from Lee, Kershaw and Camden counties enjoy hamburgers and hot dogs at the 1st Annual Camden Area Business Cookout.
Robert Truesdale, Business Development Specialist (left), introduces attendees to four job-ready VR clients who assisted during the event.
Attendees network at the 1st Annual Camden Area Business Cookout.
Jeff Mang (right) Plant Manager of HBD Thermoid with Skip Cranfill, Operations and Materials Manager and Marie Vanhoy, Human Resource Specialist.

“We’ve hired ten percent of our workers through the VR SWAT program,” Jeff Mang, plant manager of HBD Thermoid, tells a group of business and community leaders during the 1st Annual Camden Area Business Cookout at the Camden Work Training Center on August 17.

The group includes more than 40 representatives from Lee, Kershaw and Camden counties, who are learning firsthand how VR helps businesses find talented employees through services such as Skilled Workforce Apprenticeship Training (SWAT).

“We make the very best transmission belts for lawn mowers in the world,” Mang continues, “and these employees are our top tier performers. They are knowledgeable and excited to come to work.”

A VR client may participate in a SWAT for up to 12 weeks, explains Robert Truesdale, VR Business Development Specialist. During this time, the client learns the job with assistance from VR staff. It is also an opportunity for the business to evaluate a potential employee’s abilities, and a chance for the client to determine if the position is a good match.

“VR has done a tremendous job getting [their clients] ready to join or rejoin the workforce,” says an enthusiastic Mang.

Skip Cranfill, Operations and Materials Manager, agrees, “Anyone can have knowledge and skills, but it’s attitude and habits that a lot of people are lacking. Our employees who have come from VR have the soft skills and motivation—they are excited to be here. They come in early, they are flexible, willing and capable.”

The SWAT program also helps employers offset the cost of training for higher skilled jobs. In the case of HBD Thermoid, those savings “go right on the bottom line and actually allowed us to increase the pay rate for our folks,” says Marie Vanhoy, Human Resource Specialist.

She explains that the clients they have hired from VR work throughout HBD Thermoid’s Elgin plant. “They all start in our warehouse doing packing and shipping. Then we find out what their hidden skills are and they migrate from there to other areas.”

Some work in processing, where raw materials are combined to make rubber. One is a lead that steps in to provide guidance or support anywhere in the plant. “His learning curve is disturbingly steep,” she says, smiling. “He’s been cross-trained in every part of our facility. He will work his way into a supervisor position.”

Truesdale sums up the benefits for VR clients and businesses. “What makes VR unique is that we assess our clients and match them with jobs that fit their strengths. In turn, we match businesses with job-ready candidates who can meet their specific needs.”

Mang appreciates this attention to detail, and the thoroughness of the VR staff.

“This is one of the best programs I’ve ever seen from a government agency,” says Mang. “VR is really changing people’s lives and helping businesses thrive in the community.”

Behind the scenes of success

Robert Truesdale, Business Development Specialist in the Camden area, is thrilled with the success of the 1st Annual Camden Area Business Cookout.

“We’ve already had ten new job leads from five different companies, and we have a client who will begin an OJT (on the job training) opportunity tomorrow. We’re also meeting with several employers to discuss how we can better prepare our clients to move into employment with them.”

Truesdale spent several months planning the event, which was promoted on social media using LinkedIn and Eventbrite.

“I challenged the Camden staff to see if we could get 25-30 attendees. I was very surprised it grew so much.” Ultimately, more than 60 people responded using Eventbrite, with 47 of them actually attending.

Truesdale’s goal was to have local employers and community leaders to learn about VR services from a business that is benefiting from them. “I wanted them to hear from an employer—not me. We have a great relationship with HBD Thermoid and I knew they would be a fantastic ambassador for VR.” (see feature)

During the event, Truesdale briefly introduced attendees to four job-ready clients. Since then, he’s had numerous inquiries about those clients from businesses for interviews or job opportunities. “I think it helps to break down the barrier of what a person’s perception of disability means when you see and interact with them.”

One of the simplest ideas Truesdale had was to seat a VR staff member at each table. One attendee commented, “I’ve been to many business events. This is the first one where someone thought enough to put a staff member at the table. It felt so welcoming and personable and I made a connection.”

Truesdale credits the care and hard work of the staff for the success of the event.

“We tilled the ground and planted seeds. Now it’s our job to make those seeds grow into opportunities for our clients.”

Around the state

Spartanburg VR recognized for participation in Project Educate

The Spartanburg VR office was recently recognized by the Spartanburg City Council for their contribution to Project Educate. Project Educate received the Barret Larrimore Award, which honors organizations that work together collaboratively for the betterment of citizens in their counties.

Project Educate partners have focused on reducing recidivism at the Spartanburg Detention Center and the cost to the citizens and county. Each partner provides training or services that assist individuals in attaining skills and job placement.

Photo: DeCole Gallman, Spartanburg Area Supervisor (second from right) with Project Educate partners from Adult Education, Spartanburg Community College, Upstate Workforce Investment, SCWorks, The Forrester Center and Spartanburg Detention Center.

Beaufort hosts “Coffee with Colleagues”

Photo: The Beaufort VR Office hosted the Chamber of Commerce’s “Coffee with Colleagues” on August 19. During the event more than 40 representatives networked with VR staff and toured the Work Training Center.

Fashion show at Gaffney Work Training Center

Photo: The Gaffney VR Office recently held a “What to Wear” fashion show for clients. Staff members demonstrated a variety of appropriate attire for different jobs, including an office environment, a plant or production setting, a fast food establishment, and a restaurant.

Staff photography on display in Walterboro

Photo (left to right): Ginger Ash, Job Preparedness Instructor; Michelle Stockman, Vocational ACE; and Carolee Dunn, Center Manager, with some of their photography which is now on display throughout the Walterboro VR Office.

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

Walterboro 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.

Q Stories

During the Question and Answer session at the 1st Annual Camden Area Business Cookout, Thomas Anderson, owner of Potter’s Computer Systems in Lugoff, told attendees about working with a high school senior that he met through VR’s Youth Services.

“I helped teach him soft skills, how to communicate and how to dress. I taught him how to upgrade and repair computers. In turn, this young man had graphics and social media skills, and he put my business onto Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and others. As a result, I’ve had a 20 percent increase in business with new and existing customers.”

Did you know...

...#InclusionWorks is the theme for National Disability Employment Awareness Month?

Reflecting the important role disability plays in workforce diversity, this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) theme is “#InclusionWorks.” Each October, NDEAM celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates about the value of a diverse workforce inclusive of their skills and talents.

The 2016 NDEAM poster, along with other resources, is now available for download.


September 8, 9am-10am- Business Partner Network Meeting.
September 8, 10am-12 noon - Job Fair.
October 5, 11am-1pm - Open House. In recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
October 14 - Bounce Back workshop.
  For more information, call 843-522-1010
September 30, 9:30am-1:30pm - ServSafe training for clients at the Hartsville VR office, 2413 Stadium Road, Hartsville, SC 29550.
  For more information, call 843-479-8318, 800-849-4878 or 843-332-2262
October 5 - Open House.
  For more information, call 803-896-6333 or 866-206-5184
Rock Hill
October 6, 11am-1pm - Open House.
  For more information, call 803-327-7106
October 6 - Open House.
  For more information, call 864-585-3693 or 866-451-1480
October 11 - Open House.
  For more information, call 803-432-1068 or 866-206-5280
October 12 - Open House.
  For more information, call 864-229-5827 or 866-443-0162
October 12 - Open House.
  For more information, call 803-534-4939
October 13 - Open House.
  For more information, call 864-489-9954 or 866-451-1481
October 13 - Open House.
  For more information, call 803-782-4239 or 866-206-5280
October 18 - Open House.
  For more information, call 864-882-6669 or 866-313-0082
October 18 - Disability Mentoring Day (DMD).
October 19 - Open House.
  For more information, call 843-740-1600
October 20 - Open House.
  For more information, call 864-224-6391
Lyman (Bryant Center)
October 20 - Open House.
  For more information, call 864-249-8030 or 888-322-9391

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

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