Man Survives Brain Injury and Finally Lands His Dream Job
Pinellas Park, FL – Aron Drenzek’s mother, Chris, was given the worst news a mother could get after her son was shot in the head. Doctors told her he would either remain in a vegetative state or he would die; she refused to listen to them. She calls Aron her “miracle child” because he had to learn to speak and walk again, along with almost everything else we learn as a child, due to the Traumatic Brain Injury he suffered.
“I brought him home, and we played games, and I walked with him,” says Chris. A few years after his remarkable recovery, Aron tried to get a job with little success. He volunteered at the local hospital for eight years, but what Aron really wanted was to work at Home Depot. He loved going to Home Depot and walking among the aisles of wood, plants, and tools. Chris filled out an application for Aron, but still had no luck landing that elusive job.
Then, after searching online, Chris found Vocational Rehabilitation, a state agency that helps people with disabilities get or keep a job, and that’s where they met VR Counselor Emily Page. “Emily is a special person,” explains Chris. “She has empathy and compassion. More people should be trained to be like her. People don’t always see Aron, the person, like she did; they see the disability.”
Emily offered guidance and counseling because, as she says, “Aron’s very capable, but he lacked confidence.” She also brought in Pam Whaley with Job Wise to be Aron’s job coach.
“We met in September,” Pam explains, “and the next day we did a phone interview with Home Depot. It went okay, but I saw some things we could work on.” Aron didn’t get past the first round. They did some practice interviews and worked on his responses and when he got another phone interview a week later, Aron aced it and was asked to come in for an interview. The managers were impressed with him, and he was hired that day.
Pam offered supported employment to Aron and Home Depot, going through the same two-week intensive training he did so she could make sure he knew what his job duties were and how to interact with his co-workers.
Aron is thrilled to work part-time for his favorite store – Home Depot. “I’m a lot associate,” shares Aron. “I bring in carts, unload people, load people, work in garden, and help with sheet rock, drywall, lumber, and anything else they want me to do. I’m just happy to be working.” His co-workers are happy he’s working too.
Although Aron loved his job and his managers were happy with his job performance, Aron continually experienced transportation problems getting to and from work – something many people with disabilities experience and one of the main reasons it’s so difficult for them to work. The public bus system was unreliable and the costs for Uber were more than he was being paid. Pam and Aron talked to the company’s HR department, and they have found a place for him at the Home Depot Pinellas Park, which is five minutes from his home. He can ride his scooter to work. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Aron and Chris, working together as a team with Emily and Pam, led to Aron getting his dream job – and the team is happy that everything is finally going his way. Chris shares, “His new job has given him a sense of purpose and lets him get socialized. He’s more independent.” Emily adds, “I’ve worked with many customers, and I’ll never forget Aron. He’s done such a good job, and he’s in such a good place.” Pam chimes in, “They never gave up and always had a positive attitude.”
Florida’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is a federal-state program committed to helping people with disabilities become part of America’s workforce. The employer-focused website, https://abilitieswork.employflorida.com/, allows businesses to search at no charge for employees who are ready to go to work, as well as to post available jobs. VR has 90 offices across Florida, and last year helped 5,760 Floridians with significant disabilities get or keep a job. For more information about VR and its services, call (800) 451-4327 or visit http://www.Rehabworks.org.