Bobby Higgins – The Real Mr. Clean

Bobby Higgins photo

Jacksonville, FL – Bobby Higgins loves his job as a janitor at Moran Environmental Recovery and takes pride his work. “I go in at five in the morning, because I want to get all of the vacuuming done before they [employees] get there. I keep the place nice and clean, and nobody gets sick. They used to get sick a lot, but I keep the door knobs clean, and the light switches, and the bathrooms. I can’t have a dirty place.”

This attention to detail is one of the things his co-workers appreciate about Bobby – that, and he’s just a really nice guy who went through a rough patch. Back in 2010, Bobby lost his job due to an injury to his hand and didn’t know where else to turn. He came to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and met with Counselor Barbara Lukowski to discuss his options. VR helps people with disabilities find or keep a job. Bobby, who also has a learning disability, a depressive disorder, and morbid obesity, needed counseling and guidance and a road map to a new job.

Barbara signed Bobby up with Weight Watchers. He kept to the program and lost some weight. She also introduced him to Michelle Ward, a job coach for Pine Castle, who worked with Bobby to create a resume and practice his interviewing skills, because it had been awhile since he had interviewed for a job.

Michelle talked to Leslie Detlefsen with Moran, and they created a position for Bobby with the company. At the time he started working for Moran, Bobby couldn’t stand or walk for long periods of time due to his weight. His supervisor was very understanding about that. “They didn’t have a time limit for how quickly he had to clean a room,” says Michelle. Bobby explains, “When I first started here, I had a sheet listing everything I needed to clean. Now I have it timed in my head. I make it easy for myself and for them.”

Bobby no longer has trouble cleaning the offices. He’s lost more weight, because he’s active in his job, and his health has improved. “I’ve lost 40 pounds,” he proudly shares. So, working has benefited Bobby as much as it has Moran. “He always tells us when he needs to change his uniform size, and he’s very proud that it keeps going down,” says Leslie.

Bobby won over Barbara and Michelle with his terrific personality. “Bobby was always great to work with,” says Barbara. “He always followed through on my recommendations, including taking care of his health.” Michelle agrees, “He’s pleasant and has a great sense of humor.”

He’s also won over his co-workers. They include him in company outings or holiday parties. Before Christmas, they noticed that the tires on Bobby’s truck were worn out. They got together and bought him four new tires so that he would be safe driving back and forth to work.

Leslie hopes other employers will decide to hire someone who has a disability. “It is so worth it,” she says. “We’re doing something good for the community, but we’re also getting so much back, too. We have an employee who is a dream to work with, because he takes his job seriously. More people should have those work ethics.”

Bobby still checks in with Barbara and Michelle every couple of months to let them know that he still loves his job, and it’s still going well. They are always happy to hear from him.

Florida’s Vocational Rehabilitation program is committed to helping people with disabilities become part of America’s workforce. Our employer-focused website, FLJobConnections.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 80 offices across Florida, and last year helped 6,071 Floridians with significant disabilities find or keep a job. For more information about VR and its services, call (800) 451-4327 or visit Rehabworks.org.