Agencies Work Together to Get New Business Off the Ground
Avon Park, FL – The next time you’re visiting Avon Park, Florida and are looking for something to do, look no further than Sight Unseen Enterprises for fun games to play on land and something called a water pillar (a super-cool looking floating bike with huge wheels that skim across the water) to play with on Lake Verona. The new business, owned and operated by local native Bobby Talley, was started so that families could have fun together at the lake.
Bobby, who has been blind since having meningitis when he was four years old, received assistance from Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and the Division of Blind Services, along with other agencies to start his business. VR counselor Linda Daffner met with Bobby to discuss his career goals. When they decided on self-employment, she brought in Monica Doyle, a Certified Business and Technical Assistant Consultant (CBTAC) to help get his business off the ground. In deciding what type of business would be best for Bobby, they discovered a need for fun, family-oriented activities at Lake Verona, and that, along with Bobby’s love of sports and the fact that he could walk to work, made Sight Unseen Enterprises the perfect match for him.
Bobby runs the business with help from his partner, Judy McCarter, and friend, Amir Ghassemi. Judy helps with the bookkeeping, and Amir is a volunteer job coach who helps with game and canopy set up and whatever else needs to be done. Neither one is paid, but they definitely enjoy what they do and who they’re doing it for.
“Since I’ve met Bobby, he’s made so much progress and has come such a long way,” says Amir. “He opens the business every morning by himself. He can identify all of his items, and put them away. And you wouldn’t think it would be an issue, but he actually had to learn how to walk on the sand. He’s an inspiration to me.”
The business has run into a few snags along the way because the lake has been closed to swimming a couple of times. The pillars are not allowed to run during those times, because their water guns can shoot water 50 feet, and it could get into a person’s eyes or mouth. But Bobby just won’t quit. He added the games to rent and play on land, and he’s looking to add paddle boats and hydro-bikes, which could be used even if the lake is closed to swimming.
Sight Unseen Enterprises was recently recognized by the Highlands County Economic Development Commission as Start-up Business of the Year. Linda and Monica are very proud of Bobby and how far he’s come. “It has been quite an experience working with Bobby,” says Linda. “He is always willing to do what it takes to be successful, and I admire that.”
Sight Unseen Enterprises is open year-round, so there’s always something to do. Be sure to stop by Donaldson Park the next time you want to go on a fun, family outing. Just watch out if you ask Bobby to join you in a game. He’s a ringer…he not only loves renting out the games, he can play all of them too and plays them well.
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 6,523 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.