Persistence and Determination, with a little Stubbornness Thrown in, Win Out for New Library Employee

Corey North photo

Daytona Beach, FL – “Corey North had been volunteering at the [Talking Books] library for as long as I’ve been here – at least six years,” says his supervisor, Melody Kauffman. “I tried to get him to apply for other jobs because the library didn’t have any job openings, but he always said “no,”” says his Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) counselor, Joyce Barros. Corey explains with a grin, “I wasn’t really trying to work at other places, so she [Joyce] was about to get on my case, but then I got the job so she didn’t have to.”

“He is persistent and determined, and he waited until a position opened up,” Joyce explains. “He must get the credit for being so determined and persistent, maybe a little bit stubborn, but it really paid off for him.” She is very proud of Corey and has seen a real improvement in him since she first started working with him a few years ago. “Every time I saw him, I felt that he was more self-confident. He didn’t seem as forgetful, and he started developing ways to remember better. We give our customers the tools, but it only works if they pursue it. In his case, he did, and that’s why it worked.”

The reason Corey is forgetful is that he developed dementia at a young age due complications from brain surgery to have a tumor removed and the following rounds of radiation and chemotherapy. It affected his mood, and he was unable to show his feelings anymore. It also affected his mobility, he couldn’t keep his balance. He’s able to understand what you’re saying, but not repeat things.

Corey came to VR in 2008 for help in finding a job. He was very shy and needed to find a place where he would feel comfortable working. His mother volunteered as a recording producer at the Florida Talking Book Library in Daytona Beach, so Corey decided to come with her. Corey worked alongside other employees and volunteers at the library inspecting the plastic cases that hold the media when they came in.

Each book is recorded either on a cassette or special jump drive and housed in a plastic box. “We inspect them to see if they have the wrong card in them or if they’re dirty, and then get them ready to ship back out,” explains Corey. The news finally came that the library had a full-time job coming open, and they were willing to split it into two part-time positions. That meant Corey and another young man with disabilities could both become employed. Corey applied for the job.

“He works 15 hours a week,” says Melody. “Now, he’s helping unload the truck and sort the boxes, he sorts the digital material in the mail room. He’s working in the mail room when he gets here in the morning and then he inspects. Corey pretty much can do whatever I need him to do. He’s done really well.”

And just like that, Corey has come out of his shell. Melody shares, “When he used to come in, he really didn’t talk to anybody. He was quiet. Now, he’s right there with the boys, yacking and talking. You’ll see him out there talking the whole time he’s inspecting. You know, he’s really changed a lot.”

To Corey, it isn’t the paycheck that has made the difference, it’s the fact that he’s on a regular schedule where he has to get up at a certain time and go in to work at a certain time. That’s what made the difference for him.

Melody doesn’t care what the reason is, she’s just happy to have him there. “He’s quite an asset. I don’t know why it was never done before because I know he’s been trying for many years to be hired here, and I figured, give it a shot, and he’s turned out to be a good choice. He’s easy to talk to. And if he doesn’t understand you, he questions it. Corey’s just a good guy to work with. He’s learned a lot since he’s been here. He’s gotten more responsible. He likes the responsibility.”

Melody hopes that other employers will give people with disabilities a chance. “When I first started here, I couldn’t figure out why they would bring people in here who have a disability. Now, when I see the changes in them, it’s just amazing. And they learn a lot. I think it helps them in their personal life too. I know Corey’s mother is thrilled that he’s working here.”

For more information how you can become a member of the Florida Talking Book Library, go to http://dbs.myflorida.com/Talking%20Books%20Library/index.html. If you live in Florida and have trouble reading print as the result of an eye problem, a reading disability, or difficulty holding a book because of a disability, you can apply for library services.

About Vocational Rehabilitation
Florida’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is a federal-state program committed to helping people with disabilities become part of America’s workforce. Our employer-focused website, http://www.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 89 offices across Florida, and last year helped 7,214 Floridians with significant disabilities find or keep a job. For more information about VR and its services, call (800) 451-4327 or visit http://www.Rehabworks.org.