Giving Others Power through her Paint

Danise Rosak photo

Lakeland, FL Taking a dreary situation and turning it into an uplifting experience is a skill Danise Rosak loves to do with color and style. So when she started her own business, Danise had one goal in mind: to use her art to encourage others and give them hope. Since then, Danise has followed her passion across the country, creating murals and realistic artwork for hospitals, offices, and federal buildings all over the nation.

In 2007, after years of debilitating hand pain began to hinder her work, Danise came to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) for help. She was concerned that she might not be able to continue doing what she loved anymore. "I was thinking, 'What am I going to do, I've put so much into this business,'" says Danise. She met with VR Counselor Persa Oquendo, who offered guidance and counseling, and together they developed a plan so Danise could continue her work.

Creating artwork and murals requires hours of hand-crafting with power tools and then sanding for days at a time. Danise's hands would become stiff and feel as though they were vibrating, sometimes for weeks after she stopped working. Danise wanted VR to train her to use a special computer numerically controlled (CNC) router, hoping to save up and one day buy the machine herself.

When VR provided her with the machine and training for how to use it, Danise said she was thrilled. "It was just beyond amazing to me that this kind of help is out there," said Danise. "This is something that truly helped me in allowing me to do my work, improve it, and keep moving forward toward my goals."

The machine takes away the demanding physical labor, but still allows Danise to personally craft her artwork. Now Danise can work more efficiently without fear of physical pain and can get back to her art. "I love what I do, I really enjoy it," said Danise. "The fulfillment of seeing kids go up to the walls and hug the three-dimensional pieces like they're real, it's just been great. The level of appreciation in the hospital is just immense and so fulfilling. It can't be beat."

Danise has further ambitions and wants to motivate other people with disabilities. Once a ward of the state, Danise wants to give others the chance she never had. "I want to work with the state and with children with disabilities," she said. She hopes to one day create an organization that works with children who need community service and bring them to her facility, where they can discover their own creativity.

Persa says it's people like Danise who make her love her job. "The feeling I get when I can actually see what we accomplish when we do this job, is a very good feeling to have," says Persa.

As for Danise, Persa says that she is the type of person who will go on to do amazing things. "She's self-determined and a good motivator," said Persa. "She knows how to get around obstacles and give other people hope."

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 post available jobs. VR has 111 offices across Florida, and last year helped 3,874 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.