Customer has 30-year relationship with VR

David Gondreau photo

TAMPA, FL – The lifelong relationship one has with a friend or loved one is often the basis of great novels and movies. However, something can also be said about the relationship David Gondreau and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) have sustained over the years. David, who became a person with quadriplegia at the age of 17, has been a VR customer off and on for more than 30 years. “VR has been with me the whole time,” he says. “Without the assistance I’ve gotten, I wouldn’t be able to do it. I wouldn’t have been able to work.”

David has worked for more than 27 years as a System Analyst at TECO Tampa Electric. It’s a feat that was made possible through his years of working with VR. “Without VR, I wouldn’t be where I am right now,” he says. “They always told me that it’s up to me to do it. They’re here to help. They’re not there to GET me employed, it’s up to me to get employment and stay employed. And they’re there to help me out with that.”

While transitioning out of rehab after his accident, David met with a VR counselor who encouraged him to complete high school and go on to college. VR helped David with transportation to and from school and paid his tuition. He landed an internship with TECO and has been working there ever since. After helping David become successfully employed, VR closed David’s case, but told him if he ever needed assistance maintaining employment, they would always be there for him.

At TECO, David manages computer systems for the Human Resources, Electrical, and Training Departments, as well as the corporate and employee directories. He is also responsible for handling the security and electric utility systems. It is a job that requires him to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It also requires him to stay on top of the latest advancements in his field. “I can do all of these things because I was able to get the assistance, equipment, and training from VR,” he says.

“Dave is an exceptional employee,” says Dorca Raimondi, David’s VR counselor. “David is very knowledgeable in his work, and he wants to continue to work as long as he can. I think that is what makes him a success.”

VR is more than a one-time service agency; it also helps individuals with disabilities maintain employment. David recently came back to VR because his power chair was not working very well, and he needed a new one. He also needed modifications to his van, and a home work station was set up with a modified computer that included special software so he could work from home.

David is happy that VR provides what he calls a “level playing field,” so he can keep up with all of his non-disabled co-workers. “Because of everything VR has done for me, the sky’s the limit in career capabilities and potential possibilities.”

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 111 offices across Florida, and last year helped 5,018 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.