Van Modifications Give Henry Eichner the Freedom He Needs to Become Part of the Working World Once Again
New Port Richey, FL – If you need to go to work or the store or out to eat, many of us don’t think twice about transportation. We just jump into our cars and drive there. Unfortunately, finding safe transportation can be a roadblock for someone who uses a wheelchair. Henry Eichner, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, had made some modifications to his truck – adding a swivel seat and adding make-shift hand controls to the steering wheel – but they weren’t really working. That’s when he came to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) for help. VR helps people with disabilities get or keep a job.
Henry met with VR Counselor, Lindsay Braun, to discuss his options. “When he came in, he was motivated and had an idea of what he wanted to do for his career,” says Lindsay. “He followed through with everything that anyone asked of him. Henry has many obstacles, but it’s like he doesn’t even see them. He had to be able to arrive safely at work, so the vehicle modification has made a huge difference in his life.”
Lindsay and VR worked with Henry to make modifications to a van he purchased so he could have proper access to the driver’s seat and hand controls. Henry is ecstatic about his new van. “Lindsay is a rock star! This van she helped me get has literally changed my life! It has helped me get where I need to go. There’s no way people can afford large items like these without help from VR. But if you really want work; if you really want to take advantage of it for the right reasons, then the program really works.”
Lindsay also set him up with a job coach at Placement Solutions to help Henry find a job that fit his needs and career goals. As they looked for just the right job, Placement Solutions hired a new job coach and their workload increased. They needed office help. Rolly Otero, Office Manager at Placement Solutions, noticed that the perfect job candidate was already on their list. “We looked at Henry and realized he was qualified for the job.” He’s been an exemplary employee ever since.
Rolly continues, “Henry has been superlative. He gives 110%; he catches on quick; and he’s bright. He is highly motivated and works well on our team. We’ve already given him one raise, and it looks like he’ll get another soon.”
As Henry proves himself, his job duties continue to expand. He started out helping customers with their resumes. Then, he began looking up potential jobs for the job coaches and sending them to the customers. “The job has to fit the client’s needs. In sending leads for a job, I have actually helped people get placed,” Henry says proudly.
Henry is excited about his latest assignment, which has him doing outreach to local businesses to tell them about VR and its On-the-Job Training program. “It helps me get to know them and once they get to know me and see that I can do what I say I can do, then they’re more open to working with someone who has a disability,” says Henry.
Henry loves his job and loves his new van. “I wouldn’t have been able to take this job without my van. I love the people I work with. My job is perfect because it’s something I wanted to get involved with. I wanted to help people with disabilities in any capacity, and I am. This is near and dear to my heart.” His goal is to eventually work full time so he can be independent and get off Social Security.
Rolly has some words of encouragement for employers who might be hesitant to hire someone with a disability. “Employers should be willing to hire people with disabilities because people with disabilities know they have to prove themselves so they work twice as hard. They also have the skills needed for the job. Some of them have been out the workforce for a while, but we train them and give them support so they can learn the job. They’re also very loyal to their employer for giving them a chance.”
Someone gave Henry a chance, and he’s making the most of it.
Florida’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is a federal-state program committed to helping people with disabilities become part of America’s workforce. The employer-focused website, https://abilitieswork.employflorida.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 90 offices across Florida, and last year helped 5,760 Floridians with significant disabilities get or keep a job. For more information about VR and its services, call (800) 451-4327 or visit http://www.Rehabworks.org.