Man Gets Second Chance through Vocational Rehabilitation

James Williams photo

TITUSVILLE, FL – James Williams was looking for a second chance when he came to his local Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) office. James, who has learning disabilities and struggled with drug addiction, unsuccessfully tried to find employment on his own and had almost given up hope. That’s when his sister Aimee, a VR employee in Atlanta, suggested he go to VR and get the extra help he needed. Now employed with the city of Titusville, James is thankful VR was able to help him turn his life around. “VR changed my life 100 percent,” James says. “I was on a dead end road. Now I have opportunities.”

“James wanted to make progress in his life,” says his VR Counselor Maria Capella. Maria offered him guidance and counseling as well as the support and assistance he needed to help him beat his drug addiction. After James continued to show that he was dedicated to getting well and finding employment, Maria brought in Mariann Sampieri, Employment Program Administrator for Brevard Achievement Center, to help him find a job.

Because James didn’t know what kind of job he wanted to do, Mariann and Maria agreed that he would benefit from VR’s On-the-Job Training (OJT) program to give him the skills and work experience he needed to be successful on the job.

On-the-Job Training is a VR program that gives customers the opportunity to work on an actual job site and gain real-world experience. VR pays the employee’s salary during OJT, along with reasonable training costs and any accommodations needed. It’s a win-win situation for both employers and employees.

With Mariann enthusiastically providing support to James and his employer, James trained as a records clerk at the Titusville Archive Center for three months. His supervisor was so impressed with his work that she hired him permanently in May.

James is an ideal candidate,” says Titusville Archive Center’s HR Director Carlene Price. “He is a hard worker, always on time and very personable.” As soon as James’ temporary assignment was over, his supervisor fought tooth and nail to get him hired on a permanent basis. “He stays on task, stays on course,” says Carlene, who said she knew that whatever James had gone through, he just needed a second chance. “He has really proven himself.”

As a records clerk, James is responsible for filing legal documents, keeping files straight on the shelves, and seeing that papers are in the correct order in their files. James also handles data entry, faxes documents, makes photocopies, and assists customers on the phone.

James loves his job and says that family support, as well as support from Mariann, Maria and VR, was important in helping him accomplish his goals. “Maria stuck by my side,” he said. “She kept telling me ‘You can do it James! Don’t quit!’”

James recently reached another milestone in his life – he passed his GED. Mariann and Maria are very proud of how far he has come, and how he continues to stay on track with his personal goals. “It wasn’t easy for him,” Maria says. “Working during the day and going to school at night.”

James says he plans to stay focused and remain a productive member of society. He encourages others to come to VR for assistance. “VR is a great place to go if you have a disability and want to work,” he said.

If your business would like to participate in the On-the-Job Training program, contact your local VR office at (800) 451-4327 or visit Rehabworks.org for a list of offices near you.

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.