New Discovery Program helps individuals with significant disabilities find the job best suited for them
Four years ago, Joey Cunio, who has an intellectual disability, came to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). He needed help finding a job that fit his needs. He had tried other jobs in the restaurant and fast food industry, but never stayed for very long.
“It wasn’t going very well for a long time because Joey doesn’t like anybody getting into his business,” said his VR Counselor Timothy Seaman. “Anytime we tried to place him, he’d want to quit. I was at the point where we couldn’t do anything else. Discovery made finding employment for him very easy.”
With Discovery, trained employment specialists spend extra time with the VR customer examining his/her likes and dislikes, and see how they handle situations in their daily lives. “It was really catered to him, where everything else he had done catered to the people running the program. The Discovery program worked really well,” said Timothy.
Joey was paired with Donald Blair from Easter Seals as his Discovery coach. “Joey is somewhat private,” says Donald. “Although I had asked him several times if he was involved in any other activities or groups in the church, he had always said no. It wasn’t till late in the Discovery process that I learned that he walked to his church several times throughout the week and hung out, occasionally helping the maintenance staff.
That information was crucial for Joey’s job search. Donald sent a letter to the church’s pastor and facilities director outlining a plan and specific job duties for Joey if they would consider hiring him. They agreed.
Joey is now employed as a maintenance helper at his church, East Coast Christian Center. He works on average 8-10 hours, three days a week. Timothy is very proud of where he is now. “He’s doing very well at his new job,” said Timothy.
Timothy believes that what makes Joey a success at his job is that he likes what he does and does it with ease. “He does it with very little supervision and it meets all of his needs,” said Timothy. “I didn’t think this was going to go anywhere. But this is important to him. It hit our purpose of finding what Joey really likes.”
Aside from setting out specific job duties for Joey, his supervisor writes and submits a time card for him that states the days and hours that he works each week. They provide Joey with a second set of time cards that he can use to help him keep track of the days and hours that he works and the wages he receives. Donald explains, “This is a creative and thoughtful ‘accommodation’ to help Joey due to his memory issues. As of last report he has not forgotten to go to work or been late for work.”
Joey is thankful to his counselor because without his assistance, he would not have been able to get the Discovery evaluation. “My counselor made a difference by being patient and suggesting that I try the Discovery program.” He is also grateful to VR for the opportunity to change his life. “My feelings toward VR are good,” said Joey. “VR helped change my life by getting me a job. I do not think that I would have been able to get my own job without VR's help.”
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.