Hiring a Person with a Disability is a Win-Win for Both Employer and Employee
St. Petersburg, FL – Rhonda Marley recycles shoes at Suncoast Textile Recycling. “I have to make sure they’re worth a second time around,” she says. “If they are I put them a bin. If not, I trash them. I am very grateful for this job.”
Suncoast Textile Recycling purchases surplus donations from thrift stores and charities and then sells the items to agencies in third world countries. And they have a history of hiring people with disabilities. The company was honored by Florida Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) as an Outstanding Employer in 2013 for its commitment to creating an inclusive workplace. This supportive environment makes Suncoast an excellent fit for Rhonda.
Owner Jason Fox explains, “Rhonda is a reliable and dependable employee who gives 110% every day. Here at Suncoast Textile Recycling it doesn’t matter whether or not you have a disability, it’s that you can do the job. And once you find the right place for that person, they work hard to show that they can do the job and do it right.”
When Rhonda first came to VR, an agency that helps people with disabilities get or keep a job, she was looking for a second chance. After going through a long period of unemployment, Rhonda, who has a disability, was determined to get back to work. “Rhonda has been committed to ‘turning her life around’ from the first day I met her,” says her VR counselor, Pat Wellner. “She was willing to do whatever it took.”
Rhonda was referred by VR to the On-the-Job Training program at Suncoast Textile Recycling. During her time in the program, VR paid for her transportation and training. Rhonda excelled in her OJT – she “initiated projects when the work was slow, went above and beyond her job description, and had a positive effect on her coworkers,” says Pat.
Her outstanding performance led to a job offer from Suncoast Textile Recycling, and she began working there in January 2012. Rhonda is grateful for the kindness of her supervisor, Jason Fox. “Jason has got to be the one of the most honest and fair men I have ever worked for,” she says. “He gave me a second chance, and believe me, it was appreciated.”
Pat is proud to see how far Rhonda has come. “She is a fantastic employee. We can really make a difference for people like Rhonda, who want to help themselves. She wanted to change her life, and she did.”
Along with her own determination, Rhonda credits VR for her success. “I am very grateful for VR and I would recommend it to anybody – and I have,” says Rhonda. “People who think there’s no way out – there are organizations out there that will help you. You just have to do what they ask.”
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.