A Complete Turnaround

Ruth Moise photo

PORT CHARLOTTE, FL – A year ago, Ruth Moise was a shy, quiet young woman who didn’t talk very much. In fact, she barely talked at all. Today, when you see her on the sales floor of Goodwill, you will find a completely different person. Ruth, who has learning and intellectual disabilities, has blossomed into a cheerful, happy person who is eager to help her customers. This complete turnaround was made possible by Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and Ruth’s job coach, Maryjane Nickerson of Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, Inc.

It was a long road from high school graduation to employment and becoming the confident person she is now. Ruth first came to VR as a transition student referred by Port Charlotte High School. She had a part-time job at a fast food restaurant putting toys into the children’s meals. She was alone in a back room and had no contact with the other workers. Ruth was miserable.

VR counselor Desire Cox paired Ruth with Maryjane, who suggested an On-the-Job Training program at the Goodwill retail store. With the On-the-Job Training program, VR reimburses employers for the trainee’s salary, training costs, and any accommodations needed. It’s a win-win situation for both the business owner and the employee.

Maryjane worked closely with Ruth to help her become successful in her new job. When Ruth mentioned that folding clothes in a back room made her feel shut off from her coworkers, Maryjane moved Ruth to the sales floor. Since then, Ruth has blossomed. Ruth loves her job and is a delight to her fellow employees. “Her work ethic is wonderful,” says Maryjane. “She always comes to work with the biggest smile you ever saw. Everyone loves her.”

“She’s great with the customers,” says Karen White, manager at Goodwill. “She’s very helpful and she makes people happy.” As a sales associate, Ruth works on the sales floor, making sure the store is kept clean and the clothes are put away. She loves to give customers advice, educate them about the weekly bargains, and explain the special ‘color of the week’ sale.

Ruth is very thankful to Desire for introducing her to Maryjane. “Maryjane found me a great job at Goodwill,” she says. “I’m very happy to be working.” She has become a productive and valuable employee and was recently awarded Goodwill’s 2010 Chet Perry Achiever of the Year Award.

Ruth is a good example of how hard VR works to find the right employment for each customer. “Without VR and Goodwill, Ruth would still be at home,” says Desire. “She felt hopeless. Working with VR and Goodwill turned her life around.”

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.