A Change in Vision Gives Dennis Lopez a New Career Path

Dennis Lopez photo

Boca Raton, FL – Dennis Lopez, who has Attention Deficit Disorder, had been working for Publix for 20 years and although he liked his job, he wasn’t going anywhere in the company and wanted to try something new, something better. After learning about Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) from a friend, VR helps people with disabilities get or keep a job, he shared his goals with VR Counselor Matthew Lane and his new journey began.

The problem was, Dennis didn’t know what new career path he wanted to take. So Matthew offered counseling and guidance and a work evaluation to see what jobs Dennis would be qualified to do. In the meantime Dennis had the opportunity to job shadow at a friend’s optometrist office and he really liked the idea of becoming an Optometric Assistant.

But that meant going back to school. He started the Optometric Assistant training program at McFatter Technical College and says it was an interesting experience going back to school. “Before, I think I had a learning disability or something because I didn’t do very well, so it was good to go back to school and the school was great. I did really well. I went every day and I didn’t want to leave. I was determined not to mess this up.”

VR paid for tuition and books and supplies. With the college making accommodations for him, Dennis quickly completed the program. He was then ready to look for a job. Dennis heard about a job at Pediatric Ophthalmology Consultants of South Florida so he updated his resume, applied for it, and got the job. He started training with staff supervisor, Michelle Bats, at their Boca Raton office.

Michelle is very happy with his progress. “He works hard and he does exactly what he’s supposed to do.” She says that they didn’t need to do any official accommodations for Dennis’ disability but shares some advice for employers who might to leaning toward hiring someone with a disability. “be patient and make sure he writes everything down. Dennis does that and it’s a big help. He follows his list and gets the task done.”

Matthew is proud of Dennis. “At first, he didn’t know very much about VR, but as he learned what we could do it gave him more confidence and boosted his self-esteem. He never missed an appointment and never missed a day of class. And a lot of that is why he was successful.”

Dennis has praise for Matthew too. “It was great working with Matt. He made himself available whenever I needed him. I wanted to do it for Matt too because he put so much faith in me. He said that he believed that I could do it.”

He continues, “I like to tell people about the VR program. I think it’s great! I want people to see that if I can do it, anybody can do it. If you have good help, you can do it. I see people who are going through the same things I went through and I tell them that with help they can do it. They need to get in the program.”

“It was tough leaving my job of 20 years and going to school. But it all lined up for me, like the universe was behind me. It was amazing how everything just fell into place for me and it’s all because of the program and my teachers and my wife.”

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.