VR Helps Executive Director Keep Working at Art Gallery

Joseph Sobodowski photo

Miami, FL – It was during the time that Joseph Sobodowski worked for the superintendent of the Miami-Dade School System that he became familiar with Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), through their work with the students. Little did he imagine that several years later he, too, would require its services.

Joseph was attempting to move a toolbox when he pushed the wrong way and heard a tearing sound. “I said, ‘Uh oh’, because I knew exactly what it was,” he says. It was a level two rotator cuff tear in his left shoulder. “I literally couldn’t lift the arm.”

Joseph, Executive Director of the art gallery Simply Artistic, Inc., immediately realized it was a bigger issue than not being able to hang art work on the walls, adjust lighting, or lift cameras. Without surgery, he would lose the use of his left arm. Knowing exactly where to go, Joseph turned to VR, which helped make sure he had the resources needed to stay self-employed. “They really are an incredible organization,” Joseph says.

“Joseph’s success was in the attitude he had when he came in here,” says VR counselor Jennifer Wester. “He was highly motivated to get back to work.” Jennifer recognized immediately that Joseph was in severe need of help. “It made me squirm whenever he would show me how he couldn’t pick up little things or move his arm,” she says.

VR provided physical restoration services, paying for Joseph’s shoulder surgery and physical therapy. Right away, there was a noticeable success. “Afterwards, he came in and he could practically bring his arm around,” she says.

Joseph was grateful for not only the services provided, but also for the way he was treated during the process. “Jennifer was one of the most competent, kind, caring, amazing people you could ever want to encounter in any kind of work environment,” he says. “I am so grateful and fortunate to have encountered her.”

Now that he is able to continue working in his art gallery and on other projects, Joseph is happy to share his story with others who might not know about VR. “Every opportunity I have, I explain why VR is such a critical component,” he says. “VR provides a service for people so they can get back into living.” It’s one of the ways Joseph tries to give back to the organization that changed his life. “I’m profoundly grateful.”

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 6,071 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.