On-the-Job Training Leads to Success for Senovia Thomas

Senovia Thomas photo

RIVIERA BEACH, FL – After years of hospital visits and chemotherapy, Senovia Thomas had reached a low point. Although the physical pain of having sickle cell disease was taking its toll, she knew it was time for a change. “I just wanted something different,” she says. “I wanted to get back on my feet and become gainfully employed.” She reached out to her uncle who gave her the phone number of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR).

There she met VR Counselor Carla Leaty, who saw that Senovia had the motivation and drive to work, but she needed training and an employer who would be willing to work with her condition.

The City of Riviera Beach agreed to give Senovia a chance with VR’s On-the-Job Training (OJT) program. OJT is a VR program where customers earn a salary, while getting the opportunity to work on an actual job site and gain real world experience. VR pays the employee’s salary during OJT, along with reasonable training costs and any accommodations needed. It’s a win-win situation for both employers and employees.

Now, working as a Senior Administrative Secretary for the City of Riviera Beach, Senovia is thankful for the help along the way. “When you’ve been unemployed for years and someone comes along and gives you a break,” she says, “It’s a wonderful feeling.”

As a Senior Secretary, Senovia provides clerical assistance for the different city departments. She files, creates spreadsheets, prepares letters, sends out correspondents and answers the telephone. Carla says that it is Senovia’s personality that makes her such a success “She’s a very sweet girl,” says Carla. “Her personality wins people over.”

Doretha Perry, Human Resource Director for the City, says “Senovia is a good worker and a very intelligent young lady.” Doretha understands the severity of Senovia’s illness and they willingly make accommodations. “When she’s here, we can depend on her,” she says. “We’re really pleased with her work.”

The City of Riviera Beach and four other businesses were honored recently at the Disability Employment Awareness Celebration at Florida Atlantic University for their support of hiring people with disabilities.

For Carla, Senovia’s success is just another reason that she loves her job. “I really do enjoy listening to people, providing resources for them, and seeing the positive outcomes that come from the help,” she says.

Senovia appreciated Carla’s patience and the fact that she took the time to actually listen to Senovia’s career goals so she could find the type of work that would make her happy. She says the collaboration between the two organizations has been wonderful. “I’m just thankful for the opportunity to work with two great companies,” she says.

If your business would like to participate in the On-the-Job Training program, contact your local VR office at (800) 451-4327 or visit Rehabworks.org for a list of offices near you.

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.