Success Stories

Photo of Success Story Brochure CoverSuccess Story Brochure

This brochure (PDF) provides information about VR and shares the success of 12 customers who are gainfully employed because of services provided by VR.


Edward Godsil, Who has a Traumatic Brain Injury, Found the Perfect Job as a Dining Room Attendant at Five Guys

Jacob Solar, Who has Autism, Shares His Experience Working for Two Outstanding Companies at the Disability Employment Awareness Celebration in St. Petersburg

Jeffrey Laverty, Who is Deaf, is Enthusiastic about His New Career

Cheryl Ollis, Who is Deaf-Blind, Finds Her Dream Job

Evan Rapp works behind the scenes at Dillards

Goodwill’s Fashion Consultant

Englewood, FL – “The brunette ladies like to wear blue dresses, and the blonde ladies prefer red.” This astute observation comes from Rialto Goodwill’s Fashion Consultant-in-training, Ben Davis...Read Ben's story

Sue Cassell Finds Her Perfect Job as a Security Guard

Ocala, FL - Sue Cassell didn't know where to turn when her job search hit a dead end, and then she discovered Vocational Rehabilitation, an agency that helps people with disabilities find or keep a job. Now, she's found her perfect job as a security guard at a local hospital.

Lajarvis Smiley lives up to his name

St. Petersburg, FL - Lajarvis, who has two disabilities, works as a laundry assistant for the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront. He enjoys his job and always does his best to put a smile on his coworker's faces.

VR Customer Helps Others Who Have Disabilities Live Independently

Orlando, FL – Roger Cyr has spent most of his adult life fighting for his right to work. Roger has a number of medical issues, including diabetes and depression, and his employment outlook seemed grim. “I’m a bilateral amputee,” Roger says. . .Read Roger's story

Air Conditioning Technician – the Perfect Job for Jonathan Sanchez

Training Program Helps People with Disabilities
Learn the Hospitality Trade

VR Helps Hosterman Start His Own Tack Business

Ocala, FL – When an injury cost Aaron Hosterman his job, and his disability led to problems finding new employment, he turned to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) for help. Aaron met with VR Counselor Stacy Duscher who helped him get the services he needed to get back into the work force. . .Read Aaron's story

VR Assists Cole in Starting Small Business

Ocala, FL – Just four years ago Shannon Cole was cruising the roadways in his semi, traveling the country- it’s the job he loved and planned to have until he retired. Then one day he realized his plans were quickly coming to a halt. . .Read Shannon's story

The Grounds are Covered

St. Petersburg, FL – Zachary Mathews loves working outside and watching the plants he nurtures bloom and grow. He also dreams of working full time for the Tampa Bay Rays Grounds Crew, and he’s living part of that dream right now as he rakes second base for the Rays evening and weekend games. For now, he’s content to spend his days working as a landscaper for the Postcard Inn on St. Petersburg Beach. . .Read Zachary's story

Drawing on VR for On-the-Job Training

Ft. Myers, FL – Melvin Jordan III looks like your average college student or young professional, and that’s the way he prefers it. In fact, his boss Ted Sottong, Vice President, Architecture, Incorporated, was surprised to learn that Melvin has a disability; he hired him because he was the best candidate for the job, and that’s how it should be. . .Read Melvin's story

On-the-Job Training Proves Its Worth for Young Woman with a Disability

Ft. Myers, FL – When asked how long she has worked at Auto Glass Warehouse, Yelanie Cruz clearly and confidently states, “I’ve been here a year, a month, and two weeks.” It’s that attention to detail that has endeared Yelanie, or Yo-Yo, as her co-workers call her, to everyone she works with. “We’re just blessed,” says Ernie Gonnelly, owner of Auto Glass Warehouse and Yelanie’s boss. . . Read Yelanie's story

On the Road Again! Paralysis Reroutes Career but Doesn’t End It

Old Town, FL – For Joe Parker, driving was his life! He’d spent the last four years as a semi-truck driver and loved being on the road. That’s why it was so devastating when an accident... Read Joes' story

A New Wheelchair Makes All the Difference for Long-Time Home Depot Employee

New Port Richey, FL – Got a plumbing question? See Nuni. Want to know what that ‘thingamajig’ in the toilet is for and why it’s still running? See Nuni... Read Nuni's story

Students with Disabilities Get a Taste of College Life with Project SAINT

Gainesville, FL – Kelsey Burley, who has cerebral palsy, wants to be an elementary school or day care teacher. She’s taking classes at Santa Fe Community College... Read about Project Saint

Jamie Katz – Pet Detective (Yes, it’s a real job)

Ft. Lauderdale, FL – If your pet becomes lost, what would you do, who would you call? If you live in south Florida, you’d call Jamie Katz – Pet Detective! Read Jamie's story

Successful Career in the Kitchen Began with Project SEARCH

Altamonte Springs, FL – “I work at the Hilton Hotel in Altamonte Springs. I do a lot of food prep in the kitchen – salads, dessert cakes, and fruit – a lot of fruit,” says Regina Blanton... Read Regina's story

Explorations Program Gives High School Students with Disabilities a Glimpse of Possible Careers

Old Town, FL – A new program is helping high school students with disabilities check out different career paths before graduation... Read about the Explorations Program

Stand-Up Wheelchair Lets Chef with Disabilities Continue His Career

Winter Haven, FL - Watching Othedus (Theo) Harvin at work in the kitchen at Sonny’s BBQ is like watching a graceful ballet... Read Theo's story

Whole Foods, the Perfect Job for Young Woman with a Disability

Miami, FL – Kendra Ojo, who has an intellectual disability, has found her perfect job at Whole Foods Market South Beach. With support from Vocational Rehabilitation (VR)... Read Kendra's story

Man with Disabilities Has Never Missed a Day on the Job

Tampa, FL – As an employer, how would you like to have an employee who’s never missed a day of work in more than a year? That’s the type of dedication that Krystian Morales, who has autism and ADHD, brings to the job... Read Krystian's story

Arthritis Doesn’t Keep Man’s Career from Rolling Forward

Orlando, FL – As a motor coach operator, David K. Turner enjoys taking people where they need to go. “My favorite part of my job is assisting guests,” he says... Read David's story

Working at Publix is a Pleasure for Young Man with a Disability

Coral Springs, FL – Jonier (JB) Burgos, who has a learning disability, is an important member of the Publix team... Read JB's story

Dive instructor with a disability feels weightless in the water

Naples, FL – Paul Voegerl feels right at home on the water. Whether it’s diving, swimming or sailing, he enjoys being around the ocean... Read Paul's story

Man with Disability Learns the Beauty of Employment

Miami, FL – Lazaro Chaviano, who has a disability, cleans and stocks shelves at CosmoProf, a beauty supply company. “I like everything about my job,” Lazaro says... Read Lazaro's story

Tackling a Disability Comes Easy for Football-Player-Turned-Police-Officer

Mobile, AL/Pensacola, FL – Kenneth Johnson Jr. has found his dream job working as a police officer at the University of South Alabama. It’s also the place where he earned his degree while playing college football... Read Kenneth's stroy

Learning Disabilities Don’t Stop Woman from Playing a Leading Role at Telemundo

MIAMI, FL – Watching television can be a great stress reliever after a long day. But how do the programs get from production to the audience? That’s where people like Ingrid Cupeiro play a leading role... Read Ingrid's story

Young Man with Disability Surprises Himself and His Family with How Having a Job Has Changed His Life

Cocoa, FL – When Shawn Burrows heads to work each day, he does it without complaint – in fact, a smile stretches across his face as he enters Wuesthoff Hospital in Rockledge. For Shawn, who has had three open-heart surgeries due to a pulmonary valve disorder, having a job has changed his life...Read Shawn's story

John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Honored for Its Work with Project SEARCH

St. Petersburg, FL – Most high school students don’t know what they want to do as a career when they graduate, but not Chloe Montanari. Chloe, who has an intellectual disability, had decided on her career path and was offered a job before she even graduated!...Read Project SEARCH story

Keeping the Community Safe

Bonita Springs, FL – The next time you visit a friend at the Hawthorne gated community, you’ll find a friendly face at the guard gate keeping the people and property safe – Rida Hernandez. “l love my job so much!...Read Rida's story

The Melting Pot Goes the Extra Mile to Accommodate Employee Who has a Disability

Coral Springs, FL – Richard Kramer leans against the table at The Melting Pot in Coral Springs making conversation with the customers...Read Richard's story

Dolphins Winter and Hope Have a New Friend in Fernando Zuluaga, Who Also Has a Disability

Clearwater, FL – Hope and Winter, the two famous dolphins at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, have a new friend – Fernando Zuluaga. Fernando points out that, just like Hope, he too has a disability...Read Fernando's story

Kathy Naylor Uses Her Experience Dealing with her Disability to Help Others Find Their Perfect Job

Sarasota, FL – For two decades Kathy Naylor enjoyed a very fulfilling job as an Alzheimer’s and long-term care nurse. However, over the years her Ehlors-Danlos syndrome, a connective tissue disorder, became progressively worse...Read Kathy's story

Van Modifications Give Henry Eichner the Freedom He Needs to Become Part of the Working World Once Again

New Port Richey, FL – If you need to go to work or the store or out to eat, many of us don’t think twice about transportation. Henry Eichner, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, had made some modifications to his truck...Read Henry's story

Knock on Wood: Man with Disability Becomes Furniture Entrepreneur

Wauchula, FL – If you enjoy going to Florida festivals, you may have seen Paul Yates sitting on his handy cart, selling Amish furniture at one of the booths. Paul, who has cerebral palsy, is one of the latest entrepreneurs to come out of Florida Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) this year...Read Paul's story

Local Business Sees Productivity Increase After Hiring Young Man with Autism

St. Petersburg, FL – Flavored syrup manufacturer, Monin, took six months to develop a specific job just for Andrew White, who has autism. No one at the company foresaw just how beneficial their decision would be...Read Andrew's story

Man Survives Brain Injury and Finally Lands His Dream Job

Pinellas Park, FL – Aron Drenzek’s mother, Chris, was given the worst news a mother could get after her son was shot in the head. Doctors told her he would either remain in a vegetative state or he would die; she refused to listen to them...Read Aron's story

Chris Fink, Who has an Intellectual Disability, Found His Place at Publix

St. Petersburg, FL – When Chris Fink stands at the entrance of Publix, eagerly greeting each person who walks into the store, he isn’t just doing his job — he’s enjoying the best part of his day...Read Chris' story

Ashley McGrath Shares Her Experiences Growing Up with a Disability in Her Autobiography UnabASHed by Disability

Palm Bay, FL – When Ashley McGrath was only three months old, doctors told her parents that she may not live to see her first birthday. She was born with a rare genetic condition, campomelic syndrome, that causes serious bone abnormalities and weak muscles...Read Ashley's story

The Sweetest Job

Jacksonville, FL – Employment is sweet for Ashley Williams. She hand rolls, weighs, and packages caramels at Kilwins in Jacksonville as the candy store’s caramel chew packager — and she does it well...Read Ashley's story

Young Man with Asperger’s Syndrome is Loved by His Small Charges

Spring Hill, FL – As a teacher at Little Rascals Daycare, Alex Dissell’s days are filled with the screams, laughter, and occasional tantrums of his three year old students — and he wouldn’t have it any other way...Read Alex's story

Goodwill is a Good Fit for Man with Multiple Disabilities

Ormond Beach, FL – James Molonson has come a long way. In the past, James struggled to find a job that best suited his abilities, because his communication disorder made it difficult to interact with other people in his environment — but today he works as a processor and greeter at Goodwill in Ormond Beach...Read James' story

Organ Donation Plays a Part in Helping Omar Terceros Keep Working

Tampa, FL – Omar Terceros has a history of taking chances. In 1971, he left his home country of Bolivia and came to the United States in hopes of finding a better life. Though he had no family or job prospects in the U.S., the risk paid off – he settled in New Jersey and...Read Omar's story

Her Life Changed Overnight

Tallahassee, FL - One morning in September 2012, Judi Page discovered that her life had changed overnight. Though she displayed no symptoms and had no history of hearing problems, Judi woke up to find that she was completely deaf in her left ear and had limited hearing in her right ear...Read Judi's story

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.”...Read Rhonda's story

Setting Goals Helps Cristy Segura, Who Has a Disability, Reach Her Dream Job

Miami, FL – When Cristy Segura sets her mind to something, she always finds a way to follow through – and it’s that perseverance that has led to her success...Read Cristy's story

Project SEARCH Helps Local Students with Disabilities Find Jobs

Melbourne, FL – Finding a job immediately after graduation is a dream for many students, but it was a reality for Alex Boullion. After completing the Project SEARCH program in December 2014, Alex, who has speech and learning disabilities, began working...Read Alex's story

VR Helps Kathleen Roe Keep Working

Boca Raton, FL – Kathleen Roe has had a long career as a district aide for state legislators. As a district aide, she is responsible for answering the phones and speaking with constituents, so her hearing and voice are two very important tools of the trade...Read Kathleen's story

Innovation Keeps Things from Rolling Downhill

Tampa, FL – Michael Sardinas pushes his specialized cart down the hall at Tampa Crossroads, a non-profit that offers a variety of services to people in need. As the IT assistant, he’s the go-to guy to fix the office computers...Read Michael's story

Preserving Historic Buildings for Future Generations

Orange City, FL - Mark Carstens, who has bipolar disorder and a learning disability, came to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) with a dream and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Historic Preservation from Savannah College of Art and Design...Read Mark's story

Improving Other People’s Health Using Her Life Lessons

Jacksonville, FL - Julie Seals had to hit rock bottom before she decided to take control and do something with her life. Because of complications from Spina bifida, she had to have her left leg amputated...Read Julie's story

Computer Programming – the Perfect Job for Young Man with Asperger’s Syndrome

Tallahassee, FL - “When I was younger,” Joseph Show explains, “doctors told my parents that I would never graduate high school or hold a job or live on my own. Thank goodness our family is stubborn so we didn’t listen to them...Read Joseph's story

Persistence and Determination, with a little Stubbornness Thrown in, Win Out for New Library Employee

Daytona Beach, FL - “Corey North had been volunteering at the [Talking Books] library for as long as I’ve been here – at least six years,” says his supervisor, Melody Kauffman. “I tried to get him to apply for other jobs because the library didn’t have any job openings, but he always said “no,”...Read Corey's story

Modeling Success for People with Disabilities

Miami, FL - Stephanie Perkins, who has Down syndrome, has a dream, and she’s determined to make it come true. “My dream is to become a famous model,” she says. “I model at the mall and competed in the Model of the Year competition in New York City...Read Stephanie's story

A Change in Vision Gives Dennis Lopez a New Career Path

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...Read Dennis' story

Scuba Diving Instructor Who is Deaf Offers Lessons Using ASL

Clearwater, FL – Thomas Koch grew up in Houston, TX, and with most of his family members working for NASA at the Johnson Space Center, he dreamed of following in their footsteps and traveling into space. That is, until he took a trip to the Sonny Carter Training Facility...Read Thomas' story

Organizations Work Together to Help Karlee Hayes become Employed

Tampa, FL – Karlee Hayes, who has cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder, and difficulty with her vision, came to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) while she was still in high school. That’s where she met VR Technician Lindsey Scherger Gray...Read Karlee's story

With a Little Help from Vocational Rehabilitation, Kathy Batson is Flourishing in Her New Job

Sunrise, FL - Kathy Batson, who has a hearing loss, used to shy away from jobs that required a lot of time on the phone or communicating in noisy areas. She avoided jobs that mentioned attending meetings, taking notes, or customer service on the phone...Read Kathy's story

Charley’s Subs is a great place to start for Kevin Durden

Ocala, FL - Kevin Durden has followed the path of many young people. He finished high school, attended vocational training, found his first job, moved into his own apartment, and got his driver’s license – all great milestones...Read Kevin's story

Haitian Immigrant Achieves Success, Dreams with Help of Florida Vocational Rehabilitation

Fort Lauderdale FL – Imagine being hidden away and ignored by your parents because you have a disability. Now imagine that not only can you not hear what other people are saying, they are speaking a number of different languages and are having a difficult time communicating with you...Read Pierre's story

With Help from Vocational Rehabilitation, Latoya Bristor Finds the Right Job for Her

Tampa, FL – Latoya Bristor is very excited about her new job as a cook’s assistant with one of Tampa’s long-standing family food establishments, Wright’s Gourmet Deli. It was a long and winding road to employment that started while she was still in high school...Read Latoya's story

The Wonderful World of Discovery

Orlando, FL – Robert Halliburton, who has Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair, had spent most of his life in an institution for individuals with disabilities. With support from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities and community providers, Robert moved out of the institution and into the community...Read Robert's story

Turning past incarceration into an asset with his new job

Ft. Walton Beach, FL - At one time incarcerated for armed robbery and addicted to drugs, when Gary Virgin came to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) in 2006, he was a self-described “broken man.”...Read Gary's story

Renee Proctor, Who has Multiple Disabilities, Lands Dream Job Tutoring Special Needs College Students

Ocala, FL – Renee Proctor’s list of disabilities is a long one. She’s in constant pain, has dystonia, a neuromuscular movement disorder that distorts her muscles in a painful way and can put her in the hospital for days at a time...Read Renee's story

New Discovery Program helps individuals with significant disabilities find the job best suited for them

Four years ago, Joey Cunio, who has an intellectual disability, came to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). He needed help finding a job that fit his needs. He had tried other jobs in the restaurant and fast food industry, but never stayed for very long...Read Joey's story

A Motorcycle Accident Changed His Life in an Instant

Ft. Myers, FL – There’s an old saying, “your life can change in an instant.” Mike Milita never thought it would happen to him, but it did. A motorcycle accident changed his life in an instant...Read Mike's story

Young man, newly diagnosed, finds career in the culinary arts

Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Arielle Weekes was born in St. Thomas, British Virgin Islands and moved to south Florida with his family in 2000. He always kept to himself and many people just thought he was shy...Read Arielle's story

Starting Over in America

Tampa, FL – Alone in his home, suddenly the ground began to shake violently and with a thunderous sound, his house began falling in on him. It was January 12, 2010 and a 7.0 earthquake was shaking Haiti unlike anything before. As the quake subsided, Alcinor Aurelien found he was buried in concrete debris...Read Alcinor's story

Nhat Do Keeps the Homewood Suites Clean

Tampa/Brandon, FL – When Nhat Do, who has a depressive disorder and a mild intellectual disability, came to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) for help finding a job, he didn’t have any idea of the type of job he wanted to do...Read Nhat's story

Making Candy Even Better!

Orlando, FL – Dawn McCleary’s bright, colorful designs have to be seen to be believed. That three-tiered wedding cake? There’s no cake in there. It’s made up of hundreds of pieces of brightly wrapped candy woven into an intricate design that mimics a cake but is even better...Read Dawn's story

Business is Hot! Hot! Hot! at 2 Hot Peppers

Brandon, FL – "I plan to be a millionaire before I retire!" That’s quite a bold statement from someone whose disability makes it difficult to sit or stand for long periods of time. But Mike Nelson is solidly on the road to becoming a millionaire because...Read Mike's story

Juan Carlos Makes a Difference in Young Peoples’ Lives

Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Juan Carlos Morales was told by doctors that he wouldn’t live past his teenage years. But Juan, who has Muscular Dystrophy, proved them all wrong...Read Juan Carlos' story

Zoo Miami Receptionist Doesn’t Let MS Keep Her from
Doing Her Job

Miami, FL – Sarah Smith-Small has a roaring good time working as a receptionist for Zoo Miami; she also has a disability – multiple sclerosis (MS) – and uses a wheelchair...Read Sarah's story

Baptist Hospital is a Perfect Fit for Young Man with a Disability

Miami, FL – Daniel Joseph loves his job at South Miami Hospital. "I like sweeping the floors and cleaning the tables," he says. "I like working with everybody here. I’m enjoying meeting the people...Read Daniel's story

How to live independently after you graduate from college

Panama City, FL – Kristen Gusmus was born with arthrogryposis, a neuro-musculo-skeletal disorder that affects various joints in the body. By the time she was two years old, she’d had seven surgeries along with...Read Kristen's story

Artist with a Disability Launches Business with Help from Vocational Rehabilitation

Homosassa, FL – Walking through Barbara DeRuiz’ house, you can’t help but notice the beautiful paintings on the walls – portraits, landscapes, and abstract designs. And when you look at the signature at the bottom of the paintings...Read Barbara's story

From Outstanding Volunteer to Paid Staff in 70 Words a Minute

Vero Beach, FL – "Lindsay has a remarkable memory – like a computer. When we’re doing an event, she’s very helpful. She keeps up with who called in, who’s RSVPed, and what needs to be done."...Read Lindsay's story

Tyler Thompson's Teaching Career Takes Off with Help from Vocational Rehabilitation

Polk County, FL – Tyler Thompson always wanted to be a teacher. Even as he struggled through school to learn how to deal with his Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and make passing grades, Tyler was determined to follow his dream...Read Tyler's story

On-the-Job Training Helps Sara Rossman Get Skills Needed for Full Time Job

Tallahassee, FL – Most of the time, a mother knows when there is something wrong with her child, even if she can’t pinpoint exactly what it could be. Sara Rossman’s mom had always felt that there was something in addition to the previously diagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder that was affecting her daughter’s social skills...Read Sara's story

Agencies Work Together to Get New Business Off the Ground

Avon Park, FL – The next time you’re visiting Avon Park, Florida and are looking for something to do, look no further than Sight Unseen Enterprises for fun games to play on land and something called a water pillar (a super-cool looking floating bike with huge wheels that skim across the water)...Read Bobby's story

Michael Benders Overcomes Adversity to Prove His Worth at The Flying Pan

Tampa, FL – When Michael Benders first met Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Counselor Rockne Lee, he was homeless and a recovering drug addict with a personality disorder, but he was determined to turn his life around, and that’s why he came to VR...Read Michael's story

VR Helps Patricia Seabury Find Second Career

Pinellas County, FL – Patricia Seabury had a successful career as an archeologist and once found the remnants of a ship while participating in a dig along a riverbank in New York, before cancer threw her a curve. She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. . .Read Patricia's story

Cooking Up a Dream

Miami, FL – “Success is synonymous with Vocational Rehabilitation (VR),” says VR customer Liliana “Lili” Ferri. When Lili first came to VR and met her counselor, Olga Ramos, she was unemployed and raising her three daughters on her own. . .Read Lili's story

Determination and Drive Help Young Man with a Disability Find a Job with Disney

Orlando, FL – The next time you’re shopping at the World of Disney in Downtown Disney, that friendly face at the cash register could be Edwin Diaz. Edwin, who has cerebral palsy and a mild intellectual disability, is thrilled to have his first “official” job. . .Read Edwin's story

Bobby Higgins – The Real Mr. Clean

Jacksonville, FL – Bobby Higgins loves his job as a janitor at Moran Environmental Recovery and takes pride his work. “I go in at five in the morning, because I want to get all of the vacuuming done before they [employees] get there. . .Read Bobby's story

Chef Keeps Giving Back to the Community and Others with Disabilities

Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Michelle Jones’ story is one of perseverance and inner strength. Michelle has a cognitive disorder as well as learning disabilities. As a single mom and sole provider for her family, she desired a career. . .Read Michelle's story

Perseverance and Persistence Pay off for Harry Kember

Sunrise, FL – “I didn’t hire him because he had a disability. I hired him because he was able to do a specific job that I needed done.” Brian Botting, President of WETTAPS, Inc., is talking about Harry Kember, who has quadriplegia and uses a wheelchair. . .Read Harry's story

VR Customer lands job with the IRS

Jacksonville, FL – Four years ago, Thomas “T.J.” Sullivan, who is Deaf and at the time was also frustrated with a difficult job search, came to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) for help finding a job. He had recently been laid off by AOL and was looking for a new direction. . .Read T.J.'s story

Riding High with Vocational Rehabilitation

Jacksonville, FL – The list of Jose Maestre’s disabilities is a long one. He has “…four herniated disks in my back, herniated disk disease, 14 surgeries on my right knee, [it was] rebuilt twice, chronic pain. . .Read Jose's story

Positive Attitude Secures Stephanie Lewis a Job with Innisbrook Resort

St Petersburg, FL – Stephanie Lewis, who has Down syndrome, wakes up each day excited about her job at Innisbrook Golf Resort and Spa. She looks forward to keeping the cafeteria up to the high standards set forth by resort owners. . .Read Stephanie's story

Perseverance Lands Jessica Juncal a Job with Walgreens

Brandon, FL – They say every journey begins with a first step. But what if you need someone’s help to start that journey? That was the case for Jessica Juncal, who has a developmental disability, but still wanted to make her mark in the workplace. . .Read Jessica's story

Perseverance Lands Steven Romano a Job with Home Depot

Brandon, FL – There’s nothing like a friendly smile and greeting to get you in the mood to shop. And that’s exactly what Steven Romano provides guests at the Home Depot in Valrico. “It’s a great place to work,” he says. “Everyone is friendly to each other.”. . .Read Steven's story

People with Disabilities Find Great Employment Opportunities at Sirata Beach Resort & Conference Center

St Petersburg, FL – At first glance, Chiquita Ivory is like many adults, although some would say she’s friendlier than most. She’s driven to succeed by her strong work ethic and commitment to hustling until the job is done. . .Read Chiquita's story

Habitat for Humanity Embraces Workers with Disabilities

Pasco County, FL – Habitat for Humanity is known worldwide for reaching out to low-income families. They are also committed to giving people with disabilities the chance to work. One local affiliate is going above and beyond when it comes to offering job opportunities to those who just need a chance. . .Read Habitat for Humanity's story

Collaboration Between Disability Groups Leads to Success

St Petersburg, FL – Nichole Redmon will be very honest if you ask her about her job at Jabil, saying that she feels the pressure of working for such an important company. “But I do like it there,” she says. . .Read Nichole's story

Man with Quadriplegia Excels in Computer Field

Pensacola, FL – At 16, Mark Richards was like most teenage boys. He was on the high school swim team and loved hanging out with friends. Then one day, he and his buddy took a boat ride that changed Mark’s life forever. . .Read Mark's story

Ambitious Mom with Disability Starts Company with Help of VR

Titusville, FL – Palma Rasmussen is one tough cookie. She was born with multiple auto-immune diseases that make it difficult for her to stay healthy. Her joints are so badly affected that she has a hard time moving around. In fact, she relies on a wheelchair for any type of mobility. . .Read Palma's story

Former Pro Golfer Achieves Success After Crash Changes His Life

Ft. Walton Beach, FL – At 24 years old, Nate Quillen was at the top of his game. He was a pro golfer with nothing standing in his way. Then one night, the unthinkable happened. His vehicle crashed, leaving him with a major spinal cord injury. Doctors said he’d never walk again. . .Read Nate's story

VR Helps Man with Autism Realize Dream of Opening Business

Lynn Haven, FL – Ian Barbour always knew he wanted to run his own business, but it wasn’t until he started working with Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) that his dreams became reality. Ian, who has autism and other developmental disabilities, was determined to make something of himself. . .Read Ian's story

Teacher with Disability is Role Model for Students

Tampa, FL – “I’ve been in a wheelchair all my life and I don’t let it stop me from doing anything,” Carolyn Diaz says. Truer words have never been spoken. Carolyn has Larsen Syndrome, an inherited condition that affects the development of bones throughout the body. . .Read Carolyn's story

Young Man with Disability Motivates and Inspires Other Students

Tampa/Miami, FL – Labrawn Safford was a junior at a Tampa high school when an automobile accident changed his life – he was actually declared dead upon arrival at the ER. The accident broke his spine leaving him with “incomplete quadriplegia,” which means. . .Read Labrawn's story

Young Man with Disability Mentors and Helps Others

Orlando, FL – A smile and positive attitude aren’t just something Darwin Brascomb puts on for the job. It’s how he chooses to live each and every day. “I love to speak and encourage people,” he says. Diagnosed with cancer, geogenic sarcoma in the knee bone marrow, Darwin had his left leg amputated. . . Read Darwin's story

VR Customer Earns Recognition for Exceeding Sales Goals

Jacksonville, FL – Just a year ago, Dorian Tacker was struggling to keep a job and maintain his health. Dorian has anxiety, depression, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). He also has a hearing impairment- he’s medically deaf in his right ear. The combination made it difficult for him to find a job. . .Read Dorian's story

Challenge Enterprises Honored for Hiring People with Disabilities

Jacksonville, FL – The first time Susan Bence heard her daughter cry and heard, once again, the birds singing outside, she knew she would never be able to thank Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) enough for all they had done for her. . .Read Susan's story

Tidbits Honored for Hiring People with Disabilities

Jacksonville, FL – Lisa Warthen was happy to be alive as she walked away from the accident that left her with organic brain syndrome. “I was the one that was hit by the 18-wheeler off of US-1,”. . .Read Tidbits's story

The Sky is No Limit for Daniel’s Dreams

Ft. Lauderdale, FL – “My biggest challenge was chasing the dream of becoming a pilot,” says Daniel Gizzi. Because Daniel has a hearing disability, many thought reaching this dream would be impossible . . .Read Daniel's story

Dedication and Compassion Help Employee Stand Out

Tallahassee, FL – “I have received more kudos for Frances than I have for any other employee,” says Lance Swedmark, Senior Management Analyst Supervisor at the Department of Revenue (DOR). He is talking about Frances Cooksey, a Revenue Specialist with DOR . . .Read Frances's story

Working in His Dream Job

Palm Bay, FL – Glenn Reaves is proud to be a Materials Analyst for Harris Corporation, working in a new career he loves with an organization who is glad to have him. “He’s very hard working, and he comes to work on time,” says Tom Charland, Glenn’s Stockroom Supervisor. “He’s an excellent employee.” . . .Read Glenn's story

VR Helps Executive Director Keep Working at Art Gallery

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. . .Read Joseph's story

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

Riveria 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). . .Read Senovia's story

Perseverance Pays Off for Two Young People with Disabilities

Miami, FL - Dedication and persistence are adjectives that describe many people with disabilities who come to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) looking for employment. But nothing tested more true for customers Jennifer Huertas and Carl Meeks, who were VR customers for several years before they were hired by Sunset Feed three months ago. It was a process that showed just how resilient and patient they could be. . .Read Jennifer and Carl's story

Customer has 30-year relationship with VR

Tampa, FL – The lifelong relationship one has with a friend or loved one is often the basis of great novels and movies. However, something can also be said about the relationship David Gondreau and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) have sustained over the years. David, who became a person with quadriplegia at the age of 17, has been a VR customer off and on for more than 30 years. . .Read David's story

Five Guys Burgers and Fries Honored for Hiring People with Disabilities

Kissimmee, FL – The lobby area of Five Guys Burgers and Fries sparkles and shines as Krystn Faller greets the guests coming into the store. Her boss, Michael Astrologo, is pleased with how well Krystn does her job. “Krystn is very happy to do her job,” Michael says. “She’s always smiling and she loves her job. That’s one thing I really appreciate about Krystn.”. . .Read Krystn's story

Determination Lands Gary Muniz a Job with Hyatt

Orlando, FL – Gary Muniz, who has a disability, starts his day early in order to get to his job at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress on time. He rides his bike for miles until he reaches the nearest bus station. After a couple of transfers, he travels again on his bike until he reaches his destination. It’s a journey that takes Gary almost three hours, but one he proudly makes. “Working at the Hyatt is amazing,” he says. “I’m so happy here.”. . .Read Gary's story

A Change in Duties Brings Out the Best in Zydre Palukaityte

Panama City, FL – Zydre Palukaityte adjusts the books on the shelf, making sure that each one is in its proper place. On other days, you’ll find her straightening the clothes on the racks and helping customers. “The customers love her,” says Marcie Crumbley, Zydre’s supervisor at Goodwill. “It took a while to get her out of her shell because she’s really quiet, but once I put her on the floor, she was a totally different person.”. . .Read Zydre's story

Daryl Young Finds New Career after Rare Disorder Causes Paralysis

Pensacola, FL – One minute Daryl Young was working as an electrician at an industrial chemical plant and looking forward to becoming a full time deputy sheriff; the next, he was completely paralyzed from the neck down. He had developed transverse myelitis, a rare neurological disorder that causes inflammation of the spinal cord. . .Read Daryl's story

Attention to Good Customer Service Makes Her Shine

Ft. Lauderdale, FL – If you walk into the Walgreens on Commercial Boulevard in Taramac and are greeted by a cheerful, smiling clerk, chances are you have just met Judith Richardson. A stroke in 1991 left her with severe cognitive impairment, but Judith was determined to get well and get back to work. . .Read Judith's story

How Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Saved My Son’s Life: A Mother’s Testimony

Panama City, FL – Rita Somma was like any other mother who worried about her son and wasn’t sure how to help. Rita’s son, Vincent Somma, was incarcerated in January 2009. While in jail, Vincent worked as a trustee for the county, and in the process, severely damaged his shoulder. In October 2009, after serving his time, Vincent left prison wanting to turn his life around for himself and his son. . .Read Vincent's story

Woman with Disabilities Has Found Her Niche

Tampa, FL – “She is a strong presence for our company,” says Emma Blackwelder, Co- owner of Home Helpers (right in photo), which offers in-home care supportive services. As the face of the company, Marketing Assistant Laura Hulsing (left in photo), who has Severe Sleep and Major Depression Disorders as well as Attention Deficient Disorder, networks and educates the community and local businesses about Home Helpers and what they do. Read Laura's story

On-the-Job Training Gives Employees a Start at Pet Hotel

Kissimmee, FL – The 5 Paws Hotel & Salon might be known as a state-of-the-art pet facility, but it is the loving, caring staff that makes the dog grooming studio a great place for both people and pets. That staff includes Astrid Goubault, Damaris Santiago and Hector Cabrera, who all have disabilities, and with help from Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) they are sharing their love of animals. . .Read the Five Paws story

Man Gets Second Chance through Vocational Rehabilitation

Titusville, FL – James Williams was looking for a second chance when he came to his local Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) office. James, who has learning disabilities and struggled with drug addiction, unsuccessfully tried to find employment on his own and had almost given up hope. That’s when his sister Aimee, a VR employee in Atlanta, suggested he go to VR and get the extra help he needed. . .Read James' story

Going the Extra Mile at FIT

Melbourne, FL – While driving on the highway early one morning in Massachusetts, Nikki Wouralis was involved in an accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down. However, Nikki faces each new day with a positive attitude and the strength of mind of someone thankful to be alive. “If it had gone a different way,” she says. “I might not be here right now.”... Read Nikki's story

Vocational Rehabilitation Gives Marc New Hope

Ft. Lauderdale, FL – It was a case of mistaken identity that left Marc Williams with Post Traumatic Stress and Major Depressive Disorders. Marc is not shy about sharing his story. Driving home one evening, Marc pulled into a local park to place a phone call, and, unknowingly, was caught in the middle of a drug sting operation. When he stepped out of the car, he was attacked by law enforcement. . .Read Marc's story

A Slip in the Rain Changed His Life

Dunnellon, FL – A simple slip in the rain sent William Garnaflo down an unexpected path to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and Counselor Patricia Harrison. That slip broke his elbow, and in an instant, took away his ability to use his hand and arm freely. He couldn't comb his hair, he couldn't put on a jacket, and he went into a depression for two years. . . Read William's story

A Complete Turnaround

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.. . Read Ruth's story

A Special Graduation Day

Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Graduation is a special time for every hard-working student, but for Megan Menconi, graduating from Florida International University on August 13 means more than embarking on a new chapter in her life. It means starting on a career path she's excited about, and not letting her disability dictate what she can and cannot do. . . Read Megan's story

Icing on the Cake!

Tallahassee, FL – Kevin Graham smiles as he whips together the ingredients to make the frosting for red velvet cupcakes, one of the specialty items sold at Lucy & Leo's Cupcakery in Tallahassee. Kevin smiles because he truly enjoys being a Baker's Assistant, a job that he found through Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). . . Read Kevin's story

Young man with disabilities helps others find balance

Brandon, FL – When Jon Viera, who has muscular spinal atrophy and uses a power chair, first met with Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Counselor Karen Wilkinson to discuss his career goals, he knew that he wanted a job where he could work with people and make a difference in their lives. Now, as an Independent Living Coordinator for Self-Reliance, Inc, Jon is living his dream . . . Read Jon's story

Former VR Customer Now Refers Others to VR

Winter Springs, FL – Jennifer Kramer was a typical teenager, trying to figure out what she wanted to do with her life. However, having ADD made it difficult for Jennifer to focus, which made it hard for her to decide what she wanted to do with her future. So when a neighbor recommended that she reach out to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), Jennifer came, hoping VR would be able to give her some direction. . . Read Jennifer's story

Young Man with Disability Inspires Students

Kissimmee, FL – The unique group of high school students listens attentively to the young man standing before them. Not long ago, Jesse Riddle, who has a learning disability, had been sitting where they are right now. But with drive and determination, he is living his dream of helping people with disabilities find employment, and in the process, has become a role model and inspiration for the students of Osceola County. . . Read Jesse's story

Giving Others Power through her Paint

Lakeland, FL – Taking a dreary situation and turning it into an uplifting experience is a skill Danise Rosak loves to do with color and style. So when she started her own business, Danise had one goal in mind: to use her art to encourage others and give them hope. Since then, Danise has followed her passion across the country, creating murals and realistic artwork for hospitals, offices, and federal buildings all over the nation. . . Read Danise's story

She says it with flowers

Cross City, FL – Betty Ann Beckham places the last red rose in the bouquet, looks around her newly remodeled flower shop, and smiles. "I am so blessed," she says. "I just can't put into words how much easier and better it's been since they [Vocational Rehabilitation] fixed up the flower shop.". . Read Betty Ann's story

On-the-Job Training Leads to Success

St. Petersburg, FL – Chris Giuffrida is thrilled to be working as a law clerk. The young man who has spina bifida and uses leg braces answers the phone, makes copies, files, delivers the mail, and does anything else that is needed to help make the attorneys' jobs at the Law Firm of James E. Hack a little easier. It was a long road to employment through the Pinellas County School System and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), but it was definitely worth it. . . Read Chris' story

Volunteer Assistant Brings Awareness to Disabilities

St Petersburg, FL – Alonna Torres was always shy and quiet, but lately she has blossomed, becoming more outgoing and confident in her new job as volunteer assistant for Great Explorations Children's Museum. Alonna, who has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair, works closely with Program Director Shelly Lee, helping her with the museum's 300+ volunteers. Alonna inputs volunteer hours and information, files, and helps out at the museum's special events. She also gives museum tours to new volunteers. . . Read Alonna's story

On-the-Job Training Leads to Success

Spring Hill, FL – On any given day you may find Michael Sawyer peeling, slicing or breading eggplant, folding or stamping boxes, or performing any number of other jobs at Mr. G's Foods. What you can count on is that Michael will be there early, work hard, and stay focused until the job is done – the kind of employee managers dream about. What you may not know about Michael is that he has autism but that doesn't slow him down. . . Read Michael's story

Bringing Home Success

Tampa/Panama City, FL – For more than 12 years, Hyatt Hotels of Florida has partnered with Hands On Education and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) to provide a reality-based hospitality training program designed specifically for people with disabilities. The students are referred by VR, become temporary Hyatt employees, and are paid during their two weeks of training. . . Read Justine's story

Ability Shines Bright

Coral Springs, FL – "Would you like to check out my candles?" asks Jessica Schmidt, with excitement and eagerness. The business owner knows everything about her environmentally friendly soy candles, and she sells them passionately. Jessica is proud to hand out her business card representing ScentsAbility, a company that manufactures "special candles made by special people.". . Read Jessica's story

A Familiar Understanding

Tallahassee, FL – Joe Rapisardo always knew he wanted to help people with disabilities and he is more than qualified to pursue his dream. Not only does he have a degree in Rehab Counseling from Florida State University, but Joe lives with a disability himself. The 24 year-old from Homestead is a double amputee and uses prosthetics for mobility. . . Read Joe's story

Teamwork Leads to an All-Star Worker

Port Orange, FL – Ryan Gardner pushes his cleaning cart with passion, pride and purpose. The 28 year-old from Volusia County wakes up every morning at 5:30 a.m., eagerly anticipating his work at Countryside Lakes Assisted Living Facility. "I love my job," says Ryan, who has Down syndrome and a Bilateral Hearing Impairment. . . Read Ryan's story

On-the-Job Training - A 'Win-Win' Business Strategy

Zephyrhills, FL – Russell Bailey's physical and mental disabilities made it difficult to find and keep a job. He was unemployed and living at Lighthouse Ministries when he learned from an acquaintance about Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). That's when things started to looking up. . . Read Russell's story

She's Found Her Niche

Spring Hill, FL – Starla Sansom places another peeled eggplant into the slicing machine and smiles. Starla, who has developmental disabilities, has finally found a place where she can shine, where she can show her skills, where she fits in. . . Read Starla's story

Overcoming Adversity to Follow Her Dreams

Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Erica Whorley lives life to the fullest – and for good reason. She has reached her goal of having a successful career in the medical field and is forever thankful for the assistance she received from Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). . . Read Erica's story

Putting Her "Paws" to Work

Tallahassee, FL – When Sara Chamlis was younger, she tamed a feral cat and convinced her parents to let her adopt it. Always poised and confident, there was never a doubt in anyone's mind that Sara had a natural ability to work with animals. . . Read Sara's story

Grocer Bags Success

Pembroke Pines, FL – When Randy Kugler started working at Winn Dixie nine years ago, he was already a go-getter. Described by his father as a "real leader" and a "role model," Randy has always been admired by his friends and co-workers because he . . . Read Randy's story