Consumer Satisfaction, From Our Consumers
In Their Own Words
It took a whole year, but I finally got to meet with our Governor, Jon Huntsman. It was on declaration day, June 18th, and boy, was I excited. My husband Wes, my dog, BettyBoop, and my teacher, Dr. Lewis Jensen, went with me so I could present the hand-carved plaque I carved, with the story of my life, carved on the back, to thank him and the Utah legislature for funding Vocational Rehabilitation, who paid for my training and my equipment to get me into my business of gunstock carving, gourd carving, sandblasting on crystal and glass and airbrushing. It was a long and difficult process with developing a business plan and proving myself worthy to receive this funding, but I feel like I've paved the way for others. Vocational Rehabilitation has now closed my case, allowing me to continue on my own. Even though it's been a long, hard road, it has been worth all the stress and effort that was involved. I am very appreciative to Darin Orme, my VR counselor, my teacher Dr. Lewis Jensen, and my wonderful husband and caretaker, Weston Ross.
I have a dream of going to the Veterans Administration and teaching those young men and women, who have been disabled, not having the same skills they had when they went to Iraq, the same skills that I learned and the joy in producing things of beauty, objects that bring self confidence and pride. I want to show them that there is a new way to enjoy life. A way they never dreamed could be. I have Cerebral Palsy. I can't open my hands completely nor can I do any of those personal things like, bath, dress, cook, etc. without my husband’s assistance, but I can carve and create and it's not a talent, it's a joy and it sure raises my self esteem. I've been disabled since birth. I can only imagine how deflating and frightening life can be when your life has suddenly taken a different direction, and you can't imagine any hope of earning a living or achieving any purposeful goal in life. I can raise their self esteem and teach them that if I can do this, they can certainly do this too, and I don't mean basket weaving or fitting them into a new job career.
Governor Jon Huntsman gave me the name of a gentleman at the Veterans Administration and now it is up to me to make my dream come true and give back to those who may have no hope, those who gave their lives for us, to see what I have achieved, in spite of my disability, and show them that life can be pretty darn exciting for them as well. I am grateful for Governor Huntsman's encouragement and help in this endeavor. I would also like to start a program for kids coming out of prison. Most often they are thrown out on the street, no skills, no training, only to return to jail again. I believe they can learn a very marketable skill that will put them on the road to success instead of continual failure, one day at a time. I need government backing. I'm not wealthy, but with monetary help, I can uplift and teach them so that they can be successful in their lives too. I am a persistent soul, never abandoning my dreams and for this alone, I will succeed.
March 22, 2006
VR Central Office
3024 Dupont Circle
Jefferson City, MO 65109
January 20, 2004
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am a former client of the Vocational Rehabilitation program in Missouri. I would like to let the people in charge of the program know just how much the program changed my life.
I was a ward of the state for six years, from age 12 to age 18, though I was left in the physical custody of my mother. I grew up in a tiny town with a very small high school. My peers reminded me every day, in every way that they possibly could, that I didn’t have a chance to do anything after high school besides work in a factory—if I could hold down a job at all. They tried to make me believe that since I was raised on child support checks, welfare, and food stamps, I would have to settle for that for the rest of my life.
They might have been right if not for Vocational Rehabilitation.
In the fall of 1998, with the help of my Vocational Rehabilitation counselor, I entered college at Missouri Southern State College (now Missouri Southern State University) in Joplin, Missouri. I kept a high GPA throughout. All of my professors encouraged me to go on with my education and come back to teach.
I am currently engaged in acquiring my master’s in English, on my way to a Ph.D. I have even won a position as a graduate teaching assistant (I teach Expository Writing I and II.). I wouldn't be where I am without the aid of the Vocational Rehabilitation program of Missouri. This program helped me turn myself from a drain on the taxpayers into a taxpayer myself. Out of all the programs designed to help those who don't have the money to help themselves, this one is the one I would be the most proud to help fund. This program works.
Thank you for your time. And thank you for your help.
(Consumer’s name withheld to protect confidentiality.)
May 5, 2003
Ronald Vessell, Assistant Commissioner
VR Central Office
3024 Dupont Circle
Jefferson City, MO 65109-0525
Dear Mr. Vessell:
This letter is intended to thank your organization and to praise one or your counselors. I got your address off the VR website – I hope this is going to the correct person.
I will be graduating college this Saturday afternoon with my bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering technology thanks to a couple of very special people in the St. Joseph VR office. Three years ago, I first met with Yvonne Wright to apply for educational assistance. She was very helpful in introducing me to my counselor, Kevin West.
Kevin has met with me and supported my educational efforts throughout my college experience. He has treated me with utmost respect, consideration, and compassion, along with his distinguished professionalism. He has been both available and helpful when problems arose. I believe Kevin West is to be commended for his dedication and hard work with his clients.
My grade point average is very high, along with receiving numerous awards for my academics. Yes, I was the one going to class and doing the work, but the support I received from Kevin and his office was the foundation allowing me to focus on studies.
Personally, I have never felt better about myself. This degree is part of me now, and should help me in a career that I could recently only dream about. VR and Kevin West have been a big part of that transformation and for that I am grateful.
In closing, let me say that I am writing this letter of my own accord, and that Kevin doesn’t even know I’m doing it.
(Consumer’s name withheld to protect confidentiality.)
September 15, 2002
Department of Public Health and Human Services
Vocational Rehabilitation Program
To whom it may concern,
I would like to take this time to thank you and your department for the help and counseling I received when I graduated from high school. I was a graduate from Great Falls Public High School in 1964. I was not a Rhodes Scholar, but did well enough in school to know I would like college. The problem was I was broke and my family was broke and on public assistance at that time. When I graduated I figured I would have to find some sort of manual labor job and do the best I could. My problem was compounded by the fact I had only one arm, the other being affected by a birth defect. It wasn’t until after I graduated that I became aware of what your services could do for me. You put me through school at Montana State University and I graduated in 1968 with a teaching degree. I have been a teacher for the last 35 years and enjoy working with young people and passing on my knowledge and enthusiasm. I have taught art for the past thirty odd years and am currently teaching history at Lincoln County High School in Eureka, Montana.
In case you have one of those bad days I would like to remind you that by helping me you have helped over three thousand students that I have taught over the years. I might have become one of the statistics and spent my life on the welfare rolls, instead I have been a productive taxpayer. I hope I am passing along the good work that you in your capacity as rehab workers and counselors have given me. Your work is very important, it gives a chance or sometimes another chance to those that can most need it.
Thanks again, a grateful client
Robert L. Nichols
October 23, 2002
Indiana Department of Vocational Rehabilitation
402 W. Washington Street
Indianapolis, In 46204
I received financial help from you in 1970 and 1971 under my maiden name of W.J. I am now in a financial position to repay most of the benefits I received at that time. I am enclosing a check for $2,000, which I would like you to use as you see fit in your work of helping disabled Hoosiers. I am not in a financial position to pay you interest on the money. However, I want you to know I am now 58 years old, and am including your agency in my will.
Best of Luck as our state and nation struggle through difficult times.
Thursday, August 08, 2002
To: Bobby Simpson, Director of Vocational Rehabilitation Services
My name is Kevin Gaynor and I am writing to offer thanks for the services I received from The Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. Reaching my goals took quite some time, but I recently graduated with honors from The Oregon Institute of Technology with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science - Nuclear Medicine Technology Option. I passed the national boards examination with the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board, so I am now a licensed Nuclear Medicine Technologist. I have just been hired at a new job that will be paying me $37 per hour. My new employer has given me a sign on bonus and paid for my moving expenses.
There is a national shortage of qualified help in all areas of health care now and this shortage is going to get worse. Nurses, Radiologic Technologists and all highly skilled people in health care must first go to school and receive specialized training before they can enter the health care field. The Department of Vocational Rehabilitation has been a great help in aiding to fill the void of qualified health care workers across this country.
Yes, it is expensive for The Department of Vocational Rehabilitation to give aid financially to clients going for a quality education, but the money will come back to the government many times over once the client begins work. In my case, I am a single man with no children. I do not have to mention how much of my salary will be taken out in taxes.
I heard there might be some changes taking place in The Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. Speaking now as both a taxpayer and a former client, I cannot emphasize how important I feel it is to keep VRD doing what it does so well. From my first day at VRD, I was impressed with the compassion that all of the staff had toward clients. Every staff member that I ever dealt with was genuinely concerned with the rehabilitation of his or her clients. I am grateful that my counselor, Kelly Franklin, was empowered to look beyond a “short term fix” and help me to get a degree in the field we both felt I was right for me with my physical limitations. Kelly Franklin believed in me and offered me flexibility from start to finish of my education. There were times that I had to go to school part-time. There were times when I had difficulties in college. She would always take the time to listen to what was going on with me. Together, we would come up with a plan to keep me continuing with my education and it paid off.
When I was getting closer to completing my degree, Kelly received a promotion, which meant she would no longer be my counselor. Kelly and I had worked together for some time and she knew my situation very well. I feel very fortunate that after she was promoted, she still decided to carry my caseload along with all of her new duties. She was not required to do this; she did so because she cares about the success of her clients. Kelly is just one example of the many compassionate people at VRD working to help clients achieve their goals.
I hope that The Department of Vocational Rehabilitation can remain intact and continue to help clients the same way that I was helped with my rehabilitation. I feel this is not only important to the individual clients, but this is important to the future of the health care system in our country. I am sure there are many other industries in our country that would be affected by changes to VRD also.
Kevin P.Gaynor, CNMT
Greetings from Scottsdale, AZ!
My boss and the head accountant at Roche Bobois were so happy with a reconciliation report I did last week, they sent me down here to Scottsdale to audit another store. What a hoot! Don’t tell anyone *I FAILED ALGEBRA* Anyway, I have been down here since Saturday, and don’t know when I’ll be done exactly. The records here are in quite a state. The store manager, Ann, has already offered me a position with her store. Something to think about....
I wanted to thank you for all your help Jeanette. The months of training, and the work to find work, were very trying times for me. Quite a shift of gears. Because of the phone work, I have had to address my hearing impairment up front, something I have fought for too long. A very good thing, with only positive results. The additional good news is that I have 3 art contracts with the Forest Service also going on. This helps me maintain my artistic integrity.
Just the balance I need. I am finally able to try and find a place of my own (and the pooch too!), and will truly be settled.
I see cookies in your future,
Very best regards,
D e b r a
October 18, 2002
I wanted to thank you one more time for your help, and for your faith in me. You are a Godsend in my life and I will always appreciate you for what you are doing to help me get back on my feet.
Never in a million years would I have expected my life to have to go through all that has happened to me over the past 4 years. It has been incredibly difficult to have to deal with all that has gone wrong, and I was just about out of energy when you came along and gave me hope, one more reason to try.
I will always be grateful to you for what you have done and for what you're doing to help me through these difficult times. Thank you, Ricky. Thank you very much! I will try to make you proud of me for what I will accomplish with the rest of my life.
Good luck to you, Ricky. I wish you only the best.
I was a union truck driver and had to leave that job because of an accident where I lost the use of my right arm. With the encouragement of Vocational Rehabilitation, I started back to school in business and management at DMACC. After two semesters, I knew I did not want to go to school any more. I talked with DVRS about starting my own business as a painter, an occupation I knew well because my father was in that work. They gave me the chance to start my own business that I began about 9 months ago. I have 4 employees in the summer and 2 in the winter. My goal is to be a successful independent contractor. So far, I have been so busy that my first chance to take a few days off was last week. I appreciate their support and encouragement.
Tom Gordon, Owner
G & W Painting & Home Repair, Des Moines
My car accident was in February of 1999 and I broke my neck. I was a freshman in college with a goal of heating and cooling sales, installation and repair. I was told I would never walk again and my career goals were no longer attainable. I was referred to Vocational Rehabilitation and they assisted me in setting new goals and returning to school. They provided a voice activated computer, hand controls and a lift for my van so that I could get to school and eventually to work. I graduated with a degree in business management. Vocational Rehabilitation helped me in setting goals that were realistic. Without them, I would not have been able to move forward with my life as fast as I have.
I’m a 56 year old bus driver in Bettendorf. I have always struggled knowing that I cannot read very well. I felt very inadequate as I could not read bedtime stories to my sons. No one will ever know how helpless I felt, especially when the boys reached school age and I could not help them.
Earlier last year I was told about Vocational Rehabilitation services. I called them and asked if they could help me with my reading problem. They made it possible for me to meet with a reading strategist. After one hour, I could tell the difference in my reading. In ten weeks my reading level has gone from third grade to eighth grade. I feel like I have been in a cocoon. I could have given up long ago but life is too precious to me. I have so many goals to reach and reading is a big part of each goal. Now I can fulfill my greatest dreams!
I was a semi-truck driver and had to change careers due to heart bypass surgery and 4 hospitalizations due to the stress of driving. I was able to stay in my home community with the help of Vocational Rehabilitation. My wife and I purchased the bowling alley that had lost money for the past 7 years and were able to bring it to a profit in the first year. Thanks to Vocational Rehabilitation who helped with some of the equipment such as tools, a freezer, a refrigerator and microwave. We now have sponsored high school bowling teams and the leagues are back in place. Without Vocational Rehabilitation we could not have gotten a new start like we did. This is our second year and we doubled the profit we had the first year.
Lonnie & Diane Huntsman
I owe so much to Vocational Rehabilitation! From a high school drop out working at minimum wage physical labor jobs, I had to change goals because of degenerative disc disease. I would never have been able to change careers and become an attorney without their support. They encouraged me to get my legal assistant degree from Iowa Lakes and then pursue law school. I now have a law practice, pay payroll taxes for my employee and myself, own a law firm that pays property taxes, and pay income taxes. My business has been able to grow faster due to the support from Vocational Rehabilitation and the Entrepreneurs with Disabilities program.
Pederson Law Firm
I had been on Social Security Disability for 10 years and they suggested I contact Vocational Rehabilitation about going to work. When asked what I really wanted to do, I explained that cooking was my therapy and I wanted to operate a restaurant. They showed me a different way to access my dream. I am now off of Social Security, own and operate my own restaurant, and am following my dream. I became a taxpayer instead of tax user.
Laura Williams, Owner
Around Town Grille
313 East Locust Street
I had to leave my job as activities coordinator in a nursing home due to back injuries and subsequent surgeries. After three surgeries and a hip replacement, I needed a new career. I didn’t want to live on welfare! Vocational Rehabilitation helped me figure out a new career. I always had wanted to do taxidermy but was afraid my back would not allow that. Through an evaluation at the training facility, adaptive equipment was identified that would allow me to develop my own taxidermy business. My counselor has been supportive and was at my grand opening taking video of my business. Without their support, identification of adaptive equipment, and encouragement, I would not have my own business. I have expanded to where I am now teaching others and currently have 4 students with another 5 applicants.
JoAnn Hayhoe, Kindred Spirits School of Taxidermy
I was injured about 6 years ago while working in plumbing and heating. My career was down the drain. After about 2 years of feeling sorry for myself, I was in contact with Vocational Rehabilitation. They did some assessments and advised me that I had potential for retraining. It took some convincing from my Vocational Rehabilitation counselor but I enrolled at Southwestern Community College in accounting. The school was very accommodating and provided the special equipment I needed to be able to attend. I told my counselor that I would have a job within 2 weeks of graduation…and I did. Vocational Rehabilitation helped get the special equipment I needed at work. I have moved from a teller to a loan officer and now am Assistant Vice President of the State Savings Bank in Creston.
With my back problems, no one would hire me. After months of looking for work…or maybe it was years…a friend brought a computer cartridge to me and asked that I “fix” it. That experience led me to believe there was a market for remanufactured cartridges and I worked with Vocational Rehabilitation and their Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program. As an employer, I hire people with disabilities because I remember what it was like not to be given a chance to work and fee like I had value.
Gene VanGrevenhof, Owner
Eagle Communications, Fort Dodge
While in high school, my guidance counselor didn’t feel I could take college-prep classes because of my dyslexia. They discouraged me from even considering college training. Vocational Rehabilitation encouraged me and helped me realize the accommodations I would need in high school and college. My rehabilitation counselor went to bat for me and was always available to support my decisions to pursue my dream. I graduated from Graceland and Palmer and am now a licensed doctor in Iowa and Minnesota. I have set high goals and, with the help of my Vocational Rehabilitation counselor, have met them!
Northeast Iowa Area
I really appreciate what Vocational Rehabilitation did for me. I could not stand the work at McDonalds and they helped me set up a web-based business called Darryls Novelty Shop. They helped me get a point and speak so that I could operate the computer, send business correspondence, and communicate with customers. You can visit my web site at www.darrylsnoveltyshop.com and I would welcome your business.
Just before I left Woodward I became a Vocational Rehabilitation
client. Upon returning to Dubuque, my counselor found me a job as a
housekeeper making beds and cleaning rooms. I stayed there 18 years. I
really appreciated the help I got from the Iowa Division of Vocational