SUCCESS STORY OF RUTH QUINONES
DIVISION: DRS/El Paso
Ruth Quinones has the motivation and the sincerity to achieve
her dreams. She hasn’t let mild mental retardation and anxiety
disorder get in the way of her desire to become a floral
decorator in El Paso.
When Ruth came to DARS, she was a high school student with a limited work history. She had been participating in the school district’s Small Business Enterprise selling snacks at the local Workforce Center. She had also been working a short time for a local Walgreens but was unable to handle the physical demands for the job. She is not able to stand for long periods of time, walk long distances or transport heavy items.
Nevertheless, Ruth wanted to become independent and productive in “the real world.” She decided to attend a vocational training program at the district’s Vocational Center to obtain the skills for becoming a floral decorator.
In October of 2006, her Vocational Adjustment Coordinator referred Ruth to DARS for assistance in obtaining and maintaining work. Transition Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Andrew Castillo met with Ruth and her mother to explain DARS services and help her begin the application process.
Ruth developed a rapport and a trust with Andrew and began to discuss her goals and dreams. She had always felt discriminated against because of her disability. Andrew administered tests that would help him understand Ruth’s potential, with information on her interests, skills and previous work experience. Her qualifications matched a total of 57 occupations she could explore.
Together, Ruth and Andrew agreed that DARS Supported Employment services would meet her needs and assist her in obtaining and maintaining the job that she wanted. The service focuses on consumer needs and interests and identifying suitable job matches and supports necessary to maintain employment.
Although one of the jobs Ruth applied for didn’t turn out to be what she was expecting, it didn’t deter her from finding the very job she wanted. Within a week, Ruth got a call for an interview with Xicali Imports and was hired as a floral decorator where she currently assembles flower arrangements, bows and corsages for special occasions.
Ruth said, “I was never so scared in my life about my first experience in trying to find a job. I was feeling insecure, embarrassed, but most of all afraid that people were going to discriminate against me. My Counselor and the service provider made me realize I have potential. They believed in me and pushed me not to give up and continue pursing my dreams. Now I have a job I enjoy. I have made new friends, but most of all feel I do not have a disability and can accomplish anything I want with confidence and a smile. Thank you DARS!”