April is National Autism Awareness Month

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Welcome to the April addition of the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center Foundation's newsletter! Did you know that April is National Autism Awareness Month? Nearly a quarter century ago, the Autism Society launched a nationwide effort to promote autism awareness, inclusion and self-determination for all, and assure that each person with ASD is provided the opportunity to achieve the highest possible quality of life. At the WWRCF, we believe all individuals have the right to employment and independence, regardless of their disability.

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VR Workforce Studio Podcast News

Welcome to Episode 65 of the VR Workforce Studio Podcast, as we celebrate National Autism Awareness month! This episode, we speak with Jared Lem, an IT professional at the U.S. Geological Survey. He shares his stories about vocational rehabilitation, autism, and how he landed that job out at USGS. Take a listen or read the podcast transcript below!

We are also excited to announce that the VR Workforce Studio Podcast is now featured on the front page of the National Rehabilitation Association website! It's an honor to connect with these national partners and have the opportunity to share our story with a larder audience. It's also exciting to see the podcast located next to their ICON for the Journal of Rehabilitation Counseling, which serves Academia and the National VR Community.

The WWRC Foundation is grateful for the continued assistance that we receive in support of the Center. Additionally we extend our gratitude to our wonderful partners in podcasting who have made these episodes possible:

Aladdin Foods | Career Pathways for Individuals with Disabilities (CPID) | Community Foundation of Central Blue Ridge | Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) | CVS Health | Dominion Energy | Global Impact Today Radio Network | Hershey Chocolate Company | Jesse Ball Dupont Fund | United Bank | Valley to Virginia Grant | Virginia Manufactures Association | Virginia Voice | Wells Fargo 

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Certified Logistic Associate Training 

Over the last few weeks WWRC piloted a new Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act recognized credential, Certified Logistics Associate (CLA) into the Materials Handling and Production & Assembly training programs. The CLA, under the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC), is a foundational-level credential that helps prepare individuals for careers in the rapidly growing and changing world of global supply chain logistics. The goal of the CLA certification program is to raise the level of performance of logistics workers both to assist the individual in finding higher-wage jobs and to help employers ensure their workforce increases the company’s productivity and competitiveness. Critical work functions and their related key activities for the CLA include: global supply chain logistics life cycle, logistics environment, material handling equipment, safety principles, safe material handling and equipment operation, quality control principles, workplace communications, teamwork and workplace behavior to solve problems, and using computers. The results were encouraging as seven of the nine students tested (78%) were successful in acquiring their CLA credential. Congratulations to each one who achieved their CLA and to the various teams of staff and partners who have worked hard to put this in placed.

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WWRC is moving forward with its Medical-to-Work program with a focus on WIOA. Staff in the medical division are churning out success stories:  

Tevi Mensah is a 49-year-old resident of Charlottesville, Virginia, who experienced a CVA in March 2018. Mr. Mensah had been employed on a full-time basis in the UVA Digestive Health Department as an Access Associate. For the last seven years, he worked in various medical clinics at UVA and had a strong desire to return to work following his stroke. He made two attempts to return to work after he received inpatient and outpatient therapy services through Health South, but these were not successful. He was then connected with Tracy Topolosky at DARS and was admitted to WWRC for additional therapy services. 

Mr. Mensah had an intensive, inpatient therapy program (OT, PT and SP) in September and October. He also received a vocational evaluation and a computer evaluation. As part of his rehabilitation, he completed a simulated work experience in the Counseling Department managing the front desk. In November, Mr. Mensah was discharged home. He continued receiving driver’s training on an outpatient basis. On February 4, he successfully passed his driving test and his license was re-issued. On February 11, 2019, he started a new job at UVA. Mr. Mensah is currently working full time as an Access Associate at the Spine Center and doing well. 

Happy New Year from the WWRCF!

2019 is shaping up to be a great year! We are excited to bring you news on our VR Workforce Studio Podcast, new partnerships, board members and more. As always, thank you for your support of the WWRC Foundation, and our mission to create a path forward through vocational rehabilitation at the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center.

VR Workforce Studio: Finding an Edge

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Listen to this amazing story about a phenomenal partnership that’s opening up career pathways that help individuals with disabilities train for and go to work in modern manufacturing as skilled and credentialed registered apprentices. 
Chris’ pathway to employment followed a circuitous and challenging route after childhood trauma left him with a variety of disabilities. He enrolled in vocational rehabilitation at the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center and found purpose and a new beginning in the Center’s Manufacturing Technology Training (MTT) program. After enrolling in a Pre-Apprenticeship Program through the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board, Chris began work at the Hershey Chocolate plant in Stuarts Draft, Virginia. Today, Chris works as an Industrial Manufacturing Technician Apprentice (IMTA) within his job as a production operator on the “almond joy-snack size” line. 

What a Gift!

In addition to this special partnership we extend a very special thanks to our friends at The Hershey Company, Karen VanCuren and Dennis Winnett (Stuarts Draft plant) as well as Katrina Briddell, who manages corporate philanthropy & community engagement, for $25,000 in funding assistance for the WWRC MTT Program! What an incredible gift in support of our mission to help the programs of WWRC. We continue to be blessed by these special partners.

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Many Thanks to United Bank

“Excellence in service to our communities”, is part of the mission statement at United Bank. With the community being at the heart of their work, United Bank believes in its mission to have strong partners to connect with people who need help the most. This is how United Bank’s Premier Partnership was created - as a way to reach out, connect and serve. The WWRC Foundation is honored to have been selected to be this year’s Augusta County Premier Partner through Haley Shull, Branch Manager of the Waynesboro United Bank. As a premier partner, WWRCF will receive a number of benefits from marketing promotions and volunteerism to monetary and in kind support, to name a few. Many thanks to Untied Bank for their generosity and concern for our mission to serve individuals with disabilities through physical rehabilitation and vocational training as they reach independence and self-sufficiency through employment.

A warm welcome to our new board members!

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