Working as a navigator at Workforce Solutions allows me the opportunity to work with many inspiring individuals. Recently, I was introduced to one such customer who has chosen to meet life’s challenges through his own special blend of tenacity, spirituality and encouragement! He spoke of the many benefits of combining Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) and Workforce Solutions Services; both agencies were paramount in helping him reach his employment goals.
I was inspired by his story, asked permission to share our conversation, and he graciously accepted.
Mr. Hill, how did DARS assist you in your job search? Please elaborate for our blog readers.
In 2006, I was diagnosed as legally blind and ended up leaving a warehouse position with a major distributor. My mother had done research and told me about DARS, so that’s where I went. Once accepted, I received training in mobility, voice recognition, individual living skills, Braille, and cooking; basically learning how to function without sight.
After training, I received a job coach through DARS who assisted me in getting jobs in housekeeping and food service. Another warehouse opportunity arose but didn’t work out because of my vision.
I then received another job coach through DARS who helped me get on with the airport as a customer service representative. I left the airport after two and a half years to briefly pursue another position with an energy company. When that fell through, I was able to contact my previous employer and get my customer service job back having left them on good terms.
Your ability to bounce right back after change and constant adversity is inspirational! Are you still a Customer Service Representative with the airport?
Yes, I‘m still there. I answer questions from customers, process credit cards, take tickets and assist in whatever way necessary.
What part did Workforce Solutions play in achieving your goals?
The computer assistance; Workforce Solutions provided all of the resources needed to complete paperwork including electronic applications for the position I have now. The resource room specialist helped me change colors of backgrounds so I could use it. It is a blessing to be able to use the forms of technology that Workforce Solutions has to offer. If you are having difficulty with the computer, just raise your hand and someone will come over to assist you! People may not be aware, but services at Workforce Solutions are free to use! All you have to do is take the time to use them to be successful and achieve your goals.
An employment Counselor helped me during the application process with forms I couldn’t see. She asked me different questions to determine how to help me get back to work and helped me complete forms for my current position.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
The confidence I gained through working with DARS and Workforce Solutions led me to follow my dream of writing and become involved with a ministry called Spoken Word, Prophetic Poetry. It came about through a friend acknowledging that I had a gift for being able to take names, places, things or people and come up with a unique and creative poem. This led to me authoring a book, “Spoken Word Spiritual Undertaking.”
Hopefully this story has inspired you to reach your employment goals regardless of the challenges you may be facing.
Frieda Carmouche is a member of the Regional Navigator team specializing in training, educating and assisting employers, and career center staff throughout the Gulf Coast with community resources, outreach events and technical support in assisting job seekers with disabilities. A native Houstonian with a love of training and development, Frieda has been employed by Workforce Solutions for over 16 years.