The STAR Center is preparing for change. The grant that has funded our Employment Services division is moving to fee-for-service. This is a big change for our staff. No longer do we simply receive referrals from the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation to help individuals with disabilities to return to the workforce, now we must work towards developing new revenue streams and preparing to build in new ways, and serving VR clients as efficiently as possible.
Tommie Brown, one of our top-notch employment specialists, sent me this journal entry, from about 7 years ago, that she wrote after helping one of our vision-impaired clients move seven hundred miles away to a new job.
It Takes a Village
Variables are all the little missteps that take a person from success to failure, or hopefully from failure to success. I am a pragmatist, I like all of my ducks in a row, and I am not fond of the unknown. God instructs us to walk by faith and not by sight. Faith in His sovereignty, “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away.” I have received a lot of comfort in His sovereignty, knowing God is in control, not happenstance, a random person, the world, or Satan.
As we toured Winston Salem Industries for the Blind (IFB Solutions), it hit me how those who are blind must choose Daily to walk by faith.
Sixteen-plus years ago, I started praying the prayer of Jabez, asking, “That God would bless me indeed and enlarge my territory.” I had no idea at the time where God would take me, but I was sure I wanted more from life. When Ray Holder, asked me if I would like to interview for a position at the STAR Center as a job placement specialist, I did not know how much my territory was about to expand, and how often this pragmatist would be required to step into the unknown.
This past week, two of my co-workers and I, helped a client move seven hundred miles for her first job. What made this a little different than your average move is the fact she is blind, she can see some colors if they have enough intensity, but little else. I have watched this young lady dogmatically pursue something larger than what her small town has to offer.
And now, pragmatist, that I am, is fearfully traveling home, knowing that all of the ducks are not in a row. There is still so much that needs to be put in place. An O&M trainer to help her learn to travel not only the workplace and community but also her apartment. Simple things we take for granted, like being able to tell what the oven is set on.
This has been a, “it takes a village” experience. IFB Solutions is an exceptional facility, they have opened doors for those who have a visional challenge, enabling them to live fuller lives. Through most of the tour, it was impossible to determine who had vision and who didn’t. Everyone was working and meeting expectations. Independence, confidence, purpose, and exuberance for life fill this facility. They could have easily said this is an opportunity for those who live in North Carolina, but they have opened their doors to people who live throughout the nation.
Vocational Rehabilitation, has supported this client with funding for technology, schooling, transportation, orientation and mobility training (O&M) …. the list is endless, they even helped with the cost of this move.
The STAR Center has provided evaluations, technology, job readiness, O&M training, and job placement. The management staff at STAR allows the employees to do what is best for the client.
Last but defiantly not least the employment department at the STAR Center, Ray Holder, supports his staff to step out of the box. Who also took care of a lot of little details that saved time; flipping a switch in the breaker box and magically the client’s apartment has hot water, the TV isn’t broken, you just need to flip the light switch for the electrical socket to work. He assembled furniture, ran errands and so much more. Nicole bartered, (and I do mean bartered) with every salesperson to ensure the client received the best prices possible, she did individual packages with the groceries and organized the freezer and cabinets so the client would know what food is where, and again, so much more. They both worked tirelessly from 6 am till midnight. We had midnight meals, worn out, the client and us working side by side to achieve a common goal. The team effort made this a good, safe experience for the client.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know this placement is already a success. I hope it becomes that number we strive for, a successful closure, but my motive is twofold. I want my client to be like the individuals we met at IFB Solutions. My hope, my prayer, is that the next time I see her, she will have a new confidence, and be enjoying her independence. That she will laughingly tell us of all her new adventures, and that this was just the bottom rung of a wonderful future.
“And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.’ So, God granted him what he requested.”
1 Chronicles 4:10
I loved reading her journal entry. It speaks of who we are here at the STAR Center. Our team goes above and beyond “help any person, with any disability, to reach their potential.”
I asked Tommie how this client is doing today. This young woman is still in Winston Salem, working, and living life. She is now engaged to be married. She is planning on going on a mission trip with her church. Tommie, I would say that this was a successful placement, indeed! God has blessed this client and her faith, as he has Tommie.
Even as our funding changes, our efforts to help our clients will remain faithful and true. God is blessing the STAR Center Inc. and He is enlarging our territory. I believe this. You see, even as things change, our mission stays the same.
Jennifer Graves, President