Vocational Rehabilitation Helps People Go from Hopeless to Homeowner

In honor of May as Hearing Loss Awareness Month, the folks at Vocational Rehabilitation share the success story of Susan Bence.

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Photo of Susan Bence

Susan Bence shares her Vocational Rehabilitation success story.

I’m grateful for VR and the entire staff at Challenge Enterprises. It’s more than being able to earn a paycheck. It’s making someone feel useful and needed in society.

Jacksonville, FL (PRWEB) May 23, 2014

The first time Susan Bence heard her daughter cry and heard, once again, the birds singing outside, she knew she would never be able to thank Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) enough for all they had done for her.

Susan’s progressive hearing loss began 13 years ago. She was in the last year of working on her bachelor’s degree when her hearing loss became severe. “It made it very difficult in class,” she said. Soon, she was unable to work. “I was scared and unsure,” says Susan. “I needed hearing aids that I couldn’t financially afford.”

Facing a tough economy and crime in her neighborhood, Susan packed up her family and left Buffalo, New York for Jacksonville, Florida in hopes of finding better career opportunities. She eventually found a job at a grocery store unloading trucks for very little money, even working weekends. “I was very sad when I looked at my kids,” she said. “I couldn’t accurately provide for my children, and they deserved better.”

Feeling hopeless, and at one point, thinking it would be better to give her children away, Susan started doing research, and she discovered Vocational Rehabilitation, a federal-state program designed to help people with disabilities get or keep a job. For Susan, it was the answer she needed.

VR provided Susan with hearing aids and employability training that helped her land a job with Challenge Enterprises of North Florida. “Challenge Enterprises is a company of beautiful people who looked past my disability and saw my potential and gave me a job,” says Susan. She currently works at Mayport Naval Base as a Payroll Clerk and Administrative Assistant. “My job is incredible,” she says.

Her Program Manager, Charles F. Slocumb, Jr. was new to working with people who have disabilities a few years ago but has embraced it and them. “Many of his crew who load ships for the Navy have disabilities,” says Susan. “He is patient and kind. He truly makes us all enjoy our job.”

Jerry Proctor, VP of Business Development for Challenge Enterprises, is also proud of the work his company does in the community. “This year we celebrate our 42nd anniversary of the power of people and possibilities,” Jerry says. Of Challenge’s total workforce of 300 people, 81 percent are persons with a significant disability.

Susan enjoys her job and her new community. She’s now a homeowner, and her children are thriving. She had once angrily searched for answers from doctors, wanting to know why this had happened to her. She no longer needs those answers they were unable to give.

“Today, when I look at my kids, and my quality of life, I can’t help but smile,” she says. “I’m grateful for VR and the entire staff at Challenge Enterprises. It’s more than being able to earn a paycheck. It’s making someone feel useful and needed in society.”

Florida’s Vocational Rehabilitation program is committed to helping people with disabilities become part of America’s workforce. Our employer-focused website, FLJobConnections.com, allows businesses to search at no charge for employees who are ready to go to work, as well as to post available jobs. VR has 80 offices across Florida, and last year helped 6,523 Floridians with significant disabilities find or keep a job. For more information about VR and its services, call (800) 451-4327 or visit Rehabworks.org.

About Vocational Rehabilitation
Florida’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is a federal-state program committed to helping people with disabilities become part of America’s workforce. VR has 80 offices across Florida, and last year helped 6,523 Floridians with significant disabilities find or keep a job. For more information about VR and its services, call (800) 451-4327 or visit http://www.Rehabworks.org.