Keeping Cool in the Heat is Easy for Jonathan Sanchez

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Vocational Rehabilitation, an organization committed to helping people with disabilities find and keep a job, shares a success story in honor of Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month

Photo of Jonathan Sanchez in his workshop at the hotel.

Jonathan Sanchez in his workshop at the hotel.

At first I didn’t think I had a place but after going through the whole thing, it was a great experience and I’d definitely say go there [VR].

When Jonathan Sanchez first came to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) seven years ago, he did not come willingly. His mother brought him to find help. Jonathan was depressed, showing signs of antisocial behavior, and had a substance abuse problem. He didn’t want anything to do with VR.

“At first, it was against my will. I didn’t want to receive any type of help as most people in that state of mind would be,” Jonathan said, while recalling his first encounter with VR. “It was my mother; she pushed me as a mother does for a son, and we went in there and met Lila.”

Cirila (Lila) DeLeon is a VR counselor who has worked at the division for eight years. She guided and counseled Jonathan as he completed a substance abuse treatment program, received psychotherapy treatment, and became emotionally stable. “He was so depressed when he came to see me. He was insecure. After a year of treatment, Jonathan and I met to decide on his career goal.”

Lila and Jonathan reviewed several career options that were recommended based on his vocational assessment. “I told him about the air conditioner technician salary and employment availability,” Lila said. “He agreed to attend and complete this career track at Marchman Vocational School in New Port Richie.”

Jonathan was very pleased with Lila’s support and encouragement. “She was very helpful; she was a great guide. I was reluctant to open myself up to her or even receive any help, and she was able to crack through those barriers and help me out.”

While still in school, Jonathan was hired by an air conditioner company after blowing them away in his interview. “I was so excited for him; I went to his graduation from vocational school,” Lila said.

He currently works for the Hampton Inn in Orlando as their Chief Engineer, supervising two employees. Prior to taking this position, Jonathan held a similar position at the Comfort Inn. He says he got the job by being in the right place at the right time. “I went to Wet ‘n Wild with some friends. One of my friends’ friends was asking if they knew anyone with A/C certification and they pointed at me. Standing in line at Wet ‘n Wild was my interview, and then Monday, I started working. All I had to do was fill out the application.”

Francisco Ferreira, the assistant general manager at the Hampton Inn, is quite satisfied with Jonathan’s work performance. “He’s very punctual, reliable. The projects assigned are done to his best ability, which exceeds our expectations,” Francisco said. “He’s a great addition to our property.”

When Lila received a call from Jonathan five years after successfully closing his case, she was surprised to hear from him. “He informed me that he was working in Orlando. He thanked me again for helping him get where he is today. He made my day.”

Francisco said Jonathan’s disability has not affected how he works. “He’s got a bubbly personality that blends with everyone. He really completed the team,” he said. “Depending on what type of job openings there are, I’d consider hiring another person with a disability.”

Even though Jonathan was reluctant to take VR’s help, he’s glad he went. “At first I didn’t think I had a place but after going through the whole thing, it was a great experience and I’d definitely say go there.”

You can view Jonathan's video interview at

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. Our employer-focused website,, 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 89 offices across Florida, and last year helped 7,214 Floridians with significant disabilities find or keep a job. For more information about VR and its services, call (800) 451-4327 or visit

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Rachel Smith
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