Man With a Disability Learns the Beauty of Employment

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In honor of fresh starts that come with a new year, Vocational Rehabilitation shares the story of a man with a disability who found a job that’s perfectly suited for him.

Lazaro at work

“I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon.”

Lazaro Chaviano, who has a disability, cleans and stocks shelves at CosmoProf, a beauty supply company. “I like everything about my job,” Lazarro says. “I really like the responsibility of someone depending on me. I like working on tasks and going to work and having that be a part of my day.”

It was a long journey to find the perfect job, but Lazaro never gave up. In high school, Lazaro heard about Project SEARCH, a unique program designed to help students with intellectual disabilities successfully transition from high school to the workforce, and the rest is history.

Throughout their senior year, students enrolled in Project SEARCH participate in different internships, gaining real-world work experience. This program is funded through Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), a federal-state agency that helps people with disabilities get or keep a job. Lazaro’s VR Counselor, Irma Fiallo, knew Lazaro would benefit from the program, and signed him up.

During his time with Project SEARCH, Lazaro interned for the City of Miami, where he worked in the finance department, fire department, and general services administration. When he graduated from the program, he began looking for a job. He met with Job Coach Tessie Gonzalez, with Best Buddies, for guidance along the way.

Lazaro is from Cuba, and his first language is Spanish, so he needed to find a job where the management could understand him. Tessie explains, “For a year we were looking for jobs. He tried another job, but it wasn’t the right place for him because they didn’t speak Spanish. We thought CosmoProf was a good fit for him because there was no language barrier. Also, the manager is Cuban, and that’s where he fit.”

When Lazaro isn’t working, he likes watching soccer and listening to music. He is also happy he can give some of his wages to his parents. “It gives me pride to be able to help my parents,” he says. “I like being able to contribute to them.”

Tessie is proud of everything he has accomplished. “Lazaro is unafraid and brave, and he is always ready and willing,” she says. “I have never heard him complain, and he is always giving his 100% effort. He appreciates everything he has, and he is very kind to everyone he meets.”

Working at CosmoProf is just the job Lazaro was hoping for. “I like being a part of the team,” he says. “I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon.” Project SEARCH is what helped equip him for the opportunity. “The program is what helped him prepare for the job,” Tessie says. “We are all just so happy the partnership worked out seamlessly.”

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. The 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 90 offices across Florida, and last year helped 5,760 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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Florida Vocational Rehabilitation
since: 11/2012
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