Roberto came to the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation (BVR) in 2010 in search of a job. At that time, he had recently completed a Bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science and was eager to put this knowledge to use in the working world. Roberto was made eligible for services based on a spinal cord injury. This injury made many tasks very difficult for Roberto. He had no use of his left hand and minimal use of his right. He used a power chair for mobility, but relied on family members for many activities of daily living. Roberto was seeking more than just a job, he was seeking independence.Although they too wanted Roberto to be independent, Roberto’s parents wanted to help him to find the right working environment where all of his needs could be met and he could be successful. They were sometimes hesitant about the idea of him going to a working environment alone, unsure of how his basic needs would be met and how he would do.
When Roberto came to BVR, he had never worked before. Despite his educational background, his many skills, including the fact that he is bilingual in English and Spanish, Roberto’s lack of work history made his job search very difficult. Many employers were hesitant to take a chance on someone without experience. For five long years Roberto worked with BVR to complete assessments for assistive technology and assessments in the community to try to help Roberto find the best job fit for him and his family.
Through the BVR program, Roberto was even able to complete a community-based assessment at Senator Harry Reid’s office which allowed him to further build his resume and work skills. This assessment provided Roberto the opportunity to enter the working world for the first time and to begin to interact with other professionals on a daily basis. Additionally, BVR provided Roberto with job readiness training, assistive technology training and equipment for employment, job development and guidance and counseling to help him in his journey to obtain employment.
Finally, after much patience and searching, an opportunity came along through a connection between an employer and Roberto’s BVR counselor. Today, Roberto is working for Best Buddies. He works part-time, which allows him to continue other volunteer activities and his physical therapy. His parents are welcomed to the office to help him with daily activities when needed. This makes both Roberto and his family more comfortable and allows Roberto to be more successful.
Roberto is an essential part of the Best Buddies team. He helps with research on assisting persons with disabilities in the workplace. Roberto’s research will be integrated into his office setting in the near future. He assists with job searches to help other consumers be successful in their employment goals. Roberto also attends team meetings and works as a team player to complete assignments. Roberto reports that this new job is very important to him because it is an environment he and his family feel comfortable with. He states that he feels he is not only gaining great experience, but independence that he will value for a lifetime. Roberto is a wonderful example of someone who did not just obtain a job, but a career path and a path to independence.