Volume 3 Issue 4
Sandi is a seventeen year old with an Acquired Brain Injury from Encephalitis. Sandi has recovered a great deal, but still struggles with some processing. Sandi no longer has an IEP, and ranks high in her senior class, #3 in fact!! Prior to Sandi's IEP being discontinued, she had to have extra time for tests, assignments and standardized testing. During the times when she was ill, Sandi’s mother was a great advocate for her daughter. Despite Sandi’s progress, her Mother has struggled to move forward in similar fashion. She attended the ASPIRE Parent Training, and acknowledges she needs to let go, but feels it will take some time. This hasn’t stopped Sandi! She has utilized both school and ASPIRE to move forward toward independence. Sandi applied to five colleges and was accepted to all of them. Sandi was even accepted to the college she had always dreamed of attending - BYU Hawaii. Sandi was offered a partial scholarship to two of the five colleges and is now deciding which will be best for her. ASPIRE is now working with Sandi on getting a summer job so she can save money before she starts college in the Fall.
After additional time spent getting to know one another Debi suggested Joan and Jen check out what services Vocational Rehabilitation offered. The next week Debi received a call from Joan saying that VR informed her Jen did not qualify for services. This contradicted what Debi understood about ASPIRE youth being eligible for VR so she made some calls and confirmed that Jen was indeed eligible. Next, Debi personally stopped by the VR office, left more information about the ASPIRE project, and offered to do a presentation for their office.
Meanwhile, Jen was accepted into VR services and referred to a job agency. That job agency is being paid for by VR and is providing a paid job training experience for Jen in agricultural employment on a farm near Whitefish, Montana. This farm is one of several that provide a twelve-week work program, one day a week. If it is a positive experience for both employee and employer, the 12 weeks can be extended or Jen could go to another farm to work and learn more skills. Jen will learn to feed and groom animals, including horses, pigs, and sheep. Since it’s lambing season there she will be bottle feeding lambs. Jen will be learning a lot about farm work this summer!
Although Tony lives in a small town, there are abundant opportunities and resources available. Recently he and his mother met with Vocational Rehabilitation and Job Service to discuss the best option for finding summer employment. The most appropriate service to use is Job Service. Job Service will help to secure employment job at Tony’s preferred business, a local gas station/pizza place. They will meet with the business and support Tony’s wages.
In the past two months, Tony came to his first self-determination training. Other commitments or lack of interest prevented him from going in the past. In the fall, he and his family joined an ASPIRE bowling event held in their community.. In fact, Tony and his mother have also participated in financial education and capability training as well. Tony has made amazing strides this year!
It’s hard to believe that back when South Dakota ASPIRE started doing enrollments this young man was one of the first to sign up, October 2014. Lake was just 16 then. Now he’s 19 and has come a long way in that time. He would be the first to admit that there have been some ups and downs along the way. Even in speaking about those ups and downs Lake never loses his trademark humor and humble personality. He has participated in nearly every Self-Determination Class held in Rapid City. Just by being there, he always makes them fun. When Lake first came to ASPIRE he was struggling in High School despite his Mother’s strong advocacy for special education services. He decided to try Job Corp, started working on his GED and learning a trade. Once again his personality won over all of the staff but it proved to be too big of an adjustment for Lake to make and he moved on.
Lake and his family moved and he tried a different high school. He made some more progress on his GED, and his mother again advocated on his behalf, but the school and the town were not a good match for him. The family moved back to Rapid City, and he enrolled in the Career Learning Center. Since enrolling Lake has finished all but one test on his GED, and continues to work toward completion, setting his sights on the June graduation. He also enrolled in the Department of Labor WIOA Program. Through that program he has participated in a work experience at a computer maintenance business. With his knack for all things mechanical or technical, Lake was soon refurbishing computers for a donation program. Recently he got his driver’s license, and is getting to his classes and activities on his own. It has been a great pleasure seeing all of his successes, and an honor to know someone who can stay so positive even in times of adversity.
He then used all of this knowledge to start a non-profit organization, the Spice Kitchen Incubator, in collaboration with other refugees. This program assists refugees with self-sufficiency, independence, education and social events. They now use donations to deliver hygiene products to refugee families, assist with costs associated with dental care, and assist refugees in obtaining driver's licenses.
Participating in ASPIRE workshops has not only changed the life of this one family, but that of many refugees who have settled in Utah.
Pablo is originally from Nebraska and grew up in a small farming community, where there are currently about 6,960 residents. Pablo graduated with his Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice and will be starting his master program this fall at ASU. Prior to this position, Pablo worked for the Department of Homeland Security and provided case management to undocumented immigrants, and oversaw their immigration court process from beginning to end. During his free time, Pablo competes in obstacle course races, enjoys skiing during the winter and is an avid dog lover.
|April 15, 2017|
In This Issue:
It’s time to plan for summer jobs! Working in the summer is what teenagers do in the summer. It may not be the career they are dreaming of, but it does help them learn responsibility, social skills and some hard skills too! It’s a great time to try out jobs as well, through internships or extended volunteer opportunities. For some youth, they may find there are jobs they don’t want. That’s as important as finding what you want to do.
The ASPIRE staff are busy finding opportunities for summer employment. Staff are working with their local vocational rehabilitation and workforce agencies, local and state government and business networks. Thanks to our many partners who are making jobs available to ASPIRE youth, and working with them to learn about finding and keeping a job. Working together now has long term benefits for the youth and families.
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