BY PHILIP WOODWARD, DHHS OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS
In celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Department of Health and Human Services is highlighting five stories of personal accomplishment and success during the week of Oct. 21-25, 2013 that demonstrate how Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is making a difference in communities across North Carolina.
Meet Rikki Branch
Rikki Branch grew up in and out of the foster care system, battling depression and other issues that caused her to struggle in school. While participating in her high school’s Occupational Course of Study (OCS) program, she was referred to the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) for services.
Partnering with her Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) counselor, Rikki received counseling and guidance, job readiness training and job placement assistance. She participated in adjustment training at VR’s WorkSource West facility. She also worked in a VR-sponsored internship in custodial services with the Burke County School System during the summer between her junior and senior years. The skills, experience, and references Rikki gained through the work adjustment training allowed her to successfully apply for and obtain a job with the State of North Carolina. She has been employed as a housekeeper at the J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center since graduation from high school.
Rikki was equal to the task. With the help of VR, Rikki has overcome barriers to success in her life and now lives independently with her fiancée. She has developed the coping skills needed to gain control over her depression. She maintains an interest in helping others who face similar issues.
The Department of Health and Human Services is proud of Rikki’s hard work and personal determination. Her successful story demonstrates how VR is making a difference in North Carolina.