BY PHILIP WOODWARD
In celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Department of Health and Human Services is highlighting five stories of personal accomplishment and success during October 2013 that demonstrate how Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is making a difference in communities across North Carolina.
Meet Brandon Johnson
Nineteen-year-old Brandon Johnson, a Fayetteville resident and 2013 graduate of E.E. Smith High School, has been diagnosed with high myopia, an eye condition that causes nearsightedness and can lead to other vision problems. He also has a developmental delay.
In high school, Brandon enrolled in E.E. Smith’s Occupational Course of Study (OCS) program and received services from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services transition program, which is administered by the Division of Services for the Blind (DSB).
Beginning his freshman year, Brandon’s DSB counselor and community employment specialist met with him and his mother to discuss Brandon’s long-term employment goals. Through the OCS program, Brandon completed several work experiences, which allowed him to gain valuable skills that have transferred over into competitive employment.
In May 2013, DSB developed a relationship with the local Dunkin’ Donuts establishment and arranged a work experience with stipend opportunity for Brandon. During his first three weeks, DSB’s transition program provided Brandon with job coaching. Some of Brandon’s job duties included emptying the trash cans throughout the store, taking trash and boxes to the dumpster, washing dishes, maintaining the cleanliness of the store, folding coffee boxes, making bags for coffee supplies, and restocking the condiment area at the front of the store.
Brandon applied himself during his DSB work experience, receiving accolades from the store’s managers. They shared with DSB’s transition staff about how impressed they were with Brandon’s work ethic and his friendly demeanor with staff and customers. They believed that their business could benefit from hiring Brandon as an employee. They discussed the Work Opportunity Tax Credit with DSB’s transition program. They hired Brandon with a start date of July 15th, 2013. Since becoming employed, Brandon has learned how to make coffee and has requested to learn how to make doughnuts.