Alaska and Her Rehabilitation Plan…Patience Beyond that of a “Normal” Cat Owner!

Okay, another cat blog! Yes, I’m a cat lover and I love all pets and care for all living creatures! I’m not a cat fanatic, it’s just that felines have always been a part of my life and I love it! I love to write too. I love my work. I love my family. I love my life! I love a lot actually! Amy means beloved….so it’s reciprocated in many ways : ) Read on! I’d love it!

Cat Plate
Cat Plate

Little did we know that 3 months after Max my manx was murdered in early 2002 by something in the street, (I don’t love creatures who kill pets and on the other hand I don’t like it at all when my pets kill creatures), a tiny meow would emit from our neighbor’s garden. Oh my, this long haired kitten was awesome! Felix! Welcome! (Okay, this blog is not about Felix today!)

Max, (nope this blog not about you either, meooowww) a dearly beloved yet wild cat, found me ~1987 when I was renting the basement of a brick home in Windsor Heights (it had a pool in the back yard.) Speaking of cat claws!…A word of advice from a long timer cat owner, (counselors shouldn’t give advice, but in this case, listen to me!): Don’t think it’d be fun to give a cat a ride on an air mattress in a pool. Trust me. Sure looked like I had open heart surgery!

kitten-3Now, here’s a blog devoted to Alaska. She’s the cat who strutted on down the street one Spring evening in 2012 (following my son Jacob and his friend Josh) directly into the house and to a bowl full of cat food. Score!

I recall saying “Wow I’ve always wanted a white cat!” She’s all white with beautiful eyes (I love the green one; no, I love the blue one!). Oh dear, upon her arrive she was a very thin stray! And oh dear, oh my, oh dear, I would have no idea what trouble she would end up causing over the next year or two (…..) you really don’t want to know…..it involved lots of $$$$ over time (furnishings….another word of advice regarding leather furniture and cat claws). More costs $$$ credited to this white cat was the vet bills due to her actions toward the existing female feline (my love of all cat loves SamiJo.)

The cat looked like a kitten, however the excellent vet (Dr. Michael Forret) said she was about 7 months old when she decided to ditch being a stray and chose a home. She was hungry and dirty! Even her ears where filthy. Jacob named her and she has a middle name too, but I don’t think I should let you on to that just yet!

Alaska Our Putty TattyI rehabilitated Alaska TF into one big healthy white cat!

Part of Alaska’s rehabilitation included a lot of touching. She didn’t like being touched much, probably because she had not experienced much touch. She still to this day has to be touched only upon her terms….but I like to make her think she loves being petted which she really does but tries to hide it (cats).

kitten-in-toteAJ & AK bonding!

ArinJune figured out a way to carry her around in a tote bag (and to this day I often find her lounging in one of these she found!) to feel safe. With ongoing rehab,  regular vet care, good food and water, and lots and lots of love and attention, she thrives! Treats are nice too!

AK is much calmer of late into her more mature cat years. She loves the freedom to do what felines do (….sleep…and read above [hunt]…). She continues to be “a wild one” however and she herself does her share of “killing and delivering….” But, how can I stop a cat from that? Her hunting is actually of value to where we live because of an unkept property or two in the hood. But the dismembered gifts by the back door, come on! Enough. I have purchased her a new collar with a loud bell that will hopefully help plus she only goes outside about once or twice a day.

2012-09-23 13.29.36

Alaska helping me on a case!

Good communication and problem-solving skills are required in order to counsel others. I truly in my role as a rehab counselor, want to be empathetic and I want to reveal my desire to help people fulfill their goals. Counselors need good listening skills, compassion, and patience while working with individuals who have suffered serious injury and disability.

2012-09-23-13-29-43

She found this case interesting and pauses to reflect!

I know I have patience beyond that of a normal cat owner! Thank you my felines for teaching me how to listen and show my true self.

If I can help you help your client with a life care plan that includes vocational rehabilitation, please let me know!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

It Was 36 Years Ago…and I Made It Through

On June 15, 1979 I was in a car accident…..and I made it through. Just a remember to myself how important rehabilitation following an injury really is. And a shout out to you my readers to realize rehabilitation is so important for so many people for so many reasons. Thank all rehabilitation counselors!

Read more about it (my accident) here How did I Get into Rehab Counseling? Here’s a Little Story  posted November 21, 2011.

What makes my story even more special to me is that I “ran” into the woman who saved my life last Saturday (June 6, 2015) at the Iowa Falls Boat Club for a memorial service. I was sitting across from her at a banquet table with my sister and two other people. After chatting with the two, I asked the woman directly across the table what her name was. (Silly me.) She knew who I was and after it dawned on me (because my sister told me) I just stopped, thanked God, thanked her, and asked her if I could give her a hug! Which I did.

2015-06-06 14.34.18Thank You Teri

Upon considering all that happened that day, I was 15 and she would’ve only been about 17 or 18. Yet she literally saved my life! She came upon the scene that night and stayed with me until the ambulance arrived, even riding in the ambulance until we arrived at the hospital in town. She didn’t leave me until I was transported to another hospital out of town. From what I hear the medical staff and others involved thought she was a nurse!

Green Gran TorinoI used to despise Gran Torinos…especially green ones, until Randy pointed out the bulk of the front end of the vehicle was another huge part in saving my life.

Oh, and when I was at the Boat Club (learned more of the history of the place), and went on a boat ride on the Scenic City Empress, I took some good shots.

Here’s one of Arthur, our neighbor in Iowa Falls skiing many moons ago.

Arthur Skiing
Arthur Skiing

 

And here’s one of a chair made out of old skis. Pretty cool, huh! 2015-06-06 17.37.14

 

 

The waterfall, (shh, it’s man made)! Janice is the blonde with her hand over her face.

2015-06-06 Waterfall Iowa River

The point of my blog is that life really brings surprises, talent and beauty. Live it to it’s fullest and you won’t be disappointed. Each and every day is a new beginning. I know what it’s like to almost lose your life.

Use What You Got! If you click here you’ll read a 2011 article about me from the Des Moines Register (and see another picture of the Iowa River.)

Okay, in closing, I’ve got to add a bit more. Yesterday, Randy and I and Bella were out and about, and on the way home were traveling in my car on Broadway. We turned around when we saw the crossing gates lowering and the red signal lights start to flash. But just a couple seconds or so after, they stopped, so we turned around again to prepare to cross the railroad tracks. But the crossing gates and red lights began again. Seeing no train, huh? But we stopped and waited for the gates to raise (some fool of a driver drove around us and around the gates over the multiple crossings.) It was quite apparent the gates were malfunctioning. Ever 60 seconds or so. So I did my civic duty and noticing the UP’s sign, called the 800 number and reported the issue to a nice railroad worker out of Omaha. I don’t know, but I’m thinking this has some irony to it…maybe a closure of sorts for me. I do not care for railroad tracks when there’s a training approaching…..gives me the chills. But I did my part to help.

So, in closing of this blog, I stray from my loving attitude and will end this post as such:

Rock Island Flip Off

You can find this train car in Hampton, Iowa and flip it off if you’d like…for me!

(BTW, my lawsuit against Rock Island Railroad was a failure……perhaps we chose the wrong attorney, perhaps the timing was bad as the railroad went bankrupt, perhaps we should’ve settled, or perhaps the jury simply wasn’t given or didn’t understand all the information….there were no cross bucks….the train had parked for the night until the conductor or whoever realized the few box cars [no caboose back then either] were covering the tracks….that’s why the train moved, dragging that green car with me implanted on one of the bolts of the box car…..)

Let me know how I can help with your cases. (I actually worked on many workers’ compensation railroad cases in the earlier years of my career.) I will do all I can to help you represent your client.

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

A Success Story About A Veteran I Was Proud To Help

Following through with my last post on honesty, here’s the success story I mentioned:

During the placement process, I assess the client on his or her take of honesty at work using interview techniques, a self-report scale, and ensuing discussion. I’ve heard great stories.  I remember one client, a veteran I helped ~10 years ago when I had a contract to provide vocational services to VA Voc Rehab. The veteran (served in Nam) wanted a more suited job using his many transferable skills.

One day, while he was at work cleaning the men’s restroom at the I35 rest area near Osceola, the veteran found a wallet filled with cash. He called his supervisor who drove to the rest areas to retrieve the wallet, and it was returned to it’s owner.

Lost Wallet, Honest Worker

What makes this story even more honest is the veteran was being paid ~$6.00 an hour to clean the rest area (all areas and facilities inside and outside). The wallet he found was filled with enough money to have paid his wages for nearly 2½ weeks of work (cleaning disgusting toilets, working out in the cold, being treated like poopy by people who just want to get in and get out…) And he returned it all. All.

References are Golden Nuggets!

To help with placement to a better job for the veteran, the supervisor, following my request and with my help wrote a superb reference letter. The letter helped with the success of this veteran securing his new job. He was hired at Homemakers Furniture where he made use of his transferable skills (one was leather upholstery) and excellent work references along with the help of the VA’s hiring incentive program.  Nice work! I love this success story!

Back to me for a bit. A story of mine about honesty ranks up there too and simply put, that’s what a morally and ethically sound person does! I’ve returned found cell phones, various personal items, coats, neighbor’s mail, and money. Yes, money, in fact thousands of dollars.

Find cash on the sidewalk down the street! Get shortchanged? Too much change? Overpaid? Underpaid? What do you do?! A money dilemma!

Okay, here’s why I’ve literally returned thousands of dollars. As an independent contractor I more often than should happen experience  a long, long wait to get paid for my work. Not fun and not fair.  In fact, not that long ago I waited months to get paid, and then I received three checks in three separate envelopes for one invoice. Of course I returned the duplicate checks!

check

It literally added up to over $6,000!

Since 1999 when I started my business, I’ve been overpaid probably about six times. I couldn’t tell you why, but I return the checks…and pay postage doing so. And since 1999 I’ve been NOT paid once. I still remember it. It was for my hard work performed on a complex case. My final invoice totaled ~$500 and for some horrible reason the insurance company didn’t pay me. Ironic the [workers’ comp] case ended up being a NON permanent total disability. Needless to say, I won’t accept assignments from that representative any longer. Okay, I’ll stop…but could write a lot about unethical people!

I’ve written papers on my work and ethics. Please visit my LinkedIn Page to read the papers or call me at 515-282-7753 and I’ll send you copies.

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

10 years Flew By, Do You Remember Anything from Fall 2004!?  

I do! I remember the Fall season 2004 when I was winding down my role as a Drake University student! Specifically, I remember the DAY I was taking the CRC exam. It was October 30, 2004 (do you remember what you did October 30, 2014?!).

Index cards

Boy did I study in Fall of 2004!

And that being the year 2004, the test was taken in the paper/pencil format. I remember sitting in an auditorium on Drake’s campus, feeling kinda nervous, while also feeling confident that I would pass this test!

And I did! Which earned me the coveted CRC (Certified Rehabilitation Counselor) designation in my field. Of course, I didn’t know for sure if I passed and had to painstakingly await the results…..

PaperandPencil Test

Computerized Now

Back then, the CRC test was paper administered using pencils (lots of em #2 with sharp points and good erasers…which could be hard to come by for me during those days as all the other members of my household were also in need of the good ones for edumacation reasons!)

Here’s a link to my November 7, 2011 post where you can go for more information on me and on the field of rehabilitation counseling and when I first wrote (plus a few edits and a great picture of a bulldog named Fat Amy) about passing the test! Since 2004, I’ve had to complete enough CEUS (for the Rehab Counseling certification every five years ~ it’s 100 hours including 10 of ethics) twice.

Anyway, the remainder of this post is written in pre-post fashion, which I don’t typically do! My reason is being out of town on a weekend!  For a family get together in Creston, Iowa hosted by Marjo Brown, Randy’s aunt who  recently moved from a house to an apartment; and her sister Sherry Rodrigues who is in town from Hawaii (Ooooooooh). And, then on to Kansas City for the Chiefs versus Jets game Sunday (Oooooh).

Here’s a link to my December 8, 2012 post where I highlight the skills of a professional football player. In that post I also talk about how much football players  earn and some of their common injuries, as well as one of my fantasies!

I am, of course, a Chiefs fan, but I also like the Jets, although I remain conflicted on my feelings for their QB, who is expected to start…..  The Chiefs are doing very well, and the Jets, well, not so well. Go Chiefs! Go Jets. I’m taking a variety of sports clothing in case I change my mind during the game who I really want to win!

KC ChiefsChiefs V Jets

Jets

Sunday November 2, 2014!

 

I may add exciting details later about my weekend!

Because of my eventful weekend plans, I wasn’t able to attend the National Rehabilitation Association’s annual meeting also being held, and hosted in our beautiful downtown Des Moines.  I am proud Ellen Sokolowski, the current president of NRA, is a fellow Iowan (and Drake University graduate to boot!)  I hope the conference was great and I hope to get some detail on what I missed.

As always, I serve as a resource to persons with disabilities and if there is a lawsuit involved, I answer questions involving matters of employment in both plaintiff and defense litigation.

Contact me about how I can help you! But if you ask me about how to play football, I’d have to refer you to Randy, the star of the Saydel football team in the Fall season of 1980 or so!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

Congratulations to my Beautiful Daughter….She Starts a New Job Today!

As I mentioned in last week’s post, Arin was in interviewing mode. She found success! Today she starts her training at the Des Moines Public Library. My daughter, a librarian aide! I love it. She is so excited! It’s a part-time position, which the library does for all aides, that pays pretty good! She will continue at Walgreen’s as well, so will be working plenty of hours. Do you remember what job(s) you had at age 18? Click here for my earlier work history.

AJ the L

Arin the Aide To the Rescue!

I have blogged about Arin in the past and my grandma’s love for reading. Reading helps in lots of ways; one being that your vocabulary will become larger and more sophisticated. I remember one of my professors at Drake University (Dr. Bob Stensrud!) said something along the lines that a strong vocabulary is a sign of high intelligence. I’m sure there’s plenty of variances on that statement from people much smarter than me, but I agree that intelligence drives the need to acquire the vocabulary in the first place.

On Saturday, Randy and I took a road trip. When we realized from listening on the radio that the Cyclones just might win, we decided we needed to watch the second half! We found a nice place in Oxford, Iowa and stopped on in. There were some buddies hanging out at the bar and one was kinda making me sick. He was a “chain swearer”. You’ve heard one. F this and F that in almost every sentence. And when watching college football on a big screen tv, you can imagine what I heard. Yuck!  I will admit I heard myself say “Poopy” over and over towards the end of the ISU game….

I thought hummmm is my theory that people who swear excessively have low vocabulary levels and corresponding low intelligence? I don’t know, but there are studies out there I’m sure. I do pay attention when interviewing evaluees about their use of profanity and will report on it (while also offering counseling “advice”) as it certainly affects one’s view of professionalism in the workplace.

Profanity BoyPeople Swear, and Unfortunately I Am One of Em

But I don’t want to and I do notice it when I swear and chastise myself! And I try to stop hubby too. And Arin. And Jake. And Nick….and on and on! When my mom swears (not often) I sure take note! Woah!

I cringe when I hear a person swear in professional environments (and on the playing field…and  especially in front of children). I certainly hope Arin doesn’t let a big “F-bomb” out when she is at work at the DMPL (frown upon for sure!) She won’t! [I’m making her read this post…]

Back to the point of this blog and successful interviewing. The keys to a successful interview are preparation and practice. Let me know how I could help and download this tip sheet titled on Interviewing.

P.S. Don’t swear during an interview! Use the best communication skills you have!

P.S.S. My grandma Jean’s favorite “bad” word was “Horrors!”

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

Preparing to Graduate…Again!

Just an update to let my readers know I am nearly done with my most recent learning adventure through George Washington University….that lasted well over a year! I certainly learned a lot about forensics rehabilitation consulting, and really appreciate my cohort comprised of really smart rehabilitation counselors across the country!

There are students from the great states of Iowa (me!), Texas, Ohio, Washington, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, the District of Columbia, and who am I missing? Kansas?!

 

BeautifulOur Beautiful Country is so Colorful!

I’ve been in all our states but Washington, Hawaii and Alaska. This was traveling done mostly as a youngster, in the back of a station wagon with the entire family (oh, the memories!).

Back to the current times Amy….! During the forensic rehabilitation coursework, I placed heavy emphasis on the study of ethics. Because I feel comfortable with my own ethics, in turn I feel comfortable with forming my own opinions (and expert ones at that!)

One ethics paper I prepared in October, 2013 for the course Foundations of Forensics Rehabilitation Counseling II (COUN 6396) emphasized Ethics, Values and Character Surrounding My Career in Private Practice.

In another ethics paper I submitted in Spring 2014 for the course Law and the Rehabilitation Counseling II (COUN 6396), I analyzed Ethics and Vocational Reports. Specifically, I critiqued a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and his USE OF TESTING INSTRUMENTS in VOCATIONAL EVALUATIONS.

Along with submitting my paper to GWU, I also submitted it to a professor from the great State of Washington who teaches ASSESSMENTS to master’s level rehabilitation counseling students. I received powerful feedback from her.

 Knowledge

I am happy to share what I’ve learned and how it can be best applied to meet your litigation needs. My papers are available, just ask and I’ll see if you really want to read all about it! Call me at 515-282-7753 or email vocresources@gmail.com.   Or easier yet, connect with me on LinkedIn. I’ve posted them there!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

Never Underestimate the Power of Volunteering!

I want to reflect upon my volunteering experience … and engage you in thinking of your own. Does volunteering pique a developing interest? What specifically do you, or have you done to volunteer? Did the time fly when you were engaging in the experience? What were you responsible for in the role?

Even if it’s low key, your contribution and what you gain from any volunteering experience is of value.

Job Placement Network

For three years, back in 2006 – 2008, I chaired the Job Placement Network group. So, my interest was (and remains so) networking! My role to serve as the leader of this diverse group of community service providers offered me the opportunity to expand upon my existing skill set.

I tasked myself to administrate to the non-profit’s mission, organize meetings, market to employers, design and deliver materials and resources, recruit members, communicate ideas and detailed information, and most importantly network, network, network! And have fun!

Your network can grow as much as your mind can think. And there is no limit to your thoughts!

Currently, the networking group has not been engaged, although I’m sure hopeful in the future with new leadership, JPN can really make a splash in the future of our community!

Here’s a quick slide show about JPN designed in 2008.

If you are interested, (how about you, you wonderful Drake student?) please contact me for more information.

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

 

 

 

Whistle While You Work…or Grunt and Groan!

It really does help to make noise while you’re working. I often work in complete silence. But when I whistle or listen to music, it does seem as though the work goes more smoothly. I have no idea why. I guess the Dwarfs did.

Maybe the sound helps distract the mind from trying too hard and prevents mental overload.

As I’ve written about in the past, mom and dad raised 5 kids. Us children are all only 13-15 months apart. Think about how much hard work Ann & Dick had in order to get us all out of the nest!

Here’s a great little YouTube Video of what it may have been like from the 5 babies viewpoint! The momma bird is hard at work and the song Whistle While Your Work is playing to help her!

Thanks for feeding us! 

 I completed my second week of boot camp (six more weeks to go …) and will say Linda Ross, our trainer is an excellent coach and instructor. She encourages us to do our best and to MAKE A LOT of NOISE when we exercise.

 It helps when you grunt and groan while you work out!

As I continue my journey in life, I find how important it is to work hard at whatever is at hand. Life isn’t easy. Whether it is mentally or physically, there is always more to learn and to improve upon. So, make noise! Be alive! Whistle, grunt and groan at work!

Don’t wish it were easier. Wish you were better.”
― Jim Rohn

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce.

My Grandma Jean ~ Loved to Read

Did you know women are nearly half of our Nation’s workforce and more than half of our college graduates? My Grandma was a college graduate! 

I have fond memories of G’ma. She definitely was not boring! Jean lived in a condo, loved to golf and drove a flashy red Corvair! She enjoyed going on cruises too.

The color and model of Jean’s car matched her hair and her fingernails!

Jean enjoyed spending time vacationing at her and Grandpa’s timeshare condo in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, soaking up the sun and feeding seagulls bacon. Yes, they’d swoop down and pluck the bacon from her fingers.

Hey, there she is again!

G’ma has a bachelor degree When she met her future husband Jack , they were both attending Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.  That is  unusual for a young woman in those days (like the 30s.)

Willie the Wildcat ca 1960 (the mascot of Northwestern)

In later life, G’ma Jean became legally blind. That did not stop her from reading. She constantly absorbed information and being visually handicapped allowed her to do things differently….and with a flair as usual!

My sister Julie brought over this article published  September 7, 1978 in a local Northbrook, Illnois newspaper.

Jean Dodge 2nd sight

Taped books offer 2nd sight

 Here’s excerpts from the article ~

Like many avid readers, Jean P Dodge reads 3 or 4 books a week. Unlike most other readers, she reads with her ears. Mrs. Dodge awoke last Easter to find her vision gone, destroyed by an un-diagnosed illness. That still mystifies doctors. She is one of the few local person who make use of free special library services for the visually and physically handicapped.

The services include Braille and large type (twice the normal size) books, along with phonograph and cassette tape recordings of dramatic readings of books (Talking Books). All these services are available through the Northbrook Public Library 1201 Cedar Ln as well as most other Northshore libraries.

The Black Path, Saffron Skies

Mrs. Dodge, a self-described former “avid” reader of paperback fiction, said Talking Books serves as a psychological link to the life the 64-year Northbrooker enjoyed before developing impaired vision.

“I’ve been reading for about 60 years, so it (losing most of her vision) made quite a hole in my life. I read constantly. It was one of the greatest sources of my amusement. Talking Books made all the difference in the world to me. I feel so much more normal. It has made such a tremendous difference in life as far as getting back to where I used to do,” she said.

Mrs. Dodge learned about Talking Books from a daughter in law employed at Deerfield Public Library that also supplies the service admitted that without her new verbal world of reading “I would probably go nuts.”

“I would be a very bored and unhappy person. Radio and television would be my only options to pass the time. I can’t be in my car running around anymore,  so I have a lot of spare times. This fills the breach.” ~ the entire article was written by Richard Sheehan.

And so, Grandma. Thank you for continuing to do what you loved! And loving all of us as well. She helped shape my history!

Visit www.WomensHistoryMonth.gov to learn more about the generations of women who have shaped our history.

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce.

 

350 days of leave! Work Ethic…..Brag About It!

Okay, my last post for now on Randy (five consecutive Mondays is a bit excessive…)  Randy  is into his 20th year teaching for the Des Moines Public School District. He thinks he has around 350 days of sick leave accrued. He says you can only bank 250. I don’t know what that means…but I do know that’s a lot of days. I can’t recall when he’s ever called in sick (I have made him take a personal day……is that ethical Amy?)  Oops sorry.

Welcome Back

 

This is really not Randy, but he does wear just as goofy ties.

Here is an exercise that you can do to help you describe your work ethic in an interview. Trust me, it will help you shine during the interview! You may want to wear a shirt like this to your interview! (That’s a joke.)

Work Ethic Tshirt

This is not Randy either, but I could superimpose a head…naw

Back in July 2012, I blogged about how to answer interview questions using a great approach ~ the STAR method. It really is helpful to be thorough when coming up with answers. 

Rehearse your answers out loud. Practice saying them over and over and over. You’ll be more comfortable during the actual interview experience. Good luck!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce