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

Des Moines, I am Proud to Be a Resident!

As a rehabber, it’s my natural tendency to want to change things to function better or differently than from before! And yes, my focus is rehabbing people, but you could ask anyone around me and know that I also rehab plants, animals and just about anything else that engages my rehabber tendencies! My motto is “use what you got!”

I love to see improvements within people and within existing places. I get a thrill from seeing enhancements, more functioning, more beauty and more lovely spaces and places to go! Simply put: a higher quality of life is good for all.

I’ve been a DesMoinesian since the mid-1980s. I’ve seen our town improve greatly! Last week I attended an event at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. While touring the outdoor area….I kept on repeating “wow” over and over.  Very cool.  The pathways above the water and to the to be completed waterfall are  spectacular!

2014-10-04 17.50.14

I’m happy the rainbow sculpture didn’t go far! 

I’ve always had a fascination with along the rivers and the Capitol area…and downtown too!! Luckily, I often see this beautiful building ~

Capitol Building picture

Built 1871-1886

Des Moines is getting really cool….which is incredible considering our town was stalled for awhile. I’m proud to be a resident of Des Moines, Iowa. And I’m excited to be a part of where we all are going! This City is Cool! I’m looking forward to what will be yet to come with the new Cowles Commons, formerly Nollen Plaza.

“Crusoe Umbrella” It was also a good beer holder!

My brother Steven and I loved going to Seniom Sed in the 80s. I’m also quite fond of Gray’s Lake and recall how it was so many years ago, pretty hidden and not nearly as impressive as it is now. My brother loved to play hacky sack with his buddies in the grassy area near the the north entrance.

Gray's Lake Bridge

Steven’s plaque is on the southeast end of the bridge

Hacky Sack Anyone

In Memory of Steven J Prochnow

Hacky Sack Any1?

Des Moines is rehabbing our downtown (East Village! Good Gravy! Nice!) in an incredibly tasteful fashion, in my opinion! Our old buildings are turned into new beauties. We are seeing lofts going up in warehouses, the new YMCA…and what will be of the Younkers building? I used to work there as a clerical temp in the marketing department in the 80s!

Have you been inside Central Campus, the DMPS building which is still getting rehabbed? (Where my husband has worked and will be relocating to early next year.) Oh, and did I mention the downtown library (all libraries have seen great improvements) and the sculpture garden? I could go on and on you know!

This is a blog I can always add to! Des Moines ~ I love this town!  Please add your input on your thoughts of our town.

Oh BTW, tomorrow is garbage day……keep your home, yard and community beautiful!

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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

Alison is a Nice Name ~ Advanced Learning Interactive Systems Online

Alison stands for Advanced Learning Interactive Systems Online. Alison is an online open source educational website that provides over 500 high-quality, certified, multimedia courses, free to individual learners and groups of learners.

Free Online Courses

Open source learning is exciting!

Alison helps the user to develop essential workplace skills. There is a plethora of choices. You can chose from courses in Business & Enterprise Skills, Finance & Economy Skills, Languages, Digital & IT Skills, Personal Development & Soft Skills, School Curriculum and Diploma Courses. These courses are standards-based and certified. It can be somewhat overwhelming to go through the site to find what you are interested in taking.

You can earn a certificate or a diploma, which indicates the learner completed courses and scored 80 percent or above on the online assessment. There are vocational courses at “certificate level” (1 to 2 hours of study) or “diploma level” (about 9 to 11 hours of study).

Most of the courses are in a PowerPoint style presentation, though a few are audio or video intensive.  The courses appear to parallel job training and certifications I’m aware of throughout the course of my career and by various online resources.

I have used the website to take a diploma course in Legal Studies earlier last year. However, I chose not to become certified because it costs money to print out a certificate. If I were wanting to enhance my skill set for a law office, I would think the attorneys and staff would be grateful of this new knowledge. But I do not work in a law office!

This website would be good for people whose job prospects are constrained by their skill levels and who lack the resources to upgrade them through conventional training. I recommend this website to my placement clients, especially those who may have been out of work for a period of time. I explain that certifying in an area that they are interested in can reveal to a potential employer that you as a job seeker took a learning course on your own accord. This reveals you are a worker who wants to learn something new that would benefit others in the workplace.

It shows you, the job seeker, engaged your brain! You are ready to use your new skills at work. Plus you can list your learning accomplishment on your resume and application! And talk about what you learned in your job interview! Sounds good doesn’t it!

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

Wakin Up Without the Rooster!

I’ve broken a personal record. I finished four weeks of exercise boot camp. But that’s not the record…drum roll sound please…The record is: I’ve arisen out of bed for all those days at 5 AM! Can you believe it! And now, alas, I wake at that time without needing too. I sure see the goodness in early rising.

Rise and ShineBut I do like to sleep! 

I just paused as I’m writing this in the wee hours and contemplated something I hadn’t completely contemplated before. I don’t use an alarm clock. Do you? My kids are pretty bad at getting up (teenagers, give em break!). Randy is better than me at getting up. But nope, no alarm needed by either of us.

Rooster crowingWhy is that? Because we are a lot like roosters!

Waking up at the same time each day has to do with your biological clock or your circadian rhythm, and the hormones and proteins swimming around in your body. It also has to do with what your body (stomach, brain, etc.) is processing. And what you eat before you go to bed (stay tuned for more on that!) is equally as important to getting a great night’s sleep.

I’ve blogged about my dad (and Randy) both having early morning paper routes. My mom always gets up early. I also remember my grandpa (her dad) told me he always got up at like 4 AM. And Randy’s grandpa and grandma (Cliff and June Yearington, Randy’s mom’s parents) for sure, considering they were Iowa farmers, got up early and worked hard all day.

Randy recalls how his grandma June would grab a chicken early in the morning, wring it’s neck, prepare it and cook it…..all in time for her husband to come in from the fields for lunch. Wow.

Frozen Waffles

My grandma made me frozen waffles for lunch!

Sleep is fascinating. Waking up on time is just as fascinating! So, keep time on your side. Get up on time, be on time, and spend some great quality time wherever you are and whatever you do (at work or at play!)

Happy Memorial Day!

And Happy 17th Birthday To My Beautiful and Talented Daughter Arin (who wishes she could get in more sleep….me to…for her that is.)

 

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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

 

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Des Moines Public Schools had planned to use MLK day as a snow make up, but it was overturned by the school board based on good speaking and listening skills of many people.

MLKMLK would be proud of the process involving the community

I also think he would have appreciated the students being in school on his holiday if that had been the case. He obviously had a lot of education, as his wife did, and knew how important learning is at every age. I have a lot to learn about MLK and how his life continues to evolve throughout communities across our country.

Green garbage truckEvery Tuesday morning the garbage in my community gets picked up

The evening before he was assassinated, MLK was prepared to lead a protest march to help support striking garbage workers. Thank you to the garbage workers and the city street sweepers of Des Moines. I appreciate your work. Des Moines is a beautiful city filled with people who care about our community. I am proud to live here.

Street sweeperI hear it coming down the street quite a few times throughout the year in my community

Thank you Dr. King for all you’ve done, especially for your call to service and for working people across the nation. I’m particularly fond of this quote.

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” ~ a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King.

Be the best you can be at what you do.

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

 

Happy 14th Anniversary Vocational Resources Plus (2012)

Vocational Resources Plus LLC celebrates 14 years in business! (original posting September 1, 2012)

Image result for orchid

I Love Orchids!

September is a special month for me. My birthday is in September (and so is the love of my life, Randy’s) and I started my own business in September…..back in 1999.  Please read on for info on Vocational Resources Plus LLC!Vocational Resources Plus LLC offers an array of vocational rehabilitation services with a focus on placement.

Vocational rehabilitation is a set of services designed to facilitate the return to work process (also known as placement) for individuals following a serious accident or illness that disrupted employment.

Placement is the bottom line of vocational rehabilitation, and therefore is the most in demand service.  Placement can be simply defined as finding suitable employment. Continue to read on for more detail on Vocational Resources Plus LLC’s placement services and procedures.Vocational Resources Plus LLC designs unique placement services to return-to-work problems that arise on workers’ compensation, personal injury and disability cases.

The objective of each placement assignment is to research key details on an individual’s employability. This information provides the base to plan for courses of action. Action is presented in the form of service delivery, case management, and reporting services.

The goal of each service is to identify strategies that are proven to achieve positive employment related results. The objectives that are set forth in a client’s plan will effectively place individuals back into his or her working world.  This ‘pathway to work’ expedites resolution, details the scope of occupational loss, and ultimately addresses the monetary figure of claim that is in litigation.~Vocational Resources Plus LLC offers one of the most comprehensive placement services available in the local market to address workforce issues and attributes of occupations. The value of designing a service specifically based on the individual’s personal background, work history, transferable skills, knowledge and abilities, coupled with his or her interests, aptitudes personality factors and various vocational related attributes is higher than the actual cost of providing the service.

The case is covered carefully while the individual and all representatives associated with the claim are provided with specific details of the situation to better understand the priorities of successful rehabilitation. All services are documented and a narrative report is useful to evaluate the claimant’s rehabilitation potential, to determine the extent of loss of job, or pay, or of employability.

Specific details on level of cooperation to secure employment, worker qualifications compared to existing employment opportunities, and compliance regarding recommended therapeutic intervention or physical exercise are a few examples that are assessed for the individual to adjust to their situation.Vocational Resources Plus is often called upon to help when a case is in litigation or has the potential to become overly problematic and costly. Referrals are welcomed from attorneys and self-insured employers!  The strategy of assigning your difficult cases to a knowledgeable consultant saves time and reduces long-term effects of any claim. 

MISSION STATEMENT

~ Vocational Resources Plus LLC commits to helping with the needs of its clientele by providing consulting services that exceed the standards of practice expected in the field of vocational rehabilitation.

 COMPREHENSIVE JOB PLACEMENT OFFERED THROUGH 

Vocational Resources Plus LLC

Job placement is a professional procedure. The purpose is to assist the job seeker to find a job matching his or her knowledge base, skill sets, abilities, work capacities, interests and aptitudes, as well as needs for location, work scheduling, level of earnings, benefits, plus more!

Comprehensive placement on average can take 4 weeks – 6 months (based on available employment opportunities and client cooperation). Placement is broken down into 3 phases: Information Gathering, Accessing the Labor Market and Placement. Other services such as Job Seeking Skills Training, Vocational Counseling, and Outsourcing are available on an as needed, individualized basis.

Within the first few weeks of placement, the placement specialist may be able to discern if success at obtaining employment is likely or not. All case activities, research and results of efforts are reported. Expert testimony is available.

Phase I ~ Information Gathering

This phase is time intensive and involves meeting the client, orientation, paperwork, appraisal of qualifications and transferable skills, and participating in other preliminary processes. The individual’s skill set is matched with existing employment opportunities. Resumes are prepared, reference building is performed, specific, information details are gathered and goals are set.

Timeframe: 1-3 weeks. The placement specialist can spend from 10-15 hours per week on preliminary processes. The placement client spends as much time as necessary to support this phase.

Phase II ~ Accessing the Labor Market

This phase involves designing a flexible marketing strategy to assist the client in establishing informational interviews and job interviews. Results are evaluated to help make decisions and to clarify career choices. It involves identifying and contacting businesses in appropriate markets and industries to assist with finding adequate profiles of persons to meet marketing needs and job opening requirements.

Timeframe: Commonly starts in the 3rd week and continues as long as feasible opportunities are identified, up to approximately the 6th week. The placement specialist averages 5-10 hours per week. The placement client spends as much time as necessary to support this phase.

 Phase III – Placement

When the client has sufficient opportunities available and is cooperative with placement procedures, this phase unfolds. When the client is placed, follow-up occurs at appropriate increments. If the client is uncooperative or if excessive barriers do not allow for a successful transition into the workforce, other Vocational Resources Plus, LLC services are available or referrals can be made.

Timeframe: Starts at approximately 3 or 4 weeks into the assignment, depending on the client’s situation and continues until placement occurs. A minimum of one month of post-placement services are offered. The placement specialist averages 1-5 hours a week. The placement client spends as much time as necessary to support this phase.

Thanks for reading….now give me a call!  There’s a sample employment packet the client receives, it’s located to the right on my website. Take a look around at all the resources available! I have even more to share!

515-282-7753 or email VocResources@msn.com

    lcpresourcesplus.com

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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.

How My Past has Brought Me to The Present! More Recollections of ISU – Part 16

Hope you enjoyed last week’s blog post about motivation. On to more recollections of my days at ISU:

In the Spring of 1994 I took Social Work 261, taught by Stephen M. Aigner.  For the course,  I was required to read a book about the depression titled “In The Shadow of the Poorhouse”, by Michael B. Katz.

I still remember the book….17 years later (woah)

From Library Journal

According to Katz, the American welfare system that nobody likes has been able to resist fundamental change over two centuries because of its symbiosis with the social structure and the political economy. From his analysis of the history of welfare in the United States he finds that there have always been contradictions among its goals: deterrence, discipline, compassion, control, and patronage. Real reform, unlikely in the near future, would require that both social insurance and public assistance be replaced with full employment at fair pay, complemented by a social wage to all who are unable to work or find a suitable job. A stimulating challenge to the benevolent interpretation of welfare in America; recommended for academic and large public libraries. Harry Frumerman , formerly with Economics Dept., Hunter Coll., CUNY
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

I prepared a report after reading it titled “A Personal Look Into the History of Welfare in America.” The instructor gave me a 100 on the paper and wrote “You’ve worked hard on this and it shows. One of the better papers I’ve had in five years!” The instructor encouraged me to think about a career in social work. Hum, I pondered….

Here’s a few paragraphs from the report I authored April 6, 1994, to answer a couple of questions from Chapter 9:  

Did the claims of critics about the expansion of social welfare hold water?  In my view, the criticisms of social welfare didn’t hold water for a number of reasons. The expansion of social welfare included many new sources of benefits and programs that assisted all level income populations Benefits included in-kind programs, implementation of a retirement wage and increase in public welfare roles. Nutritional programs such as school lunches and dietary supplements for women and young children were expanded. Food stamp application grew and housing projects were subsidized. The commitment of social welfare programs to minimize poor quality living conditions and improve services to enhance human development and the general quality of life was an important step in the continuation of our country’s welfare policy.

Some people criticized the increase in welfare reform. Social insurance was seen to undermine the free enterprise system. And of course, the well known dubious demoralizing work ethic effect thought to exist was ever present. Many people also complained of the increase in federal government expenditures, yet the helping profession wasn’t the only service increased. Perhaps the critics didn’t view health care and legal assistance as beneficial to the entire country.

Relative to other western industrialized countries, how does the U.S. compare in its treatment of its citizens? When all national expenditures for social welfare are added and compared to the gross national product, there is a remarkable comparison between the U.S. and other industrialized demographic countries. The U.S. relies the heaviest on public assistance because our people have lower relative incomes and fewer incentives to work. Our government provides its citizens with a semi (half-there) welfare state. It taxes its citizens fully while only partially helping the disadvantaged members of its population. Compared to Switzerland, the United Kingdom, West Germany and Australia, the U.S. ranks last in its methods and principals of providing helpful assistance to its people.

 Helping Client Systems

Although I didn’t become a social worker, my career as a rehab counselor is similar in nature. Paramount to our work is building relations with clients and client systems. Relationships are based on mutual participation in identifying goals that are practical for the Client.  In my profession as a rehabilitation counselor, I have chosen to focus on helping people find their true vocation.

 A vocation (from Latin vocare, meaning “to call”), is a term for an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which he or she is suited, trained, or qualified. Though now often used in non-religious contexts, the meanings of the term originated in Christianity.  Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocation

 

Into the second week of Lent, I thank God for giving me this gift to help others.

I hope you enjoyed reading. On to Part 16!

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