No hope to new hope in Mineral County

I received a visit today from one of my clients who had lost his arm as a young child and has worked with one arm all his life, mostly in agriculture and farming.

He entered my office years ago with no hope of ever doing better due to his restrictions and the fact he only speaks Spanish. I referred him to Voc Rehab and ESL classes many times.

He worked on and off with programs throughout the 60 months of assistance, as he was back and forth with employment with the same employer. He would start the process with Voc Rehab, but could never complete it because he would start employment again. He also worked with our GED center for ESL classes.

When the family completed 48 months, I brought them in and explained the time frame we had to work on this issue and stated that it was in his best interest to take advantage of what Voc Rehab could do for him. He was unsure, but stated he would try it and would talk to his boss about the opportunity he had with the program. The company let him off of work for the time he needed to work with Voc Rehab. He eventually came off TANF, but continued with employment and working with Voc Rehab.

He showed up today with his prosthetic arm in place after working with Voc Rehab all those years, and asked to see me. When I walked in to the room it was a big surprise to see who it was. He moved his prosthetic arm back and forth for me to see and had a smile as big as the Grand Canyon. I couldn't help but cry.

I told him this was the best Christmas present I could have ever received. We were all in tears, and he stated that he couldn't have done it without me. I told him 'No, all I gave you was the tools. You are the reason for your success, because you followed through.'

It took exactly one year for him to get his arm, but he couldn't have asked for a better present than this. He received it a week ago, and says that he feels complete. He is also eligible for the bionic arm, as he still has working nerves in his shoulder and has excellent upper body strength.

I can't even begin to tell you how overwhelmed with joy I am right now.

Our resources do work, we just have to keep putting them in our customers' paths. I know because of this gentlemen, I will look at things a whole lot differently and always remember that big smile he had today. Merry Christmas!

- Marlene Hernandez
Employment Benefits Unit Job Coach
Rio Grande/Mineral County
December 2015
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