Navigating Challenges, Defying Odds, and Creating Impact
At the heart of VOA Southeast’s Supported Employment Program lies the inspiring story of Jarvis, a resilient individual diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Jarvis’ transformative path toward independence began in 2021 when he joined our program, seeking employment upon returning to his hometown. We had the honor of sitting down with Jarvis to dive deeper into his incredible journey, discovering the challenges he faced, the triumphs he celebrated, and the profound impact he continues to make on the community.
Jarvis’ Journey to Supported Employment at VOA Southeast
Jarvis was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy when he was just 10 months old. Despite the diagnosis, he never used a wheelchair, enabling him to walk, move around, and even hold a job. Throughout his childhood, Jarvis attended various rehab classes that played a crucial role in helping him lead an independent life. After spending five years in Atlanta with his godparents, everything changed when his grandmother passed away in 2021. Jarvis made the decision to move back to Mobile, and that’s when his mother’s godbrother encouraged him to reach out to Vocational Rehab for a job. Serving as a stepping stone to get him on his feet, Vocational Rehab covered transportation and uniforms. Once Jarvis received his first paycheck, he was on his own. Through this support, they connected him with VOA Southeast’s Supported Employment Program, marking the beginning of a transformative chapter in his life.
The Power of Personalized Support
Asked about his experience with the Supported Employment Program and the job coaches, Jarvis expressed that his first job coach was a great support. They’ve stayed in touch, and he’s even had the pleasure of meeting her husband and children. Lunch dates became a regular occurrence, and she has been an incredible support throughout.
Working with a job coach, there are these key moments that show significant progress. In the first 160 days when Jarvis’s case is open, there are frequent check-ins to ensure he is getting the support he needs. After that, the check-ins change, becoming more tailored to his needs and how far he’s come. These milestones are like markers that help Jarvis see how much he’s grown and moved forward on his path to independence and a successful job. Jarvis appreciates that Anthony, the director of Supported Employment, ensures that job coaches are trained to provide one-on-one support. This approach goes beyond a simple check-in; it fosters a more personal connection, making the support more meaningful.
Jarvis’s Remarkable Achievements Beyond Work
Regarding significant achievements and activities outside of his professional work, Jarvis founded his own nonprofit organization, Team Victory, in 2012. Focusing on supporting families with individuals who have disabilities and educating the community, Jarvis has been involved in various initiatives like school giveaways, back-to-school events, Christmas and Thanksgiving donations, and other drives over the past 12 years. In March 2023, he organized his first major event – a gala – during Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. Celebrating “the ability in disability” with rehab agencies and speakers. In May 2023, Jarvis had his first public speaking event at Project SEARCH Mobile, part of the Project SEARCH High School Transition Program. This unique program combines classroom instruction, career exploration, and on-the-job training to help students with significant disabilities transition successfully into adulthood. Jarvis currently serves on the VOA Southeast Human Rights Committee Board (HRC) and in August of 2023, he received assistance from the board in securing his first apartment through VOA Southeast housing. Beyond all this, Jarvis has also started his own graphic design company. It’s been quite a journey, and he’s grateful for the opportunities to make a positive impact in the community.