A new career can unlock potential within you that you never realized you had. Roger is a shining example of this, with support from Work Opportunities Unlimited (WOU)! Lisa Charleville, a Career Resource Specialist on the WOU Broward team, dedicates her days to breaking down barriers to employment for people with disabilities. When she first started working with Roger, she learned that he thought he’d only be capable of remote work. Lisa says, “Being quadriplegic and with limited use of his hands, Roger was afraid that he was very limited on his job options.” However, Lisa and his Vocational Rehabilitation counselor both encouraged Roger to seek a position out of the home. She recalls, “We told him, ‘You need to be out there with other people. You need to get out and see the world.’”

Roger began with an on-the-job training opportunity at a local animal rescue and botanical garden. There he was a greeter, counting the number of guests and advising them on where to find various attractions throughout the park. “He loved it. He just opened right up,” says Lisa. With his friendly nature, booming voice, and good sense of humor, he was a favorite among staff and visitors. “By the time he finished his three months there, everyone knew who Roger was,” says Lisa. “Roger is a people person. He really likes to talk to people; that is his main skill.” He wished to continue on as an employee of the botanical garden, but they could only offer one paid hour each week at the time, so Roger and Lisa sought another opportunity that would use his excellent customer service skills.

Only a couple of weeks later, Roger went for an interview at a sporting goods store. Lisa was excited to introduce Roger to Carson, the store manager, with whom she already had a great working relationship. “First, we went through for a tour to make sure Roger could get himself and his wheelchair through the aisles,” Lisa says. “Once we knew he was good to go, the interview began, and Carson hired him right on the spot!” Although Roger had applied for a seasonal position, Carson asked him to submit his application for a new opening for a permanent cashier role. Lisa shares, “Carson said, I don’t want you just for seasonal, I want you all the time.” Two days later, shortly before Christmas 2023, Roger began onboarding as a part-time greeter and cashier!

Carson quickly enacted modifications to make it easier for Roger to perform his duties. The computer at the checkout was lowered to a suitable height for Roger to access the screen comfortably, and the register was changed to accept only credit cards, so he does not have to handle customers’ change. Roger uses a rubber-tipped stick to operate his computer’s touchscreen. He is able to utilize the handheld scanner to look up items for customers, checking availability as well as location of merchandise in the store, and he’ll hit the button on his walkie for assistance from another employee when needed. Of course, Roger is a natural at greeting customers and asking how he can assist them. In addition, he assists with inventory, checking meticulously through hanging racks to ensure each clothing item is properly tagged. “Roger is really excited that Carson keeps thinking about different tasks that he can do,” shares Lisa. “We have found out that there are a lot of things he is capable of.” Most importantly, Roger loves his new job, and it’s so close to his home that can wheel himself to work in 10 minutes, no transportation service required.

Lisa is thrilled at how accommodating the entire staff is at the store, and how enthusiastic Carson is about employing WOU clients. The location offers Roger “above and beyond support. They really opened their doors and are seeing the bigger possibilities.” With his can-do attitude and commitment to customer service, Lisa says, “Roger’s responsibilities will continue to grow, and I think that there’s going to be room for advancement for him.” Congratulations, Roger!