Steve S. – Current HIRRS participant

A HIRRS client since 2002, Steve has been working at Starbucks for the past eight years, where he started cleaning tables and later became a barista. “Gabe was my job coach and she helped me to get out there and look for jobs,” Steve says. Working with HIRRS staff helped Steve improve his self awareness and to get along with others, which was key to a successful career in customer service. His favorite part about working at Starbucks? “I meet nice customers and make friends.”

Josh R. – Supported by HIRRS Vocational Staff

“I came to HIRRS in 2004. I have been working at The Freedom Center since November 16, 2009. I found my job by networking, as the vocational groups at HIRRS had been teaching us to do. One person said she thought I'd like volunteering at a place called The Freedom Center. She called or emailed The Freedom Center's executive director giving me a recommendation, and putting me in contact with her. Before I knew, I was interviewing with them to volunteer with the potential to become a paid employee in the future.

In vocational groups I re-learned what appropriate behavior and communication was (still learning that on the job!). HIRRS also helped me succeed in college, and the degree I received was actually a prerequisite of employment at my job. When I was at the Day Program they helped me with so much more including overcoming the daily struggles of living with a brain injury.

I am the Advocacy Coordinator at The Freedom Center. The best part of working here is the chance to make a difference. It is also my opportunity to shine, so to speak; to push and overcome the barriers to my independence; to continue my progress towards complete self-reliance.

I just got my driver's license March 8, 2012. It is the first time I've ever had a license. I am experiencing what it means to want or need to do something, and then to just go do it without having to schedule it with family or public transportation or something. It is beautiful.”

Jeb M. – Living on his own with supports from HIRRS

Jeb has been with HIRRS approximately 15 years. “I’ve worked with Debbie the last 7, 8 years at least. I’ve been through a lot of coaches and had a few jobs: Target, Smith and Hawkins etc. We [my coaches and I] would go for walks and go out in the community to American University Volleyball games.” Jeb says that HIRRS has helped him in many ways, mostly in learning to get along with people. They also, as Jeb says, “helped me cope with my on my own, [be] more confident on my own. They help me not be so scared. I still get nervous but I’m enjoying my life now and I don’t want to lose HIRRS. They’ve been helping me.” Jeb says his life is “a lot better” than when he first left the hospital after his injury and he is happier. “The best parts of working with HIRRS have been the friendships, helpfulness and support. HIRRS is always there for me regardless of when I have my bad times and my good times. I love HIRRS; it’s one of the best things that ever happened to me. I think there should be more around the nation.”

Bob C. – Homeowner, living and working independently

I believe I came to the attention of HIRRS in 1993 (not sure what month). I had been injured in 1992 in a motor vehicle accident. I tried to go back to work and found that I suffered from terrible mental fatigue. Lights and noises now disturbed me greatly. I was constantly distracted and felt as if I was walking about in a fog with the occasional person being able to break through for contact, even at work.

The BIGGEST skill I learned at HIRRS was to arrive "on-time". I then had to learn to listen without debating or being too forceful and mean. That particular skill comes in very handy, listening and then socially speaking WITHOUT being judgmental or mean. Had to learn that life may be a contest but it does not always have to be a debate. It sounds trite, but all these things helped prepare me for getting back into normal society and smoothly existing to make a life in the work world and relations with others.

I later re-learned my vocabulary and how to work with a check book. I was quite emotional and confused at first, so all of this learning had to come in phases as I was ready and able to absorb it. I could remember how I was prior to the accident and was well enough to realize I was having trouble with math and organizing my day or travels; which was quite upsetting to me and my relatives. Impulse control, logical ordered thinking and the consequences of anything long-term just don't seem to be there until healing takes place and rehab. It can be very difficult to organize a thought or wait your turn to speak, let alone remember what you were going to say when it is truly your turn.

Most of my career has been very "hands on" in either actual repair of computer equipment or installation in the post accident time frame. I was lucky that the actual hardware did not change for several years after my accident, thus making reintegration fairly easy as I mastered social skills.

Noise is a huge distracter for me. Even to this very day, I become quite fatigued mentally but a quick break usually clears it up. I then went on to run a computer network and become intimately aware of the daily health of it as it changed and grew in complexity or as the security holes were closed by me according to written plan. That is essential as well for me - the written note or structured plan.

I presently document the migration plan of Marine Corps servers to their new secure location in a virtualized manner. For me, the best part about working here is the relative ease I have in adjusting my schedule.