From Vocational Rehabilitation to Retirement

Photo of Gerald and his retirement cake.

Over 20 years ago, Gerald was referred to Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota (GESMN) by his mother. In his early 40s, he was at a place in his life to make a career change.

“I have done a lot of manual labor over the years. I helped my family care for horses along with other related work,” Gerald explained. “Several years ago, I was looking for work and my mom learned about help through VRS (vocational rehabilitation services). That’s when I started my training program at GESMN and found warehouse employment at Hardware Distribution Limited (HDL).”

During his 20 years of working, Gerald had an ally through the supported employment program. This program gives individuals the opportunity to meet with a career support specialist regularly and talk through any concerns or potential issues that could affect work, as well as celebrate successes.

“Over the years, Gerald’s employer voiced appreciation for the support our organization has given him and how they were able to address his vocational goals,” said Career Support Specialist Erika Nordby.

“Erika helped me once I got my job at HDL,” Gerald recalls fondly. “The workers at GESMN were really nice.”

Gerald says one of his favorite memories from his time working with GESMN was the job training he did in the warehouse, where he helped process donations and baled clothing to be recycled. In this training, he learned skills from time management, to effective communication with coworkers and more.

HDL is in Sauk Rapids, where Gerald worked for 20 years. His manager says that Gerald is a member of their “work family” and they will always care about his overall well-being [even outside of the warehouse where he spent his days].

As for what Gerald will do next?

“Right now, I am enjoying retirement and taking it easy,” Gerald said. “Every weekday, I go to the Whitney Senior Center to socialize and eat meals. I also assist with some volunteer dishwashing work at the senior center. I am also hoping to take a vacation!”

Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota helps people like Gerald experience the power of work, in this case providing 1-1 support for 20 years, and congratulations to him on his well-deserved retirement.