The North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) team presented performance and recognition awards to 12 team members at an annual training conference Oct. 26 in Minot.
Vocational rehabilitation professionals helped 562 North Dakotans with disabilities obtain competitive, integrated employment in their community during the last federal fiscal year.
Lori Rodgers from the Grand Forks office was presented with the Director’s Award for Excellence. Rodgers was nominated by her peers for her program knowledge, involvement in numerous VR projects and top-notch customer service to clients and businesses.
Jacque Harder, Rebecca Martin, Megan Stone and Jennifer Reinke from the Fargo office received the Award for Counselor Achievement, which recognizes the top 10% of counselors who helped the most individuals become employed.
Dickinson region team member Sharon Mocabee-Sisco, Grand Forks region team member Erik Anthony and Fargo region team member Ethan Becker received the Award for Counselor Achievement - Honorable Mention for having the second highest number of clients to achieve employment.
Erik Anthony and his colleagues in the Grand Forks office were presented with the Exemplary Service Award for providing outstanding case service to clients through creative thinking, direct work with multiple agencies and consistent client follow-up.
The VR Team Participation Award was presented to the Bismarck office for their involvement in community activities.
Two new team awards were presented this year. The Overall Team Achievement Award was presented to team members from the Williston office for exceeding performance goals that promote engagement and success for individuals they serve. The Swift Response Team Award was presented to the Minot office for providing timely services that meet the needs and expectations of clients.
Grand Forks office team member Corey Birkholz was named Rookie of the Year. This award honors a VR employee who has less than two years of service, exceeds performance goals, and displays a high level of community service and involvement.
The Pillar Award was presented to Cindy Sullivan from the Grand Forks office. This award recognizes support staff who contribute to the success of individuals with disabilities to become employed.
VR also presented career achievement awards, which are based on the number of people with disabilities placed into employment over the course of a vocational rehabilitation counselor’s career. Elton Lassiter of the Bismarck office and Chelsea Feil of the Grand Forks office received the Career Achievement – 100 Club Award.
VR team members provide assessments and counseling to help individuals with disabilities identify strengths and goals. They also connect individuals to training, education, assistive technology, supportive services and provide job placement assistance.
To receive VR services, individuals must have a disability that impedes employment, must want to work and be available to work. Many of the individuals served have a physical or cognitive disability.
VR also connects businesses to qualified prospective employees who can meet their workforce needs, can help businesses retain employees affected by disabilities and find solutions to other disability-related issues.