When Joe had an opportunity to volunteer with the Dream Factory of Central Missouri Trivia Night last spring, he met someone who changed the course of his life. Joe and his family have been long-time supporters of the Dream Factory and each year he volunteers his time to build a birdhouse to be used as a silent auction item to help raise money for the local chapter of the childhood wish-granting organization. Joe was also helping out at the event that evening and met the man who bought his birdhouse. Mitch Casteel happened to work at Veterans United (VU) and struck up a conversation with Joe.
One thing lead to another and Joe was offered a unique 10-week internship opportunity to job shadow employees at Veterans United to learn more about the company and the services it provides. Joe got to interact with employees three days a week in a variety of departments including branch management, accounting, security, information technology and lending. And he got paid to do so. “The internship at VU was pretty awesome,” says Joe. “It’s what made me decide to go to college full-time – so I could get a job at VU or someplace like it.”
“What is so great about this opportunity is that Mitch was willing to look beyond the physical disability and see the potential of what Joe could become,” says Suzanne Boss, Joe’s Support Coordinator at Boone County Family Resources. “Mitch saw a highly intelligent person who just needed some direction. He stepped in and inspired Joe to do more. Joe is motivated to find a future career and his family is supportive of his efforts.”
Joe is currently taking 13 hours of classes at Moberly Area Community College (MACC) to obtain his associate’s degree – one of the requirements for employment for the area of work he is interested in at Veterans United. “School is going good, but it is a bit overwhelming,” says Joe. He is doing this through support from Vocational Rehabilitation who is paying for his tuition, fees and books for the next two years.
David West from ACT Career Services worked with Joe throughout his internship at Veterans United. “Joe got the opportunity to do lots of hands-on activities while he was interning at VU,” says David. “After this experience, Joe found the extra value in what a college education could bring to the pursuit of a career at a place like VU. He was determined that pursuing an associate’s degree would be more beneficial to him than seeking a part-time job, and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agreed. With accommodations from MACC and the financial assistance through VR, in two years, Joe will be ready to apply for a job that he will truly enjoy.”
“I want to work at VU because of the type of work they do – helping our veterans,” says Joe. “Plus, VU was very welcoming. It made me realize there were lots of options out there for jobs I would like.”