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Salt River Vocational Rehabilitation Program Strives for the Success of Its Clients
By Sheila Begay
Au-Authm Action News

Nearly four years ago, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community applied for a grant under the American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program (RSA), a program of the U.S. Department of Education, and was granted $1.8 million ($365,000 a year for five years) to start a vocational rehabilitation program for the Community. Since then, the Salt River Vocational Rehabilitation (SRVR) program, with a staff of four, has assisted a total of 241 Community members and 18 American Indians who reside within the Community to find employment.

The Salt River Vocational Rehabilitation program is designed to support Native Americans with disabilities toward achieving a positive employment status. They are willing to assist those who want to work and are able to work, but may need some support and/or services in order to find an appropriate job and be successful.

Eligibility Requirements

Those in the program must meet the following requirements:

1. Have a documented disability that creates an impediment to employment.

2. Be an enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe.

3. Live within the boundaries of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

4. Be available and able to work.

5. Can benefit from SRVR services to obtain a positive employment outcome.

What Is the Vocational Rehab Process Like?

Over a period of 90 days (the timeframe can be individualized), program participants go through several steps: receiving a referral, making an application, verifying eligibility, developing an individualized employment plan, finding employment, and closure. Services include guidance and counseling, vocational training, job placement, coaching, assistive technology, on-the-job assistance, referral and information, transportation, and helping with occupational needs (work equipment, uniforms, interview clothing, licenses and other things).

Two Community members who have found employment and benefited from the program are Penrose Fulwilder, Sr., artist and owner of Akimel Dzign; and general laborer/custodian Ronald Arthur. They report that their experience with SRVR has been only positive, and through this program they found inspiration to get back out into the workforce and become working citizens.

Im very proud of the work weve done. [The SRVR staff] has done a good job at really tailoring [vocational rehabilitation] to each individual. What makes our program different is that its driven by the individuals. The person whose plan it is has the most say. The counselors use their professional knowledge to guide them, but its really driven by [our clients], said SRVP program manager Melanie Murray.

The SRVR program hosts meetings every two weeks in room B102 at Two Waters Building B from 10 to 11 a.m. The next SRVR orientation dates are set for January 12 and January 26.

For more information about SRVR, call (480) 362-2650.

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