Orange/San Gabriel Successes

Names below may have been changed to protect privacy


  • Mr. I. is a 44-year-old male diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2004 and lower back pain that prevented him from continuing the work he has done for years. Since being diagnosed with these disabilities in 2004, Mr. I. reported that he has experienced constant pain and fatigue and has been prescribed pain medications including Vicodin. Additionally, Mr. I. reported that he has also been depressed and has been taking Prozac.

    Mr. I. had about 10 years of experience working in the construction field but, due to back pain, was unable to continue and was forced to stop in 2005. Mr. I. has been looking for work that is less physically demanding than that of construction work but, strives to utilize his prior knowledge and transferable skills. When a DOR SVRC (Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor) met with Mr. I. in Feb. 07, he appeared very depressed and felt hopeless, as he could not find any type of decent employment to support himself and his family. Different vocational options were discussed during pre-planning when, given his limited income and resources, Mr. I. asked for DOR to assist him with job placement services. With the coordination of services provided by Dayle Mcintosh Center Counselor, Lisa Bullen as well as support and guidance from Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, Trung Le, (and Mr. I.ís determination and effort) he was able to secure a full time job working as a lead maintenance person for a building management company. Mr. I. reported that he is very happy with his job, as he is able to once again provide for his family without relying on public assistance.

    Today, Mr. I. is working a full 40+ hours per week with full benefits and earns $18.75 per hour. Mr. I., in a letter written to his counselor, expresses his gratitude for the services DOR provided him during this difficult time in his life.

    Congratulations Mr. I.!



  • Richard "Dino" Mehaffie applied for services with the Department of Rehabilitation, because he could no longer continue to do construction work, due to a back injury. He was considering becoming a building inspector, however, that too required functional abilities he could no longer perform. His passion was art. Dino was raised in Chicago, first in an orphanage, then in foster care. Dino's fascination with art began in early childhood. This fascination continued throughout his secondary education and subsequently at an art institute in Chicago, where he received a scholarship at the age of fourteen. After he and his family relocated to the Los Angeles area, his formal art education was suspended, due to financial considerations.

    Dino blames the "smoke" that drives his passion to paint and sculpt Native American artwork on three very specific, spiritual incidents that occurred. Over a 15-year period, in front of other people, smoke started swirling around him without any explanation. Since then he has become obsessed with drawing, painting, and sculpting the Native American image. In 1995 he received a full scholarship, sponsored by a museum in Texas, to participate in a workshop conducted by some of America's well-known and respected artists.

    For years Dino and his wife took his artwork to various galleries and exhibits on their own, hoping that someone would exhibit his work. Although DOR bought art supplies, sponsored community college classes, made referrals, and provided assistance in a variety of different ways, it was the additional help he received from Aliah, in the Workability III Program at Santa Ana College, that placed all the pieces together. Dino learned that cold calling art galleries might get your foot in the door, but not your artwork on their wall - THAT WAS HIS GOAL! His portfolio was revamped to meet the standards required for that industry. Each new portfolio contained: an artist statement, biography of the artist, letter to the Art Director, and resume. Also included was a CD containing pictures of his artwork. Although many of his original pieces have been sold, his prints continue to sell and he also continues to create new works of art. Dino was recently commissioned to create a fine art wall hanging sculpture for a famous Orange County construction company. Some of Dino's work can be viewed at his website

    Dino continues to display much of his artwork in various galleries and museums located in the San Bernardino Mountains, including one in the Big Bear area. He also exhibits his work at a gallery in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Dino said he appreciates everything the Department of Rehabilitation and the Workability III program did to help further his career of becoming a recognized artist.



  • My name is Richard and I would like to tell you how the Department of Rehabilitation has helped me as they can you. I have always been hearing impaired, at least since I was 8 years old. However, as in some cases, mine was not very bad, and was considered borderline in my hearing, meaning I could function in the hearing world. However, it was still extremely hard and most times I was forced to tell people in job situations that I had a hearing impairment. My last good job lasted over 14 years before I was forced to look for employment again. In those 14 years my hearing gradually had gotten worse to where it was readily apparent that I had a problem. This job ended in June 2003 and unemployment ran out in Sep. 2003 without any work on the horizon.

    A friend of mine had told me about a cousin of his who was deaf and was helped by the Dept. of Rehabilitation in that they found work for her. All these years of being borderline made me not want to seek any special favors, but now things were different I'm older and my hearing is worse and more importantly I was near broke. It was just a matter of time before I could not pay my rent, etc. to survive. So, I went to the Dept. of Rehabilitation in Sep 2003 and spoke to Paul. He became my counselor and let me know that the Dept. can do more than what I expected. He realized that I had an outdated hearing aid and, although I was trained in the computer field, that things have changed with the Internet and said more training was needed. Paul set up a program to not only get me trained, but to be able to survive afterwards.

    Paul was able to set up a program for me that got me trained in the Internet by enrolling me for classes at a local college, where I did very good, he was able to get me a new hearing aid, glasses, and books for my classes. All this helped me immensely and I was able to get the training I needed for the future. However, I was not able to get work as easy as I thought it would be. Finally Paul was able to get the computer I needed to complete my classes at college and make it easier to get work. In early 2004 I received a certificate in Computer Internet Programming and started using my skills to make money at what I can do with my training.

    Now I'm working for myself using the computer to make web pages for clients and managing client invoices, and other paper work to free them up to do what they do best. I still was not able to get a regular job, like I had before all this came about, but with my hearing loss and my age, it is not unusual. However, I can take care of myself and I am better trained and equipped to succeed on my own without a regular full time job. As I build more and more clients interested in my abilities I will be secure.

    I'm forever grateful for the help and understanding that I received at the Department of Rehabilitation. You too can get the help you need, even if you think that you are not qualified for any help... at least go there and make sure you are or are not a person that qualifies for the help they can provide. I never would have gone if it wasn't for my friend and I'm sure there are a lot of other people that feel the same way. I have found that the Department of Rehabilitation was there for me. I'm sure if they can not help you like they did me, then they will at least send you in the right direction for you to get the help you need, you really can't lose.

    (DOR - Congratulations Richard! Good Luck and "Thank You" for your comments!)



  • Kristine P. came to DOR in July of 2003. When her case was opened, she was 18 years old and had graduated from McClane High School where she maintained a 3.0 GPA. Kristy was born with nephritis and both kidneys were removed two weeks after her birth. In 1986 Kristy received a kidney transplant from her mother. Kristy experienced acute kidney rejection in 2000 and 2002 and has been on dialysis since January 2003. Kristy needs to avoid duties that require strenuous physical exertion, repetitive and prolonged walking and climbing, exposure to environments where physical injury or infection is a high risk, exposure to extreme temperatures, and consistent activity without rest periods, breaks, or accommodations for medication or medical care. Kristy's best work situation is a sedentary work environment with flexible work hours.

    Kristy's IPE was written in April of 2004 for General Office Clerk. Her case was transferred to the Whittier Unit in November of 2004. After research and discussions, Kristy felt that Whittier Adult Education was her best choice to receive training for General Office Clerk. She started attending Whittier Adult Education in January of 2005 and, although she had a few medical set backs, successfully completed all her classes in August of 2006. During this time Kristy also joined the Bridges program through Whittier Unified School District. Bridges assisted Kristy with information and support regarding her SSI and Medi-Cal/Medicare benefits.

    On August 29, 2006 Kristy started working as a part-time receptionist with a local rehabilitation & convalescent hospital. Kristy enjoys her work very much and is looking forward to a long relationship with her employer. Thanks to the help of the Bridges program and her Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, Kristy has met with success in her life and in her work.

    Congratulations Kristy!



  • Aurelio came to DOR in 1998 as a student with a learning disability who also suffered from an amputation due to an automobile accident. His initial plan for employment was to acquire a prosthetic and train to work as an auto mechanic's helper. The prosthetic was purchased and he received physical therapy; however, over time it became evident that mechanics work was not an option due to pain from standing for long periods of time. Aurelio was able to attend his senior prom and dance with his date.

    A work evaluation was conducted to look into alternatives and the evaluator predicted success in the area of printing. Aurelio was trained and was provided with job placement assistance, and he did work for brief periods in a print shop. He also worked in a Mexican restaurant in East Los Angeles, however this job also only lasted for a brief period.

    Recently with the help of the Dayle Macintosh Center and his counselor, Aurelio started a job at a nail company in South Gate and he has now been successfully employed for over three months.

    Aurelio has never received SSI. When asked why, he said that he has always wanted to work and does not want to accept handouts. Aurelio was recently married, and is proud that he can now support himself and his family.



  • Ms. P., a 57-year-old divorced Chinese-speaking woman came to DOR seeking services. Due to her limited command of the English language, she had worked for years in several local restaurants. After many years of prolonged standing, walking, and heavy lifting, she acquired carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands. This condition prevented her from continuing to work in the food service industry, which she perceived as the only employment opportunity she had based on her educational background and work history.

    She requested DOR assist her with a training program in the field of Nurse's Aid and indicated she wanted to assist the elderly and work in a convalescent hospital. At first, this appeared a rather ambitious undertaking considering she did not possess any formal education even in her own country.

    With her iron determination and perseverance, she took classes to learn English as a second language and simultaneously obtained a certificate of completion in Nurse's aid after two years of rigorous studies.

    She began working part-time for a public agency in Orange County as part of the In-Home Supportive Services program. Now she is employed full-time as a Nurse's Aid in a local convalescent hospital. This was dream she had thought she would not have been able to realize without DOR assistance and her supportive counselor.



  • Nicholas L. is a 37 year old, single parent with a 6 year-old daughter. He was living with his mother and was using his savings to live on. His life was up and down for a while before he decided to apply for Department of Rehabilitation services on 12/18/2003. He came in because he lost his job due to his disability. He was diagnosed with a bilateral, severe visual impairment due to Albinism with Nystagmus. In addition, Nicholas has back problems and diabetes. He has good mobility, is alert and self-sufficient with his present condition, excellent in communication skills and has good problem solving abilities. He did well in high school and went to college for 2 years. He has never let his disabilities affect his life or outlook. He continues to work hard and has overcome many problem situations.

    With the help from Department of Rehabilitation, Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, Lily Nguyen as well as other agencies, he was able to find several jobs but with his struggles with his vision, he could not keep them for long. Finally he found a job in an office environment. He was positive and was hopeful to remain on this job for a very long time. He is currently working at the same job as an Administrative Assistant. Every time his Counselor calls him, his voice sounds very energetic and he says that he loves his job. Per Nicholas, his employer is a non-profit organization; therefore, they were not able to provide Nicholas any accommodations. Therefore, the Department of Rehabilitation provided him with special eyeglasses and a magnifier. With the help of these accommodations, he was able to do well on his job. Once on the job, Nicholas stated that he was on the computer a lot and needed a large monitor screen to help him do better on his job. DOR was able to accommodate him with a flat screen monitor to replace his old one at work. He has been able to maintain his job for almost 8 1/2 months.

    According to Nicholas, he is getting along with his supervisor, co-workers and everyone in the office. Department of Rehabilitation assisted him with job placement, job seeking skills, low vision aids and post-employment. He feels very happy because he is no longer asking for help from his family and is very much independent, on his own and has a happy life.

    Lily Nguyen, Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor



  • Ms. C was referred to the California Department of Rehabilitation office in El Monte by the California Employment Development Department.

    Ms. C had completed education through the 10th and had previously held a manager position at Taco Bell. She had two young children in grammar school and her mother provided supervision of her children during her work shift. The children's father was incarcerated and unable to provide any type of support. The stress of being a single parent, trying to raise two children on a low income, having a learning disability and not having academic or work skills to acquire a higher paying job led Ms. C to a path of addiction to drugs.

    The Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor assigned to Ms. C met her while she was still in treatment. Ms. C had lost her job, her children were in child protective services, her mother was no longer available to provide any assistance and she was homeless. Through counseling and assessment, her counselor provided a path to assist Ms. C re-start her life and work toward employment and gaining custody of her children. An Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) was developed to assist Ms. C achieve her goals.

    The following services helped Ms. C:

    1. Locate housing/Attain GED thru adult school.
    2. Attend drug counseling sessions thru local NA chapters.
    3. Attend child parenting classes.
    4. Complete drug treatment program.
    5. Work clothes for job interview.
    6. Transportation assistance for job search.

    Ms. C is still attending drug counseling and she was re-hired by former employer (with the assistance of EDD and DOR) on the condition that she remains drug-free. Her attempts to gain custody of her children are pending as she demonstrates to the court that she has made significant positive changes in her lifestyle including maintaining employment. It Ms. C's strong desire to get her children back and raise them as a responsible and caring parent that has motivated her to try to stay drug free.



  • Mr. C is a 33 year old, Vietnamese male with a diagnosis of Schizoaffective disorder. He acquired this disability approximately seven years ago. Before he became disabled, he was a good student and worker. He previously obtained a Bachelor's degree in Biology in May 1996. After graduation, he worked in a lab until 1998. Around that time, he began noticing symptoms he had never previously experienced. He had difficulty concentrating or performing daily tasks. Concerned, his family took him to the doctor to find out what was wrong with him. After several visits and testing, his doctor diagnosed him with Schizoaffective disorder. He underwent treatment and care for his medical condition and saw improvement. He began searching for new employment in 2004, but he was unable to find work that fit his background and experience. After 6 months of no success, he decided to get help from the Department of Rehabilitation.

    With the help of DOR Counselor, Lily Nguyen, Mr. C was able to find employment in an office environment as a computer data clerk. He has been in this position for a year and continues to succeed. Everyone in the office from his manager, to supervisor, to co-workers adores him. He shows them great respect and they enjoy having him there. The Department of Rehabilitation assisted him with his transportation needs, job placement, job seeking skills, and provided counseling services. For the first time in seven years, he feels happy and content because he can support himself financially and no longer requires any help from his family. He feels very independent and happy with his life. He is very appreciative of the help, support and assistance provided by his counselor and the Department of Rehabilitation.



  • Craig L. graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree from a state university in Pomona. The Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) sponsored Craig to achieve this goal by providing college tuition, books and supplies as well as other school related expenses. Craig's disabilities are bilateral profound sensori-neural hearing loss and speech impairment. Craig graduated with minimal work experience in his field of study. The DOR began working in collaboration with Goodwill Industries to provide job preparation, direct placement services and interpreter services for Craig.

    Craig researched local job leads and worked closely with his DOR Rehabilitation Counselor by completing the required "Schedule A" paperwork for various federal government job openings. Craig, and his Rehabilitation Counselor's persistence, succeeded in obtaining employment for Craig within the federal government in Maryland as an Information Technology Specialist with specialty emphasis in systems analysis and applications software. This federal government position has promotion potential to the highest level of government. The DOR also assisted Craig with transportation costs to move out of California to Maryland. Craig is doing well with his job performance and is gratefully satisfied with his present employment.



  • Rodney K. came to the Anaheim DOR office in January 2005 to work with Doug Muir. His medical doctor had recommended he apply for state disability medical leave after having surgery for cancer. His disability benefits began December 2004. His goal was to return to work by December 2005, when his benefits ended. Due to the surgery, he was medically restricted to a maximum weight he could lift. Rodney had to find a new career. With the transferable skills he had, Rodney chose to become a structural steel inspector.

    Rodney proved himself a model client by doing a great deal of research about types of schools and certifications necessary to achieve his goal. DOR approved his plan to attend a private school. He demonstrated great enthusiasm, earned several certificates, and passed numerous professional exams.

    In November 2005, Rodney returned to the work force as a special inspector nearly doubling his income. He says he appreciates all the services he received from the Department.

    Rodney also says, "My advice to [DOR consumers] is, don't totally depend on [DOR] to do all the work. You must depend on yourself to get the best result for yourself."


  • William B. is a 50-year-old male with the diagnosis of Failed Back Syndrome due to multiple back surgeries. William experiences severe back pain on a daily basis that limits his ability to sit, walk or stand for prolonged periods. When severe back injuries made it impossible for William to return to work in 2000, he came to the Department of Rehabilitation for assistance. For a number of years, he had volunteered as an Athletic Coach with young people. This experience had given him an interest in becoming a teacher.

    William made the Dean's list a number of times while attending a local college. This was quite an accomplishment since his last educational experience was over 25 years ago. He completed his AA Degree at the college and transferred to a state university in Pomona. During the course of his academic career, William continued to have other back surgical procedures. However, these temporary setbacks did not discourage him. With on-going encouragement and support from his Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (SVRC) C. Palmer, coupled with his positive attitude and determination, William continues to do extremely well at the state university. He completed his Bachelor's Degree, SUMMA CUM LAUDE, in June 2005, the second highest honor in his graduating class. The Department will continue to provide William with encouragement, support and other required services as he begins the job placement phase of his Individual Plan for Employment (IPE).

    William is completing his teaching credential and enjoying the hands-on experience of student teaching. He has shown great courage and determination to continue to forge ahead amidst life's setbacks. William overcame personal barriers and limitations while maintaining steadfast focus on his new teaching career.


  • John became disabled at two years of age. He was diagnosed with poliomyelitis which severely affected his ability to walk. John first heard about the services provided by the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) in 2003. He did not believe any assistance offered by the agency would help him get back into the work force.

    John's vocational rehabilitation counselor, Tanh Le, convinced John that with enthusiasm, hard work, and motivation anything is possible. John's considerable efforts, Tanh Le's counseling skills, the DOR's various other services, and the job developer's job-market research experiences, John found a rewarding job in a well-established CD/Video production company. He has consistently worked as one of the top ten employees.

    In a recent follow-up with John, he stated, "DOR has given back my happy life!"



  • Charles, had a long history of drug abuse. After 4 months of drug stabilization through a local substance abuse recovery program, Charles was referred to the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) for vocational rehabilitation services. After a thorough assessment, it was determined that Charles was chemically dependent with the following functional limitations: avoidance of highly stressful work situations and avoidance of situations providing access to addictive substances.

    Next, the DOR provided vocational exploration services. Charles devoted considerable time to evaluating various vocational options. He visited local adult schools and community colleges. Charles and his Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, Rick Wilcoxen, met and discussed what Charles had learned. They agreed on a vocational plan consisting of training in alcohol & drug abuse counseling through a certificate program offered by a local community college.

    During the training program, Charles' grandmother provided him room and board and the DOR provided funding for the training. Charles used the services of the Disabled Student Center to help him with registration and academic planning. After two years, he completed the training program. He was then referred to our Job Developer who provided job search assistance. Charles, with the support of DOR, was able to find suitable employment as an alcohol & drug counselor. Charles has reported he is very satisfied with his new employment.



  • Jennifer was involved in an auto accident that nearly claimed her life. She was driving on the freeway when luggage that was secured to her roof fell off her car and into traffic. This is the last memory she has of the accident; her car was struck by a charter bus. Jennifer sustained massive head injuries and was not expected to survive. As a result of the accident, she was diagnosed with Acute Traumatic Brain Injury.

    After the accident, Jennifer was living in a board-and-care facility and was miserable. She did not trust her roommate and suspected that illegal activities were going on when she was not there. She also thought that some of her things were being stolen but was not sure. Prior to this accident Jennifer was successful and had even attained her Masters Degree.

    Jennifer's frustration led her to apply for DOR services. She took a very active role in her rehabilitation. She has attended all her appointments with physical therapists, cognitive therapists, counselors and other rehabilitation team members. Jennifer was at times a bit abrupt with people and was unsure that her rehabilitation team members were here to help her succeed. She needed to relearn how to relate to others and how others perceived her demeanor. Through counseling, Jennifer made steady improvements. Her counselor, Brian Steele, was an invaluable asset in her rehabilitation by acting as a sounding board to her fears, and giving her advice on how to talk with others.

    DOR was able to provide assistance with clothing, training and job placement. Jennifer completed coursework to become a security guard and passed with flying colors. She has been interviewing and doing well in her new clothes and confident demeanor. Jennifer has moved out of the board-and-care facility and into her own place. Between the wages that she will receive from her position as a security guard and Social Security benefits she will be able to sustain independent living.

    Recently, Jennifer contacted Rehabilitation Supervisor Patty Tso-Lui, and District Administrator June Kuehn about how happy and grateful she was for the services she received from her counselor, Brian Steele. In her letter, she wrote that Brian "changed her life" and that he "gave her hope again."



  • Henry, a 46 year old male with a diagnosis of minimal brain dysfunction and Asperger's Syndrome, was laid-off from his job of four years as a data-entry clerk. After losing his employment he applied for services from the DOR.

    After assessment, it was initially determined Henry was ready for job placement.

    After having no job placement success, Henry's family inquired about how he could receive SSI and Medi-Cal. Henry's Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, Mr. John McMann, directed him to his local Social Security office to begin the application process. Mr. McMann stressed the importance of continuing on his employment search to Henry.

    Henry met with a job developer and it was determined the best course of action was to enroll in a local adult school. This school offered training in data-entry, bank proofing and 10-key. After improving the data entry skills he already had, as well as becoming proficient in bank-proofing and 10-key, he secured employment at a local bank. Henry was able to incorporate all of the skills he acquired at the adult school. He no longer receives monetary compensation from SSA but continues to receive Medi-Cal Health insurance, which was a major concern when he applied.

    Henry keeps in touch to say hello and inform his DOR counselor, Mr. McMann, of his progress.



  • Flora V. is a 69 year old Hispanic female with the diagnosis of Degenerative Spondylolisthesis and advanced Facet Arthropathy. Flora experiences severe back pain and muscle spasms on a routine basis. This condition makes walking and standing for long periods of time very painful. In addition to these issues, Flora was also morbidly obese which exacerbated her back problems. With the help of DOR, Flora decided that she did indeed have skills and abilities that she could use in the work force. With the assistance of DOR, she was able to overcome her disabilities and use these skills to reenter the work force. Flora lost 80 lbs through Gastric Bypass surgery and went from a size 24 to a size 12! She reports being able to walk with more ease and feels less self-conscious around others.

    With the help of DOR, Flora was able to get a part time job with a company that hires Customer Service Agents to provide tax information to the public. Flora felt that with the flexibility of the position she could work another job to become more financially stable. She was encouraged to apply at various companies to increase her work hours. After interviewing at another company, she was hired as a Customer Service Representative assisting the public with directions and public transportation related issues. Flora has been a delight to work with. She has shown great courage and determination in overcoming her barriers and fully utilizing her talents.

    Renee Williams