Dustie... Peer Driven
Dustie was referred to ACCES-VR in 2013 by her vocational coordinator at a community agency. At the time that she applied to ACCES-VR, the only career that she had ever known was working at fast food restaurants, but she was no longer able to do this type of work due to her disability. Dustie wanted a career that would allow her to continue working with people while providing her with the income that would enable her to live independently and provide for her children. With guidance from her ACCES-VR counselor, combined with the results of a vocational assessment, Dustie decided to become a counselor. To achieve her career goal, she had to earn an Associate’s degree in counseling. She applied and was accepted to Finger Lakes Community College and she began her studies in the Spring of 2014. With the support of her ACCES-VR and EOP (Educational Opportunity Program) counselors, Dustie graduated with an Associate’s degree in May 2016. Upon graduation from college, her ACCES-VR counselor provided her with Job Placement services. These services helped Dustie refine her interview skills, develop a professional resume, and apply to a variety of businesses.
Around the time that Dustie graduated from college, the Regional Center for Independent Living (RCIL) was selected to provide the Rochester ACCES-VR office with peer integrated services through a pilot program. In June 2016, RCIL hired Dustie as a full time Peer Counselor, working out of the Rochester ACCES-VR office. In her new position, Dustie assists individuals with transportation coordination, health care management, housing navigation, and provides food and clothing referrals so that ACCES-VR participants may overcome these barriers and fully engage in services. Dustie reports that she finds her new job rewarding and fulfilling because it allows her to learn daily and expand her professional knowledge. She states “I’ve grown personally and professionally these last three years, thank you ACCES-VR!”
This story was submitted by Jennifer Geiger
Local Workforce Development and Business Relations Representative
Rochester District Office