Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My Journey

Hafa Adai from Spokane Washington! My name is Tracy   Fejeran, former resident of Sinajana, an individual with multiple disabilities. I have been blind since 2006 from diabetic retinopathy, I have no light perception at all. In 2009 I was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease; I received dialysis treatment three times a week on a nocturnal shift. This is an eight hour session on a dialysis machine from 8:30 PM to 4:30 AM. After a lengthy screening process I was placed on the national kidney transplant waiting list on May 30, 2013. I've decided that while I am waiting for a kidney, I'd like to pick up with my plans to someday become employable. I've learned that through my advocacy work that I enjoy helping others and would like to become a social worker and assist individuals with disabilities in similar cases. This would require retraining on my part which I am able to obtain through the state provided services from the division of vocational rehabilitation and network agencies.. Before I left Guam, I was already in the process of doing my individual employment plan with the local DVR. However due to my absence, my case file has been inactive. Therefore, I have had to start over from the beginning. I'd like to share with you all my journey and experiences with this process. I contacted the division of vocational rehab, I inquired on their orientation dates. The first step in seeking services from DVR is to attend an orientation. Fortunately this is offered three times a week in different time slots to accommodate everyone... Orientation time took only 30 minutes, I attended my orientation on January 22 Wednesday at 11 AM. A vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselor introduced herself as someone who is a former DVR client as well. She explained that she is deaf and that she had an interpreter speaking to us in the corner of the room. We listened to a brief account of her personal story availing herself the services from DVR and finally becoming employed as a VR counselor. She left the room so we can watch a 20 minute video. At the end of this video I was so inspired because I met individuals in similar cases as mine who have successfully reached their goals of employment. We got some information on the type of services that DVR provided and the local agencies networking. Because of my blindness DVR will be working with the division of services for the blind (DSB) to give me the most that the state offers. I'm so excited, everything looks very good from here. Applications were handed out for us to complete at home prior to calling back DVR to schedule an intake. I completed my application and was scheduled  to return on Monday, February 3. At the same time, I was given a contact person and a number to call at DSB. I gave her a call and scheduled an intake for Wednesday,  February 5. I would say from this initial experience that the difference between DVR Spokane and our local DVR on Guam is that the orientations I done more frequently and scheduled to accommodate everyone, which is a quicker turnaround time than Guam DVR, sometimes the initial intake process won't be scheduled til the following month.  So I brought my completed application back to the Spokane DVR office on Monday Feb. 3rd, and was interviewed by a VR technician. As part of the eligibility criteria screening, I needed to sign consent forms for my doctors as well as for DSB because both agencies will be networking so all information will be shared between State offices. They also offered me the opportunity to become a registered voter and assisted me with the process. The VR technician talked to me about my informed choices and about the network agencies, she also explained about my rights and about the client assisted program. She assigned me a VR counselor and I was referred to begin a three day workshop from February 11 to February 13. This workshop would provide me with more information and support as a part of their "Stride to Life" program from 9 AM to 4 PM. I met my VR counselor at the DSB office on February 5 Wednesday. This office has a staff of
five to include a VR counselor, an assistive technology(AT) technician, an orientation and mobility(ONM) instructor and VR technicians. I basically went through the same intake process as DVR with emphasis on services for the blind. I signed more consent forms and will be assessed by an AT technician in the upcoming weeks to find out what AT devices will best work for me. I'll need to start my application for financial aid for the fall semester at Spokane Community College. I'll also have an assessment done here at home to make sure I have the AT's for basic living skills. An orientation and mobility instructor will help me with my long white cane and braille lessons. I am in awe of the services that is offered through both agencies. My initial first impression this whole process of getting started with DVR and DSP is very encouraging, the staff are very professional, cordial and pleasant to talk to you. At no time did I ever feel intimidated or discouraged.  

Guma’ Mami programs provide opportunities for individuals to enjoy life, strive to reach their full potential, and be part of Guam’s community.

It is the mission of Guma’ Mami, Inc., to facilitate the full inclusion and integration of adults with intellectual disabilities and other disabilities into their communities through individual and family supports. We provide supportive services in a residential and community setting in order to enable individuals to live as full members of their communities.

For more information visit: www.gumamami.org