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DVR in the News

Self-employment opportunities and micro enterprises most often spring from an individual's interests and talents. Through discovering a "niche" for those interests and talents in a marketable service or product, an enterprise develops.

Through partnerships with several community-based service providers, the Wisconsin Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) supports people with significant disabilities to find a niche, through a micro-enterprise, to showcase their talents in a program called Supported Self-Employment.

One DVR consumer, Jacob Slovacek, was recently featured in an NBC 15 (Madison) news story. Jacob participates in a Supported Self-Employment program that allows him to use his creative talents to earn a living. The name of Jacob's business is Hey Mister Designs.

NBC 15 Video Link http://www.nbc15.com/video/?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=8036648#.UMDYPe6oumU.email

Jacob has worked with DVR Counselor Cliff Wollin to develop his employment goals and determine what supports Jacob would need to reach those goals. Cliff said, "I have enjoyed working with Jacob for the past two years. He has demonstrated a real passion and talent for drawing. Jacob's drawings, inspired by popular cartoons, movies and book characters, have led to him creating original artwork for greeting cards, and he also works developing custom art designs for local businesses. I look forward to Jacob's continued success and, always, unique designs."

Through DVR's coordination and funding of various services, including business assessments, education, mentorship, use of computer and assistive technology, marketing and other business-related services, Jacob was able to successfully develop a business plan. Jacob's goal is to continue to draw, grow his business, and become more self-sufficient.

To learn more about Supported Self-Employment, visit http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dvr/pdf_files/self_employment_customized_toolkit.pdf

Wellness in 2013

'Tis the season for New Year's Resolutions!

DWD and Deer Oaks, through the Employee Assistance Program, offer many resources to help employees stick to those resolutions and make wellness and healthy habits a part of every day.

EAP Services Include:

  • Telephone intakes with trained care coordinators.
  • Telephonic or face-to-face counseling.
  • Comprehensive telephonic and face-to-face assessments.
  • Short-term individual, family, couples & group counseling.
    • 5 sessions/person/issue/year
  • Thorough treatment recommendations.
  • Legal and financial counseling services.
  • Unlimited management & supervisory consultation.

EAP Introductory PowerPoint

DVR Wellness Initiative

It has been one year since DVR began its pilot wellness project. The Project was developed by DVR staff as a DOA Enterprise Leadership Academy 2011 class project. Wisconsin Works Well is aimed at improving DVR employees' overall wellness by increasing awareness of and access to EAP services, as well as to create cost savings in the form of reduced sick leave use.

DVR established Wellness Coordinators in each WDA/CO to customize wellness opportunities based on staff survey results and geographic resources. Over the past year, the local Wellness Coordinators have worked to schedule EAP Resource Overview presentations as well as other customized WDA/CO specific events.

DVR local Wellness Coordinators focus on accessing current or free resources to share with staff as it relates to physical, financial, and emotional wellness. In 2013, look forward to your Wellness Coordinator initiating other new events. We encourage staff to contact their Wellness Coordinator with new wellness ideas they would like to see initiated.

To learn more about the DVR Wellness project, including your local Wellness Coordinator, you can visit their SharePoint site: http://cs-dvr/work_groups/wellness/default.aspx.

From WDA 7

Submitted by Wanda Johnson

I thought it would be good to introduce my co-workers to something new and healthy. So for WDA 7's October Workplace Wellness activity I brought in three dishes for everyone to sample. The first was Quinoa and Black Beans, the other two were Israeli Couscous Tabouli, one with pearl couscous, the other with Mediterranean couscous. I also brought in a bottle of Naked Juice-Green Machine. It's not pretty to look at, but it's a delicious sweet juice.

The reactions were … interesting. Some were very enthusiastic to try something new, a couple people had tasted some of them before, and some were very reluctant, but brave enough to taste the "unusual".

I was recently informed that the United Nations deemed 2013 the "International Year of Quinoa". Quinoa is known as the "golden grain of the Incas". It provides fantastic health benefits. It's one of the only plant-based sources of protein that contains all the essential amino acids your body needs. Cooked quinoa can become a salad, a base for a veggie burger, a great addition to soup, and an ideal mix-in for breads, cookies, and bars. Apparently it can even be popped like popcorn! With a repertoire like that, it's no wonder 2013 will be the Year of Quinoa!

Please Google Quinoa to find some wonderful recipes! Try something healthy and new.

Thanks for a Job Well Done

Alan Gilbertson, VRC - Menomonie

Feedback received on an AgrAbility customer satisfaction survey.

The first I heard of this program was through my local and caring bankers. The banker made the initial call to Melba Brown, and she took it from there to get it started. As things progressed, the farm meeting with Jeff Kratochwill and Alan Gilbertson was held. To my surprise, I was worried about my breathing and pain with the disability but NEVER once did they make me feel put down, but total opposite. Jeff and Alan - two very knowledgeable guys - they looked, we all talked, they listened and then they suggested; we all talked it over to arrive at things that were more helpful than thought possible. In my opinion, I could not have worked with nicer people. They went above and beyond the call of duty.

Many thanks.

Matt Maloney, VRC - Green Bay

Thank you so much. You are so easy to work with, understanding and efficient.

Larnzetta McFadden - VRC, Madison

Email from DVR Service Provider

I have recently shared the story of (consumer's name) success, and how you had authorized several TWEs to help him choose his career goal. He is doing great - he's been working at Sam's Club, and has moved up from the utility position he started in to a customer service position, and is doing well. I was sharing the story of how wonderfully supportive you were in designing his plan to let him try three different fields before making a choice of goal, and how it really helped him.

Sandy Valentine - VRC, Green Bay

Thanks for the final on my plan. Glad we're all clear. And more importantly, thanks so much for all of your efforts and patience in working with me through it all! You are a pro, and I am grateful.

Thanks, again.

Mari DeJarlais - VRC, La Crosse

These are my paystubs that you requested from me. Thank you so much for helping me and believing in me. My voice is no longer empty, it is filled with hope.

Amy Ten Haken - VRC, Manitowoc

As this year comes to a close, I just want to say thank you to DVR, and all those who were instrumental in helping me. Especially you Amy, you just don't know how much you helped me believe in myself. Today, I have a wonderful relationship with my sons, I have three clients, and on Tuesday, was informed that the organization that I am a member of and on the board of directors, has nominated me as President-elect. The votes from the members were unanimous. Next year, if I want the position, I will take on the position of President. Such a big thing considering it took me three months to attend my first meeting because of the anxiety.

If there is anything I can ever do for DVR, by giving back what was so graciously given to me, please let me know. I know my journey is not over by any means, but I have hope for my future and my wish is that those that begin their journey will someday have that hope as well.

Larry Dresser and the DVR IRIS Team

Email regarding IRIS enhancements.

Absolutely wonderful. I am so proud to work for an agency that is constantly improving our efficiency. Thanks to all that made this possible.

Therese Conley - VRC, Jefferson

If it was not for DVR's services I would not have made it this far from an emotional standpoint. I understand the cost of care for me has been big but it has paid big for me, the community, and the mission of rehabilitation in general ... I have been hospitalized for depression over 12 times throughout my life at the tune of about 1,000 a day. Services provided by you guys has helped keep that to a minimum. Long term hospitalization, which is what would happen to me if not for your guys help, would cost more than my rehabilitation. It is the people like you guys and agencies like DVR that not only help the person/people but also in essence cut the cost of care in the mental health field. You guys have saved my life to date and I am sure many others.

Thanks again for your time and effort.

Gwen Steele - VRC, Ladysmith

Thank you for all your help this last year. Things are going great.

Judy Dewane - VRC, Sturgeon Bay

Judy recently hosted a job shadow student from a local high school. The note below was sent from the school district.

Dear Judy,

On behalf of the Door Kewaunee Business & Education Partnership and Sevastopol School District, I would like to express our sincere appreciation and gratitude for your participation in the job shadow program.

We believe strongly in the benefits of exposing area high school students to potential career opportunities in the hopes that they are able to make informed decisions about their futures. We do realize that it would be impossible for us to offer this program without the commitment that you have contributed to this experience. We appreciate the time you took out of your busy schedule.

Joyce Jacobs - VRC, Rice Lake

Thank you for believing in me when I didn't think I'd be able to pass the class or the test. I am so glad you did. I appreciate more than you will ever know. I have never had anybody ever build me up before you. Usually people tore me down, including myself. It sure helps knowing I have someone on my side. I will never forget what you have done for me. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

What's New/Updated on the Web

Staff Updates

New Faces/Transfers:

  • Connie Riemer, Consumer Case Coordinator (Wisconsin Rapids)
  • Caralee Morrison, VR Counselor (Sheboygan / Permanent from LTE)
  • Rebecca Tyler, Consumer Case Coordinator (Baraboo)


  • Rhonda Freitag, Consumer Case Coordinator (WDA 10)
  • Robert White, WDA Director (WDA 11)
  • Kathleen McCormick, VR Counselor (WDA 3)
  • Laurie McLain, VR Counselor (WDA 8)
  • Rick Clark, VR Supervisor (WDA 6)