ADRS job seeker now helping others realize their work goals

There are many success stories highlighting the impact that the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services and its programs can have on an individual. Renika Baggage, however, provides a look at how the recipient of these services can share his or her experiences to change the lives of others.

Baggage attended the annual Governor’s Job Fair for People with Disabilities in Huntsville this year as a recruiter after attending last year’s event to seek employment.

Baggage, who now serves as an equal employment specialist at the Anniston Army Depot, said she would not be where she is today without the help of ADRS.

Baggage’s journey began in 2008 when she was injured on the job while working at a nursing home. The knee injury she sustained required surgery, and she was placed on disability because she could not meet the lifting requirements at the home.

Baggage, who was determined to return to the workforce, visited a local career center where she was introduced to Vocational Rehabilitation Service staff. An appointment with then VR-Counselor Eddie Albright not only helped her earn her degree from Jacksonville State University, but also sent her down the path to success.

“VR helped me finish school at JSU,” she said. “Once I graduated, Eddie called me and told me about a contract with the Army depot for timekeeping.”

Baggage eventually transitioned to the Alabama Department of Public Health at the Talladega County Health Department and then to the Calhoun County office of the Department of Human Resources as financial support.

Panic attacks, depression, and anxiety again formed roadblocks for Baggage. When her doctor would not release her to return to work, she again contacted VR counselors to help her find a new path.

Birmingham counselors alerted her to the governor’s career fair.

“As soon as I registered, it seemed like (VR) reached out to me the next day,” she said. “They asked me if I would like to go.”

Baggage attended the event with resumes in hand, which she presented to the Veterans Administration (VA), the Social Security Administration, and other agencies. VR circulated her resume as well.

Gunter Air Force Annex, along with the Anniston depot and the VA, offered her a job. After accepting the position in Anniston, Baggage had a chance to return to the fair to share her story of hope through ADRS with others.

“I speak very highly of Vocational Rehab,” she said. “Anyone I know who has a need, I am constantly referring them to Vocational Rehab. I tell them they will take care of them and point them in the right direction of who they need to talk to.”

Baggage said she is still a VR consumer and is forever grateful for the help and advice they have provided.

“I appreciate everyone at Vocational Rehab and the job they do,” she said. “I really respect that. Last year I was here looking for a job, and this year I can actually tell the people who come up to the table to be hopeful because there are opportunities available and employers who are looking for people with disabilities.”

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