Vocational center helps those with disabilities find their place in the workforce

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – In our special report “The R Word,” 9 On Your Side spoke with a special education teacher who emphasized the importance of providing opportunities to those with disabilities and pushing them to accomplish goals.

Amy Craft said it is important to treat them the same way you would others so they can reach their potential and be productive citizens.

The Eastern Carolina Vocational Center is doing just that.

“They want to get a job, they want to work,” ECVC job developer Paula Liggon said. “They are asking for help.”

Liggon helps people with disabilities get jobs every day, whether it is placing them out in the community or on the ECVC work floor.

“We have a lot of in-house jobs that we provide services,” Liggon said. “We pack batteries for the U-S military. Right now we are packing batteries for the firefighters in California.”

One of those employees packing batteries is Paul Bartlett.

“Paul has worked with us several years,” Liggon said. “He is a wonderful, wonderful person who brightens up the world wherever he is.”

“I will work, make some money,” Bartlett said. “Get my family stuff for Christmas, that kind of things.”

He also works at 501 Fresh on Evans Street in Greenville.

He is ECVC’s Employee of the Year.

“I love it,” Bartlett said. “I have fun, I got friends.”

One of his friends is Vicki Brown.

“I enjoy being around other people,” Brown said. “It beats sitting at home all day!”

She has worked at ECVC for over 40 years.

“Some of my responsibilities?” said Vicki Brown, ECVC employee. “Well, coming to work, being on time.”

She tackles those responsibilities daily, despite her blindness.

“Yes I take the bus, I get the bus out here every day, take it home,” Brown said.

Physician Frank Sheldon said people with disabilities may have their own way of communicating.

It may not be the same as most people, but that doesn’t mean they can’t.

“This is no fault of their own and things just happen, but they shouldn’t be ostracized for that,” Sheldon said. “They do understand, their ability to verbalize or respond back varies in some cases.”

Liggon said people with different abilities have the same job and life goals as everyone else.

“Important to value every human life because everybody has something to give,” Liggon said. “Everybody has something that they can contribute that no one else can, so it’s important to value the individual person, not to underestimate what they can give, because they can give sometimes more than you would ever be able to realize.”

This is just one of several groups in the East that supports people with disabilities:

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