At the most recent Rangeley Lakes Chamber of Commerce (RCOC) Business After Hours member event held on October 12th at the Outdoor Heritage Museum in Oquossoc, Donna Varney was the guest speaker to discuss School to Work Services.

In response to the ongoing conversation regarding the need for a larger workforce, Amanda Christian, RCOC Executive Director, thought it might be a promising idea to entertain alternative solutions. The School to Work Services is a program that the Rangeley Lakes Chamber of Commerce is considering for a future intern position but also thought area businesses should consider.

From left: Donna Varney from the Maine Dept. of Labor along with RCOC Exec. Dir. Amanda Christian Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

Donna Varney, Rehabilitation Counselor II for the Maine Department of Labor Bureau of Rehabilitation Services Division of Vocational Rehabilitation spoke about the program that provides transitional assistance to students with disabilities and their families.

Applicants who have any documented disability that makes it difficult to get or keep a job are encouraged to apply. Students are encouraged to apply 2 years before their expected high school graduation date so that a plan may worked towards for future employment, but it is not mandatory.

Education after high school may also be pursued provided there is a specific future career that requires it or if it is appropriate for some other reason.

It is suggested that students and their parents/guardians visit www.maine.gov/rehab/dvr/youth_transition.shtml to get a better understanding of the possibilities.

Once matched with the appropriate candidate, the employer and employee also get a Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) counselor to help along the way. A VR might be able to purchase basic equipment, uniforms, or tools, as well as help with payment for any medical or psychological services that may be required.

Employers might finally be able to get the help they need and as a bonus, may even be able to get the funding to pay the wages for the employee. This is a thought well worth entertaining.

For more information about this program, you may visit www.maine.gov/rehab/dvr or call 800 741-2991.

Rangeley Lakes Chamber of Commerce members enjoy pizza and the great setting of the Outdoor Heritage Museum while learning about School to Work Services. Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

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