The pandemic has certainly forced everyone to do things differently. In February, people were thinking that this might last a couple months. By April, the only certainty was that there was no end in sight. The crisis caused businesses to close and the travel industry to come to a halt. May showed some promise, but Memorial Day activities created another spike in infections. Like many businesses, Rehab Agencies were serving their clients remotely and Community Service Providers were doing as much as they could do, albeit virtually. But how much can you do when everybody is sheltering in place and there are no employers hiring the clients that we serve?
The summer months began to show some promise. Some of the essential businesses were hiring, and it provided some opportunities for employment. Although our Hyatt partners are still struggling, many of our business partners started opening up their doors, and hosting our Vocational Explorations students. Hillsborough County, Caspers Company, A-Ability Medical, Mastro Subaru, Tampa Bay Vets Animal Hospital, and other local businesses were like the Calvary, coming to save the day. VR Counselors and Technicians were processing referrals and doing whatever they could do to provide services that would benefit their clients. The Rehab Community was coming together, and everyone was focused on our mission. Are we back to Pre-Covid Normal? Not even close. But there are signs that there is light at the end of this very dark tunnel.
As we push forward, we must try to stay positive and take solace knowing that we are not alone. Let us be kind to one another, and thank the essential workers for their service and the sacrifices they are making for the common good. Many people may want to put 2020 behind them, but we still have three months left in this calendar year. I suggest that we continue to make the best of a bad situation, and focus on the people that we proudly serve. Individuals with disabilities are counting on us to help remove barriers to employment. So let us hold our heads high and march on to a different beat on a different drum. And remind ourselves that Different does not mean Deficient.
John Ficca, Director