March 19, 2024

FedEx Employee Credits Supported Employment Services and GVRA Counseling for His Success

Nathan standing in front of a Welcome to FedEx Savannah, GA sign

Nathan Johnson Sr. knew his son, Nathan Johnson Jr., needed professional guidance to shape the direction his life was taking. As a teenager, Nathan had worked as a bagging clerk at a grocery store, but he didn’t feel like the grocery business was a viable career option. “My son had been diagnosed with a mild intellectual and speech disability,” said Johnson. “Because he has a language impediment, I wanted to help him find suitable employment. When I visited our local WorkSource office, they put me in contact with GVRA,” Johnson continued. 

Taking the first step.

After learning about options offered through GVRA, Johnson discussed the possibility of participating in vocational rehabilitation (VR) services with his son. Once he understood the options that were available to him, Nathan, now 22 years old, agreed to seek GVRA services.

In March of 2023, Nathan accompanied his father to the GVRA Statesboro office to complete the VR intake process. His case was assigned to VR Counselor Lisa Jones. “Nathan was very shy, but he was motivated to work. He called weekly to inquire about the status of his psychological evaluation. Once I received his evaluation results, I reached out to Nathan and to his father so together we could create an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). After the plan was established, Nathan could begin receiving GVRA services,” Jones said. 

Moving from applicant to proud employee.

A chance to benefit from supported employment services appealed to Nathan. As a result, Jones referred him to Progressive Abilities, a non-profit that offers supported employment services. Nathan’s case was assigned to Christy Reddick, a supported employment specialist who helped Nathan compose his resume and apply online for open positions.  She also assisted him with his interviewing skills by conducting mock interviews. 

Reddick matched Nathan with a part-time loader position at FedEx Ground in Pooler, Georgia, which is near his father’s home. When Nathan received a call from a FedEx representative asking if he would like to interview, he jumped at the chance. A few weeks later, Nathan was hired by FedEx Ground to work at their distribution center. 

Nathan began working at FedEx in August of 2023. Initially both Jones and Reddick accompanied him to the job site and remained with him throughout his shift to ensure he became comfortable with his new duties. They also wanted to be certain he was communicating clearly with his peers and that he was advocating for himself, key areas of focus for GVRA employment training.

Building confidence and friendships – all in a day’s work.

After completing a 90-day working test, Jones observed that Nathan was forming friendships and appeared comfortable learning new job responsibilities. “Nathan is an excellent employee,” said FedEx Sort Manager Lecrystal Pittman. “He’s been with FedEx Ground since last fall. He works hard.  He shows up every day and is willing to do whatever is asked of him,” she added. “We love having Nathan here,” Pittman noted.      

While Nathan can master the physical aspects of his job, he sometimes needs help with soft skills. “I’m on the job site with Nathan to advocate on his behalf,” Reddick said. “Some days I work side-by-side with him, ensuring he is keeping pace with the rest of his peers on the floor. In fact, during his first four weeks at FedEx, I was present for his shifts from start to finish. The goal of supported employment is for the individual to become independent on the job, so naturally my involvement decreased from 25 hours to 15 hours, then gradually down to 10 hours,” she said.  

Overcoming barriers to achieve success.

Looking to the future, Nathan explained working at FedEx Ground is a good job that allows him to contribute to his household. “But I like watching football and basketball, especially University of Georgia (UGA) football and basketball.  So maybe someday I will work in sports management,” he stated.       

The supported employment services offered by Progressive Abilities will be available to Nathan for the duration of his career with FedEx. Reddick indicated some days she offers guidance to Nathan from the other side of the conveyor.  Occasionally what is necessary for Nathan to succeed is coaching over the phone, she said. As long as he remains employed by FedEx, Reddick will be on standby to help Nathan as needed.

Regarding the quality of services his son received from GVRA, Johnson shared that he is pleased with the counseling, and he appreciates the referral to Progressive Abilities for supported employment. “I’m grateful to the GVRA staff for everything they have done for Nathan. I would wholeheartedly recommend GVRA to parents of exceptional children who are in need of services,” he added. 

Nathan moving a box on a conveyer belt into the back of a FedEx delivery truck


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