Success stories: Jacklyn

Jacklyn McDaniel is an energetic young woman and an enthusiastic grocery sacker at Crest Foods grocery store in Midwest City. She’s also a creative soul, an aspiring writer who spends her free time working on her Disney-inspired fiction project “Snow Rose and the Beast,” and an artist whose illustration was selected for the 2016 Dale Rogers Training Center holiday card.

“I started at Dale Rogers Training Center as a newbie. I didn’t know where to sit, I didn’t know anything. I sat at an empty table and here came Dustin. He said, ‘Hey, what’s your name?’ Then I began to learn, little by little. (DRTC) helped me a lot. I like to work. Working inspires me to work!” Jacklyn says.

From March 2015 to November 2016, Jackie was a part of the Vocational Services Program , and participated in the Crest training program during her time at DRTC. She later sought job assistance through DRTC’s Employment Services Program, landing a job with Crest in 2017, where she shares a nearby home with her parents. Jackie moved to long-term stabilization through DDS until Feb. 2019, when her DRTC case was closed for successful completion. DRTC can/will provide support should Jackie need it in future.

She now confidently earns her own paycheck, doing a job she loves, which allows her to help her parents with bills, which makes her extremely proud. “I’m not going to spend my money on useless things. I like to help my parents.”

Jacklyn’s tasks at work include sacking groceries and helping customers take them to the car, as well as some cleaning and light stocking chores to make sure her area is work-ready. “Shirley, my manager, and about five ladies worked with me every day to be less stressed, focus on the job, and always have a smile on my face,” she says.

Jacklyn holding two paper grocery sacks and looking to her right.
Jacklyn

“Say you want your bags light. I’ll put five, maybe six items in the bag. But if you say very light, I’ll but more like three or four items,” Jacklyn says. “I just learn, little by little. We aren’t stupid, we just have a hard time learning sometimes.”

Jacklyn, like most of us, identifies with what she does for a living, and her work is meaningful. Theresa Flannery, Community Resources and Compliance Director for Dale Rogers Training Center, says that’s exactly as it should be. “Jacklyn is a very young woman. She’s being given the opportunity to think about her life beyond just living with her mom. DRTC gave her the opportunity to do paid work. Crest hired her, and that allows her to keep growing.”

Disability is no longer the kind of barrier it once was. “People aren’t bad, but they sometimes don’t know how to integrate people who are different from them. Without these kinds of opportunities, without Dale Rogers, the only option for people like Jacklyn was to stay home,” Flannery says.

Instead, today, Jacklyn is flourishing, a fact that makes Flannery smile. “What I love about Jacklyn is her independence, her confidence in pushing boundaries, her creativity and her vision. She’s got so many opportunities ahead of her and we’re excited to see her grow.”

Jacklyn smiling while sacking rice at Crest.

Dale Rogers Training Center (DRTC) is the oldest and largest community vocational training and employment center for people with disabilities in Oklahoma. With multiple locations in Oklahoma, DRTC trains or employs approximately 1,000 people with disabilities per year. Visit us online: DRTC.org.

Success stories: Derek

Derek Burton, a sweet-tempered man wearing a green vest covered in patches from around the world given to him by his customers, carefully makes his way into the room. He’s moving a little slower than usual due to a badly-stubbed toe, but his sunny disposition remains intact. His hair is carefully-combed, his clothes neat and pressed. He smiles ear-to-ear and his laugh is easy and frequent.

This is a man who is confident and content. He’d sung in his school choir for years, and after graduating from Classen High School, had worked and attended community college. But in the early 1990s, it was a different story. By then he was a young, single father of two small sons, in a precarious situation. Like most parents, he needed a job so he could support his children. The hitch? Derek has limitations which seriously affect his mobility and ability to stand. But it has never affected his spirit or determination.

He’d worked for a decade at Sears, and during his tenure there had earned his associate’s degree in computer science from Oklahoma City Community College. When Derek heard Sears was closing that store, he felt like a heavy weight had been placed on him. For three years, he desperately sought another job without any success.

Derek smiling at DRTC. He is wearing a vest full of military patches given to him by military personnel.
Derek

He had experience and an impeccable work record, but no one would hire him. That was until one day when his vocational rehabilitation counselor told him about a cashier position for a new Food Service contract set aside for the Dale Rogers Training Center on Tinker Air Force Base through the AbilityOne Program, creating a confluence of circumstances which led to the impossible becoming possible for a man whose biggest dream was to be able to send his sons to college.

Derek applied and was hired on a cold December day in 1992. “I applied, and I got the job,” he says. “Dale Rogers (Training Center) gave me a chance to grow and to believe in myself. Many times, we don’t think we can survive or compete, but we can do more than just suffer with disability. At (DRTC), you become a part of the family, and it gives you confidence.”

Burton’s own family motivates him to do a good job at Tinker. He spends his time away from work determined to return the favor and consistently motivate his now-adult children to also do their best. “I try to teach my sons how to live everyday life and to do the right thing,” Burton said. “That’s my number one goal.”

His naturally-outgoing personality allowed him to treat the young airmen and women, often nervous and away from home for the first time, with fatherly warmth. When they come through his line, he greets them with a smile and asks how they’re doing. “When they first come in, they’re scared and maybe lost a little, so you just grab hold of them and make them feel like they’re part of the family,” he says.

Closeup of Derek's vest showing multiple military patches. Derek's hands are seen holding his cane.On his well-worn green vest is the tangible evidence of how much Derek means to his customers. Patches and emblems cover nearly every inch of it. “Each patch is a gift. I got this red star from a sailor who was headed to Switzerland. He wanted me to have something to remember him by. Tinker was his first station and he said I made him feel like a little brother. That red star started it all,” Derek says.

Today, some 25 years later, Derek and his two sons are thriving, and the dreams of this father have come true. Dakoda, his eldest son, is now in vet school, and younger son Dylan is completing his internship to become a pharmacist.

Dale Rogers Training Center (DRTC) is the oldest and largest community vocational training and employment center for people with disabilities in Oklahoma. With multiple locations in Oklahoma, DRTC trains or employs approximately 1,000 people with disabilities per year. Visit us online: DRTC.org.

“Octopus” provides new work for people with disabilities

Clients at Dale Rogers Training Center (DRTC) are keeping staff and instructors busy with requests to be assigned to the agency’s brand new, $50,000 screen printing machine, affectionately called “The Octopus.” It’s the newest work option at DRTC, which includes subcontracting projects, awards manufacturing and picture frame assembly.

Screen printing is the latest entrepreneurial step designed to further the nonprofit agency’s goal of self-sufficiency. Dale Rogers Training Center, which provides work opportunities for people with disabilities in the Oklahoma City metro, recently purchased a state-of-the-art, eight-station screen printing press.

Closeup of a screen for Camp Tumbleweed t-shirts
Closeup of a screen for Camp Tumbleweed t-shirts.

“The Octopus” features eight rotating stations, with the capability of producing t-shirts, polo shirts, tote bags and other branded items. The new screen printing press was installed with the safety of DRTC’s program participants in mind; it features several auto-off sensors, as well as a safety bar and a foot pedal to advance to the next station. DRTC’s team can produce 200-300 t-shirts per hour!

“Any time we consider a new job, safety is at the forefront of our mind,” said Mark Claunch, DRTC Sales & Business Manager. “With so many moving parts, each person who wants to work in our screen printing area is fully trained in the various components of the machine to ensure a safe working environment for all.”

Dale Rogers Training Center has already filled orders for several entities, including the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, Putnam City Public Schools and Richey’s Grill. For ordering inquiries, please visit DRTC at 2501 N. Utah Ave., Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm, email promosales@drtc.org or call 405-946-1079.Heather holds a t-shirt that just came off the heater at DRTC.

Dale Rogers Training Center (DRTC) is the oldest and largest community vocational training and employment center for people with disabilities in Oklahoma. With multiple locations in Oklahoma, DRTC trains or employs approximately 1,000 people with disabilities per year. Visit us online: DRTC.org.

View DRTC’s screen printing in action at https://youtu.be/YOaqfT42DRg.