Crystal’s Story – Lakeview Center Benefits Call Center Representative, Pensacola, FL

Crystal Shank

While she was a talented artist, Crystal didn’t know what career path to pursue or what job she could do given her disability. One thing she did know was that she wanted independence.

In high school, Crystal consulted with a vocational counselor who referred her to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) to begin the job search, but first she wanted to get her driver’s license so that she could drive to interviews and eventually a job. She passed the written exam, but her dad was still concerned about her safety and wouldn’t allow her to drive just yet. 

The next hurdle was interviews. It seemed that no one was willing to look beyond her disability. It was disheartening because she had a lot to offer if someone would just give her a chance.

Through her determination and continued support from her vocational rehab counselor she learned about Global Connections to Employment On-the-Job Training (OJT) services. This opportunity was just what Crystal needed to be more marketable to potential employers. She met with Ms. Kasic and began the OJT process through an opportunity in Lakeview Center’s Human Resources department. During her training, Crystal was responsible for making employee badges and filing personnel documents. The physical requirements of the position were difficult and she wasn’t sure she’d be able to continue the training. Then the team stepped up to fulfill some simple accommodation needs so that Crystal could physically perform her daily functions with ease. For instance, they provided a small cart to help her move personnel files. Crystal said the reason her training was a success was because her supervisor and co-workers were “awesome.” 

All was going well, but Crystal knew the assignment would end in 90 days. After meeting again with Ms. Kasic Crystal learned that her supervisor wanted to extend her training period another three months. She continued to bond with her co-workers, when the situation evolved into an even better opportunity.

Lakeview Center hired Crystal permanently as an Employment Services Assistant. With a job in place, it was time to return to the driver’s license office. This time, she was required to buy a car that was modified for her needs before she could pass the test and receive a license. She saved up $1,000 for a down payment, bought a car and Vocational Rehabilitation helped her modify it. She then completed the driver’s course and passed with flying colors. As if life couldn’t get any better, Crystal then was presented with yet another opportunity.

Lakeview Center offered her a new role as benefits call center representative, which means she’s responsible for incoming inquiries from a pool of about 2,000 employees. The position is quite different than her old job, but Crystal said she’s excited to learn something new. Now she wants to buy a home and travel. Crystal said none of this would have been possible without the help of GCE. 

“If anyone feels they can’t do it, there is definitely a way,” she said. “You have to find the right people, and I found them at Lakeview Center and GCE. I thank them for the opportunity and for looking past my disability.”