Thomas McCartney has a love of the outdoors, especially Morel hunting . He looks forward to it every May around Mother's Day. But while hunting on Mother's Day 2010 Thomas noticed something just didn't seem the same. "I just couldn't explain what it was, but I knew something was different. Something had happened". The next day he went into work but was having difficulty concentrating and functioning. "My boss told me to go to the hospital and that's when I found out the news". The news was that Thomas has suffered a stroke. The stroke impacted his balance, short term memory, physical stamina and communication.
For the next year, Tom attended occupational, physical and speech therapy sessions, worked hard in the recovery process and made significant strides. There were times, however, when the weight of his limitations and hurdles challenged his desire to succeed. Says Thomas, "I remember thinking, how will I ever do what I used to do? How will I ever find a job? There were tough times, but it's not in me to quit. There's no quit in me. That's not what I do". Shortly thereafter Thomas began to search for employment.
The path to employment started in June of 2011 when Tom, a Navy veteran, decided to attend a Veteran's "Stand Down" Picnic that was held in Freeport, Il. While there, Tom met Tammy Gillam, Rehabilitation Case Coordinator, from the Illinois Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS), who referred Tom to the DRS office in Freeport, Il.
Tom started working with Senior Rehabilitation Counselor Nathan De Jong, at the Freeport Field Office. Says Nathan, "I noticed right away that Tom possessed a positive attitude and a strong desire to return to work. The challenge was finding suitable employment that matched his current abilities". Nathan asked Tom to complete a vocational assessment. This assessment would be useful in determining what type of career would be consistent with Tom's physical and cognitive abilities.
After reviewing the information from Tom's assessment, Nathan contacted Rae Ann Miller, manager at Stephenson Nursing Center in Freeport, Il, who he had worked with before. Says Nathan, "I know that Rae Ann desires candidates who are very dependable and reliable, who have a strong work ethic. I knew Tom would be a great match".
Tom applied and was hired for a part time position in the housekeeping department with the goal of transitioning to full time. After some brief job coach assistance through Malcolm Eaton Enterprises Tom has reached that goal. He is now one of the department's best employees, and was recently named Employee of the Month. Says Tom, "that was very emotional, there were tears. I am so glad to be back doing a job I like".
Now that Tom's mobility has improved he looks forward to reconnecting with some of his favorite things; being outdoors, fishing and his favorite hobby, Morel hunting.