A Perfect Fit

Stephen Plambeck of Forreston, IL, has a gift. When it comes to handling and caring for dogs, he is a natural, but finding the opportunity to use this ability to his benefit (and the benefit of our four-legged friends) was a challenge. He is currently putting his powers to good use at the Carlson Canine Camp, a doggy daycare in Freeport, IL, but it took effort to find his calling.

Before working at Carlson Canine Camp, Stephen, like so many others, was seeking direction. Struggling with a severe learning disability, his options seemed limited. He was surviving on Social Security, but sometimes merely surviving is not enough, and a more purposeful existence can push surviving into thriving - especially for an energetic, young man. His mother suggested he contact the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS).

This contact initiated Stephen's work with DRS counselor Dawn Gimple. Dawn's mission was to find Stephen employment he was both interested in and could excel at. In other words, they set out to find the perfect fit.

Dawn began by looking into Stephen's interests and discovered he had an affinity for dogs. When an opportunity arose at Carlson Canine Camp, Dawn saw the potential for success and put Stephen in touch with them.

Stephen had his foot in the door, but it was the patrons of the doggy daycare who opened it the rest of the way. As it turned out, dogs have an affinity for Stephen, too. His natural talent and patience with dogs of all sizes and varieties was readily apparent, and even the shiest animals warmed to him. A person who instills calmness and trust in a situation where the animals are frequently stressed by unfamiliar surroundings is an asset, and Stephen provides this ability with intuitive ease.

Stephen's days are now filled with the daily care of a large number of canines in a professional kennel environment. Beyond the less glamorous aspects of the job that include cleaning and disinfecting enclosures, he is also responsible for feeding, providing medication, and, perhaps most importantly, regularly exercising the animals in a safe environment.

He not only has employment, but he is doing something he genuinely cares about, and has a passion and talent for. Stephen had hurdles to overcome, but with the help of Dawn Gimple and DRS, he was able to find a situation where needs were fulfilled for himself, his employer, and a whole lot of dogs.

The success of Stephen at his new vocation is summed up best by his employer, Jan Carlson, Owner of Carlson Canine Camp. In a letter to Dawn, she wrote, "Thank you so much for the work you do and helping both my business and Stephen to find a way to come together for a great match."


To learn more, call 1-877-761-9780 Voice, 1-866-264-2149 TTY, (312) 957-4881  VP, or read about DRS's Services. Refer yourself or someone else for services using the online Rehabilitation Services Web Referral.