Adversity is a part of life, but sometimes it can be so significant it restricts individuals from living lives for which they are truly capable. Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) representative, Tim Stump, doesn’t see people’s adversities. Instead, Stump sees their potential.
Stump’s approach to help strengthen Arizona by way of inclusion in the state’s workforce is admirable. He connects local employers to job seekers who are experiencing barriers to employment though unique events that have changed the lives of many Arizonans.
He was the brainchild behind the state’s first Autism Job Fair which featured 35 eager employers, all ready to fill positions with people on the Autism spectrum. Stump also heads up the Re-Entry Expo and Job Fairs designed to educate and connect people with criminal backgrounds to hiring employers. Most recently, Stump offered job seekers with disabilities a unique opportunity to market themselves to hiring employers when he flipped the traditional job fair approach at our first Reverse Job Fair.
Stump recently received this year’s Community Service Award at the City of Tempe’s, 29th Annual Mayor’s Disability Awards event. He was recognized for the outstanding services he helps provide to Arizonans with disabilities entering the workforce.
Stump shared his thoughts about receiving the prestigious recognition and what drives him to do this impactful work.
Can you tell me about your history with DES? What brought you here?
I was working for a DES vendor conducting job development for people who have a mental illness and heard of an opening through a supervisor who was looking to hire a vocational rehabilitation counselor. I will have my 10th anniversary in November. I came here when I saw an opportunity to gain more knowledge about vocational rehabilitation.
Why is the work you do so important to you?
I feel that everyone should have the opportunity to have a meaningful career. I had a family member who was mistakenly told she could not work due to a disability.
Being an award recipient at the 29th Annual Mayor’s Disability Awards Celebration is such a huge accomplishment! How do you feel about being recognized at such an esteemed event for your outstanding work?
I am very happy to be recognized for my accomplishments and hope this will open the door for future opportunities to help people obtain employment.
You brought so many rare opportunities to DERS clients, including the agency’s first Reverse Job Fair, the first Autism Job Fair and several Re-Entry Job Fairs. Which event or project are you the most proud of?
I am extremely proud of the Re-Entry Expo series of job fairs for job seekers who have a felony. The number of community organizations that we have managed to bring together and the success we have had in helping job seekers with this barrier has been fantastic.
What special events or projects can we expect to see from you in the future?
The Pathways to Employment event on June 27th at Burton Barr Library will highlight the many ways people can start down the road to a meaningful career including apprenticeships, colleges, tech schools, certifications and short term trainings. The next Re-Entry Expo and Job Fair will be held on May 2, 9am-2pm at Gateway Community College.
What advice would you give to others who are serving persons who have disabilities?
Remember that the work you do with your clients affects not just your client, but their family and friends and can have a positive impact on our whole community, as well.
DES strives to make Arizona stronger by helping its residents reach their full potential, regardless of their circumstances. In DES’s Division of Employment and Rehabilitation Services (DERS) Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), counselors work to help clients with disabilities live as independently as possible. Services like VR help Arizonans with disabilities complete their education and secure fulfilling employment.
For more information about the DES VR program, please visit our Rehabilitation Services page.
By Jillian Seamans