Lenli of Tampa Inc. Is Making a Difference in the Tampa Bay Area
Lenli of Tampa Inc., a wonderful non for profit that provides employment services to people with disabilities in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota, has a mission – to find people competitive stable employment in the community. For more information please visit www.lenlioftampa.org. Here is one of their success stories:
Alone in his home, suddenly the ground began to ferociously shake, the sound thunderous, and his home began falling in on him. It was January 12th 2010 and a 7.0 earthquake was shaking Haiti unlike anything before. As the quake subsided, Alcinor found he was buried in concrete debris, and began trying to pull himself out. The more he tried he realized that his left leg below the knee was completely crushed under the concrete, and he could not get out. After many hours, rescuers found him. Unfortunately, they also could not remove the concrete from atop his leg. His leg had to be removed below the knee by guillotine amputation on site, and he was transferred to a makeshift hospital to be stabilized. It was there he learned that his mother and his young daughter did not survive the quake; the quake claimed 230,000 lives and left at least 1.5 million people homeless.
After two weeks, he was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital where surgeons performed a clean amputation due to extreme infection, and also began treating his acute blood loss, anemia, malnutrition, and liver damage. He barely survived; his bacterial infection was so severe. After two months, he was stable enough to be transferred to a rehab facility. He was fitted with a simple prosthesis, what many have called a “peg leg”. He worked hard on his rehabilitation and Catholic Charities helped him to obtain temporary housing. He found out about Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) though another Haitian friend who was also being helped by Catholic Charities and applied in July of 2012 – it had taken two years to become well enough to attempt to work.
He was assigned to Frances Branch, Sr. VR Counselor at the downtown Tampa office. She helped him to obtain a lifelike prosthesis, and also sent him to an eye surgeon for removal of an object lodged in his eye from the earthquake, which had not been detected. She also provided him with eyeglasses after a vision test showed extreme myopia. During this time she employed the use of a Creole Interpreter as Alcinor had very limited English skills. Ms. Branch referred Alcinor to the CARIBE Refugee Program where he began ESL classes. (His first schooling, as he had never attended school in Haiti.) It took several months of adjustments to the prosthesis, stabilizing his health, and getting his work visas in order before he was referred to Linda Lennox, owner of “Lenli of Tampa, Inc.” for Supported Employment Services. Alcinor wanted to work so badly. It was his one dream.
Linda networked into the business community and found a job for him very quickly, at Mister Car Wash. She also helped him get a Florida I.D. and helped him get an extension on his visa. The General Manager of the business became a wonderful mentor to Alcinor, teaching him how to do his job and also helping him with his English. (Alcinor has also taught his supervisor Creole). He can now carry on a conversation in English. Although it is broken English, he has made great strides in his almost two years with VR. He also now has his own apartment. Linda worked very hard to make sure nothing went wrong with Alcinor’s job placement and adjustments into a new community and work environment.
His supervisor, Jonye has become a natural support and cannot say enough good things about Alcinor. He calls him his best worker and says that he is the first one there every day and the last one to leave. “Alcinor has never complained, always does an outstanding job, and never misses work,” says Jonye. Alcinor says that he loves his job, and he is very proud to have a full time job; his first real job ever.
Alcinor says he cannot thank the United States and Vocational Rehabilitation enough. He is overwhelmingly thankful for all that has been done for him. With his never-ending positive nature and his drive to survive, and to succeed in life, his has truly been a success story.