Table of Contents


Personnel Actions

Success Stories

Around the State

End Zone


Austin Named Bureau Chief for Client Services

Thomas Austin

Tom Austin is the bureau chief of client services. As a member of the senior management team, he is responsible for the oversight and delivery of client services statewide. He has a M.S. degree in management and organizational leadership, and has more than 15-years of experience in the nonprofit sector-serving people with disabilities from a variety of leadership positions.

Personnel Actions

We welcome our newest employees to the DBS family.

Congratulations to employees who received a promotion.

Success Stoies

I Did It and So Can You

By Joshua Beran, Employment Placement Specialist

Thomas Swenson in front of publix with grocerey cartsThomas Swenson has albinism and his vision is very limited. His grandmother taught him to navigate the bus system and introduced him to her friends in the community. After high school graduation, Thomas found his way to Florida from New Jersey and found work in restaurants. He was content, but sought more interaction with people and a place where he could grow and advance.

When Thomas first met with DBS staff, he was shy and not sure if he could do anything other than wash dishes and work in restaurants. His counselor, Dan O’Connor, and the Vision Education and Rehabilitation Center provided guidance and counseling to help Thomas build confidence and learn a set of marketable skills. He learned independent living skills, to advocate for himself and how to present well for a job. Dan is also visually impaired and shared some of the struggles and successes he had. Thomas then realized that he was not alone with his challenges.

In January 2014, Thomas was ready to compete for jobs using his new skills. With sound guidance, counseling and additional DBS services, he had progressed from a shy and insecure person into a confident, positive, job seeking young man. The job search was hard. Thomas applied at hotels, restaurants, banks, schools and department stores, but never got a call back. One afternoon, Dan and I were at the downtown talking book library and ran into Thomas using one of the libraries accessible computers. We discussed the importance of staying positive and the idea of looking for jobs at grocery stores.

Thomas and I went to the Riverside Publix the next week. He applied for a job and the store manager told him how to follow up after he applies for jobs. Thomas wrote a follow-up thank you letter to manager. Soon after, Thomas called to thank Dan and me and tell us he got the job at Publix. He is happily approaching his seven-month anniversary at Publix. Thomas tells others to, “keep applying” and use him as an inspiration. “I did it and so can you.”

New and Experienced Vendors are Successful

By Janet Chernoff

The Bureau of Business Enterprise (BBE) has been working hard to expand and improve the training program in Florida. BBE accomplished this by placing more emphasis on the recruitment of qualified candidates, the expansion of existing facilities and the development of new facilities. In addition to overseeing the vendors and facilities in their regions, BBE Business Consultants talk to prospective training candidates about the program. Better-qualified applicants enter the training, earn licenses and are awarded a facility.

Jonathon Caudill and Todd Bowen

Energetic, self-confident and responsible are just a few of the adjectives that describe Jonathon Caudill. Licensed in August 2012, BBE awarded him a vending route in Gainesville in August 2013. Jonathan has built the business over the last 12 months and has proved himself as a capable and successful manager.

Todd Bowen’s training and licensing in 1981 consisted of operating a snack bar for five months. Todd went on to operate vending and foodservice in the Tallahassee area and vending at a rest area on I-75 near Live Oak. Currently, Todd operates vending at a rest area near Gainesville. Recently, he took on the challenge of operating a second facility at the Tacachale Center in Gainesville. This is a new facility in BBE. Todd got it started and then he turned over to a recently licensed vendor.

Jonathan and Todd participated and answered questions for the DBS’s Julye administrative staff meeting held in Gainesville. They took on the challenge of operating a vending in the BBE program. The average wait time for new vendors in 2013 was 96 days before starting their first facility.

Around the State

Visually Impaired Persons ribbon cutting

By JoAnn Carrin, Communications Director

Albert Bsales and Lakicia Butler with others at ribbon cutting ceremony

On August 6, the Visually Impaired Persons (VIP) of Charlotte County Center held an open house ribbon cutting ceremony at their Port Charlotte location. The Chambers of Commerce of Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda sponsored the event. VIP officers and board members, county commissioners and many others attended. District 9 Employment Placement Specialist Albert Bsales and Rehabilitation Specialist Lakicia Butler were also in attendance.

Council for the Blind Meeting in October

By Alise Fields, Government & Operations Consultant II

The Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind and the Division of Blind Services will hold a quarterly business meeting and a public forum Oct. 23-24 at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort located at 100 North Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach, Florida. For more details and a copy of the agenda, contact Alise Fields by phone at (850) 245-0392 or email:        

Exceptional Employers

By JoAnn Carrin

Congratulations! I am pleased to announce DBS nominated a record-breaking 18 employers for 2014 Exceptional Employer of Year. DBS joins with Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Agency for Persons with Disabilities to recognize outstanding businesses throughout the state that are committed to employing individuals with disabilities. A nominating committee will chose the employers to recognize at the Oct. 1 awards event in Tallahassee. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The DBS nominates are:

End Zone

Publication and Submission Information

We hope you found this month’s newsletter interesting. Remember, we need your submissions each month. Let us know what’s going on in your district or facility. The publication date for the Visionary newsletter is the first week of each month. The deadline for submissions is the 15th of each month. Comments, suggestions, and submissions should be directed to:

DBS Communications:

Additional useful links and telephone numbers:

To request a Braille version of this edition of the Visionary contact the Braille and Talking Book Library: or call 800-226-6075.

MIS Help Desk:
Phone: 850-245-0360

AWARE Help Desk:
Phone: 850-245-0395 or 866-841-0912

Division of Blind Services website (external):

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