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A Mother’s Love

Non-profit organization needs your donation to keep its mission alive.

“Thank you for your service,” the phrase civilians often use when they encounter military personnel, seems inadequate considering the sacrifices these warriors have made.

Please give lasting thanks by making a donation to Project: Return to Work Inc. (R2W). This national organization honors returning veterans by matching them with employers who need their skills. R2W’s unique approach slashes the job-search timeframe from months or even longer to just minutes compared to services provided by government agencies. Since 1998, R2W has helped thousands of returning vets, military spouses and disabled civilians find jobs commensurate with their skills, aptitudes, and interests.

Founded by former aerospace engineer Rob Brazell, his mother, Fran Nixon, and lifetime mentor, Malcolm D. Crawford, R2W was initially conceived to help people with disabilities. Brazell, who had recently recovered from a terminal illness, decided that “instead of building rockets and satellites I would start R2W to help myself and other disabled people transition back to employment and self-worth.”

Combining Nixon’s human resources and government background and Brazell’s technology prowess, the mother-son team launched the software-driven job search organization 17 years ago and gained a successful track record placing civilians. Brazell’s father, Ray, a WWII Marine, Uncle Floyd and Uncle Dale, a WWII Army Veteran, then helped expand R2W’s mission to include veterans—especially wounded warriors—and their spouses. Nixon, a state-certified vocational rehabilitation counselor in Florida, procured and fulfilled government contracts while Brazell, accompanied by the late Sargent Douglas “Bulldog” Dellinger, gave motivational speeches at military bases, prompting hundreds of injured soldiers to sign up for R2W’s innovative services.

“R2W’s achievements would have been impossible without the devotion of my mother, who not only nursed me back to health during my illness and helped me launch a model business but also came out of retirement to help save it years later”, Brazell says.

Four years ago Nixon, emerged from retirement again when a car accident left Brazell with a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder—injuries identical to those of hundreds of the veterans R2W had served. Nixon has covered many of Brazell’s former duties since his accident, and this proud son credits his mother with keeping R2W afloat during his ongoing rehabilitation. On a personal note, Nixon purchased a puppy for her dog-loving son this Christmas, and she hopes to persuade the breeder to donate a puppy to a returning vet.

“Today R2W is thriving with fewer resources thanks to donated technology tools and bright young volunteers who understand how to use them,” says Brazell. “Without new funds, however, we’re in danger of losing grant money that is crucial to our mission. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation this holiday season.”

 

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In Loving Memory of Malcolm Douglas Crawford

(August 29, 1920 – May 6, 2014)

I am deeply saddened to inform our readers that Malcolm Douglas Crawford, R2W’s Treasurer and my lifelong mentor, passed away on May 6 after a long illness.

It is difficult for me to put into words the profound influence Malcolm Crawford has had upon my life, my career and the founding of R2W. The best place to start is with a brief summary of this extraordinary man’s background and achievements.

Malcolm Crawford was born in Nashville and later studied Economics at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Inspired by the geopolitical events of the era, he enrolled in the newly established Tufts-Harvard Fletcher School of Diplomacy, from which he received an MA in 1944. He then went to Yale Law School, from which he graduated with honors in 1947. He subsequently served as a consular official at the U.S. Embassies in London and Paris, assisting with postwar reconstruction efforts. He spent most of his professional life working as a securities and corporate attorney in Denver, and worked well into his late 80s.

When I was ready to make the leap from “Big Corporation USA” to my own company in the 1980s, Malcolm helped me form my aeronautics business. He taught me everything I know about private stock sales, as well as how to negotiate with multiple partners all vying for control. His generous guidance and counsel added greatly to the success of my aerospace business prior to my being diagnosed with a terminal illness. When I started to get better, Malcolm helped form, manage and operate R2W—including helping to recruit a blue-ribbon board and win our initial government contract. He continued to open doors and make difficult situations effortless for us over the years, never asking for anything in return.

Malcolm’s mentorship transcended private and public business endeavors. We talked about The New Deal, Adolf Hitler, and the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War II. We talked about analogies in today’s world and how he might do things differently. He had a wonderfully reserved sense of humor—smiles and chuckles as opposed to big belly laughs. He was one of America’s greatest statesmen and philanthropists and I was extremely fortunate to have known him.

Malcolm is survived by his beloved wife of 56 years, Sheila Eigeman Crawford, and his five children and seven grandchildren. Please join me in remembering Malcolm Crawford for his gift of friendship, his generosity, kindness and intelligence.

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Just Plain Very Hard – Flash Floods – Boulder, CO

So hard to get the brain around how the recovery will happen since these scenes are repeated over such a broad area along the Front Range (plus the downstream impact as the waters combine on the plains). I’m attaching two photos — one of the church where I was married and where my daughter and I were involved for all of her life and a couple more years before that for me (about 14 years). I’m also attaching a photo of how it looks now. Descriptions sound like soil from the Fourmile Canyon Fire’s burn area came down bringing black water (not “blackwater”), cars, telephone poles, large boulders … and gouged the area to six feet below the former road bed.

I used to live in Boulder Canyon — my own house was not in the 100-year-floodplain but so many were. As you know, rebuilding can’t begin until there is a road to deliver supplies.

It just hurts to think about and I’m not even dealing with any loss. My daughter lives on Capitol Hill and I live next to Highlands (HIGH lands) so … we’re fine since we didn’t have runoff or canyon flashfloods to experience.

I know you’ll like how people will pull together but it’s also a tense time when absolutely everyone is grieving. Very different from when, say, one person’s house burns and everyone chips in to help their situation.

There are also degrees of “survivor guilt” where someone feels they can’t talk about their sadness because they “only” lost the VIEW from their home and someone else lost their HOME. In every case, each person needs to find someone who can listen but often other victims are the only ones who really understand and yet they are coping with their own loss. Recovery is prolonged because of this and it’s just plain very hard.

R2W Headquarters Hit Hard.
Please volunteer online or donate now
100% helps R2W client
15 years in Boulder

Stay tuned for prayer circles and heartening National Guard rescuers near R2W’s offices.

Volunteer For Boulder Emergency

The roads are closed. Still, volunteers from other states are keeping R2W’s operations running. Clients can still login and connect with employers. We’re still conducting counseling services that are more relevant than ever.

We are focusing on helping evacuees transition out of shelters and replacing computer equipment to get key counselors back into the field. We are using R2W’s buddy system to help each other with shelter, food, groovy clothing, a good listener, and a place to call home while figuring out the next step. Recruiting volunteers for the cleanup.

Your help matters more than ever right now. Please GET INVOLVED now.

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R2W Delivers the Right Level of Support to Disabled Job Seekers

By Stefanie Fleisig O’Connor

Project: Return to Work Inc. (R2W) is probably best known for helping U.S. veterans to transition back into civilian society via meaningful employment.  Founded in 1998, the Colorado-based non-profit organization has a solid track record of training and placing service people—including wounded warriors with significant disabilities—to perform jobs that best suit their needs and capabilities.

R2W’s mission transcends the veteran segment, however, to include non-military Americans with varying degrees of disability.  Carol Sarganis, a Naples, FL-based Employment Specialist and job coach who was hired by R2W in 2006, is uniquely qualified to fulfill her role with empathy as well as expertise.

“I have the Limb Girdle form of Muscular Dystrophy, which affects the lower extremities,” Sarganis explains.  “I had trouble walking throughout childhood and I have used a wheelchair since high school.”  Despite her lifelong challenges Sarganis feels that she also has had many opportunities, including being able to serve as a remedial reading specialist at the elementary school level for 28 years.  “I’ve always had an innate desire to help people with disabilities,” she says, “and my teaching experience has helped me be effective for R2W’s clients.”

On R2W’s behalf Sarganis became a certified provider of the Federally-funded Division of Vocational Training (DVR).  In this role she helps disabled job seekers in the Naples area with everything from appropriate dress and hygiene advice to transportation to job interviews.  Her clients fall into three tiers: those with multiple disabilities who require significant job support, people who can perform their jobs with some support, and job seekers who can be independent after the initial training period.

Sarganis has learned to adapt her teaching style, including coaching prospective employees on resume preparation and interview skills, to both the capabilities and limitations of each client.  At times this means gently adjusting expectations.  “I have a client named John who wanted to be an animal trainer, but his disabilities precluded this,” she recalls.   In addition to having a borderline IQ, which makes many tasks too difficult, this client suffers from extremely low self- esteem—a trait that contributed to John’s history of quitting jobs after a short time.

Sarganis realized that John needed an unusually high level of affirmation from an employer, and worked to find the right fit for him.

A job bagging groceries at Publix, a large supermarket chain, was the answer for John.  “Publix has a track record of hiring people with special needs, and his supervisors did a great job training him,” Sarganis says.  “This employer is especially good about validating his work and feelings.”  After nearly three years in a full-time position at Publix, Sarganis considers John a success story.

R2W client Pete’s limitations are similar to John’s, but he couldn’t be more different in temperament and attitude.  “He’s outgoing and very self-confident, which is wonderful,” explains Sarganis, “but his extreme chattiness was hurting his employment chances.”  She worked with Pete to build a resume—something she does with every client—and also taught him to curb his loquaciousness, a decidedly more unusual task.  “We’re still working on it,” she says with a laugh.  Having served as a grocery bagger at Winn Dixie since 2010, Pete is now training to become a stock boy.  Sarganis has gotten to know Pete’s family and she notes that his parents, like the vast majority of clients’ parents, strive to help their child become as independent as possible.

Sarganis also has had success placing people who require far less support.  In the case of Michael, who suffered a stroke in his 40s that left him paralyzed on one side, the bulk of her job was providing logistics.  R2W got the ball rolling by helping to prepare a resume and line up interviews and transportation, and Michael ran with it, impressing his prospective employer so much that he was hired on the spot as a security guard in a gated community. “He was extremely proactive and had a great attitude,” Sarganis says.  Michael has served in this job for around three years.

Whether a job seeker needs heavy support during and after the employment process or, like Michael, is able to move forward without much contact after placement, R2W is equipped to deliver the appropriate level of help for people who want to be gainfully employed despite their limitations.