By: Tori Harris
As one of the largest employers in Northeast Florida, VyStar Credit Union is passionate about doing its part to make the world around us more equitable for all. The VyStar Visionary Employment Program (VVEP) puts that passion into action and ensures the aspirations we have for the communities we serve are seen in our organization.
Through partnerships with nonprofits like The Arc Jacksonville and Operation New Hope, we provide career opportunities to people from different backgrounds, including those who have intellectual and developmental differences (IDD), have been incarcerated or are facing difficult circumstances at their current stage in life. Unlike traditional hiring processes, VVEP strategically focuses on the inclusion of job training, case management and life coaching. It also provides those who have been underserved in the community with more opportunities to showcase their talents, increase their skills and explore their potential.
We have gained four extraordinary employees through this program. Two of our employees, Robbie Culliton and Kelly Suddath, were hired through The Arc Jacksonville and currently work at the VyStar Tower downtown. Robbie works as our Tower Host and Kelly as a Mailroom Clerk. Russell Baker was hired through Operation New Hope and Shelton Owens was hired through Catholic Charities. They work on-site and travel to branches as Facilities Support Technicians. The unique talents and contributions of Robbie, Kelly, Russell and Shelton continue to prove the program’s value.
The program’s success has been reinforced by similar initiatives happening right in our neighborhood, including the 20 in 20 pledge launched last year by the JAX Chamber and Connectable. 20 in 20 was created to inspire more organizations like VyStar to hire an individual with IDD in 2020. As a supporter of this campaign, we are excited to take part in Connectable’s Shopability Saturday — a citywide event held March 6 that will recognize more than 150 businesses across Jacksonville that prioritize eliminating barriers and providing opportunities for all.
We are proud to be a part of a community that embraces people from all backgrounds and builds them up to create a more inclusive world for everyone. Through VVEP, we will continue to propel this initiative forward and promote equity and inclusion in all forms.
The content provided in this blog consists of the opinions and ideas of the author alone and should be used for informational purposes only. VyStar Credit Union disclaims any liability for decisions you make based on the information provided.