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New, Temporary Community Inclusion Services in Response to COVID-19

New, Temporary Community Inclusion Services in Response to COVID-19

Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS) has partnered with the North Carolina Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (NCDVR) to offer a new service called Community Inclusion. This service was created by the NCDVR in May as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The purpose of the Community Inclusion Service is to provide current individuals whom are supported by Vocational Rehabilitation with a way to navigate new challenges within the community and local employment industry. Recipients are supported by a TVS Employment Specialist through individualized education that is customized to the needs of each individual.

“The biggest benefit of these services is that individuals are able to see how all aspects of life can and do affect employment,” said TVS Employment Specialist Megan Pilley.

The Community Inclusion Service focuses on four main categories, all designed to help an individual adapt to changes in their community or job. These categories include: 1) Job Preparation, 2) Disability Awareness, 3) Health, Safety and Wellness, and 4) Independent Living.

Individuals are able to choose from a wide variety of topics within each category, based on what is most useful to their personal lives. These subcategories cover topics highly relevant to issues surfaced by COVID-19 such as how to conduct a virtual or phone interview and how to access additional resources through telehealth services.

“By awareness being brought to these areas, we expect to see individuals becoming more involved in the community and have confidence regardless of the current lifestyle changes,” Pilley said.

To qualify for the service an individual must have an active case with NCDVR. A NCDVR counselor determines eligibility after a person applies for the service and approved individuals can receive up to 50 hours of inclusion service trainings.

This service is being offered for a limited time and is only expected to remain in effect until the end of the year.

For more information please call your local Vocational Rehabilitation office, Brevard: 828-883-2190 or Hendersonville 828-692-9184.

Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the ADA

Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the ADA

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrated its 30th anniversary on Sunday, July 26 and TVS dedicated this past week to celebrating the law by sharing information through a social campaign on our Facebook page.

The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. It was signed into law by George H.W. Bush in 1990.

This law has paved the path for individuals with disabilities in our workforce.

The week-long social media campaign on Facebook offered key facts about the ADA, quotes from TVS employees reflecting on ‘what the ADA means to them,’ and external links to learn more information.

TVS also had their two social media quotes shared on the SourceAmerica website as part of a collaborative article where multiple NPAs reflected on memories and the importance of ADA over the past 30 years.

We invite you to also read more stories celebrating the ADA at the NC Council on Developmental Disabilities website.

View the full collection of Facebook posts from July 27 – July 31 below!

USDA Food Aid Contract Creates More Jobs at TVS

USDA Food Aid Contract Creates More Jobs at TVS

Brevard, NC (July 27,2020) — Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS) has been awarded another contract from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for packaging instant non-fat dry milk. This will more than double the packaged milk output from the facility.

The USDA is purchasing the dry milk to provide food aid to an expanded list of food banks across the country as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and its impact on the United States and its territories, Guam and Puerto Rico.

“The USDA is working hard to carry out their mission of assisting American farmers and citizens in need. The rise in unemployment due to the pandemic has resulted in an increase of food insecure families and caused a major surge in domestic food aid programs,” said TVS COO, Becky Alderman.

To accommodate this production surge and meet the demand, TVS is hiring more employees on three shifts and increasing the number and speed capabilities of machines packaging the milk. The company is actively recruiting for an estimated 25 job openings, within nine different job categories, including production workers, inventory assistants, sanitation workers, production supervisors, and material handlers.

Click here to read the full PDF or to view the Transylvania Times article.

TVS receives letter of gratitude from U.S. Department of Defense

TVS receives letter of gratitude from U.S. Department of Defense

Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS) received a letter from the U.S. Department of Defense on July 17, expressing gratitude to TVS’ essential workers during the current national emergency.

Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), TVS has remained committed to the production of the more than 20 items in the Mountain Maid product line which are used by chefs in military kitchens worldwide to prepare meals for our troops. TVS takes pride in producing 100% of the annual requirement for pancake mix, from which more than 4 million pancakes are made in one year.

TVS is proud to be feeding our troops, at home or abroad, and is thankful for the hard-working employees who are more than deserving of this acknowledgement as essential workers during these uncertain times.

Please read the official statement of gratitude from the Department of Defense by clicking here.

Welcome to our new website!

Welcome to our new website!

TVS launches new website featuring inclusion, employment and Feeding Our World

Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS) is proud to reveal their new website. The shining points of the site includes; TVS’ manufacturing business that feeds the needy around the world, their Programs and Services that are helping individuals with disabilities live their lives to the fullest, and their partnership with Vocational Rehab to help individuals with barriers to employment find local employment.

It is the 50-year commitment to individuals with disabilities that directed the redesigned the site with accessibility in mind. The font sizes, color schemes, and keyboard controls are just a few of the many accessibility features that are helping to accommodate for people with all abilities, while also being easy to access from any device. The site also features an accessibility widget that offers options such as keyboard commands and a text reader.

To learn more about TVS’s new website read our Website Press Release.

Recognizing Suzanne Byers for 10 years at TVS

Recognizing Suzanne Byers for 10 years at TVS

“Be kind and don’t sweat the small stuff” are the words of wisdom from Suzanne Byers as she reflects back on her decade at Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS). Her 10 years of dedicated service are decorated with glittering smiles, paint, and colored construction paper, as she has assisted with the TVS programs growth into the services we have today.

In 2010, Suzanne Byers was hired as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) to help participants build boxes on the production floor. As the programs have grown and evolved to meet North Carolina standards, so has Suzanne. “When production would be slow, program participants moved into the training room to spend some time on education,” she said. Some of the topics included counting money and eating healthy. They also worked on writing emails to “E-buddies” online.

It was past CEO and Suzanne’s Aunt-in-Law, Nancy Stricker, that suggested that she apply as a DSP in 2010. “It is impossible to believe that 10 years have flown by since she was hired,” said Nancy. “I am so proud of Suzanne. I know she is following her heart and that she will continue the important work she continues to excel in.”

In 2012, Suzanne was promoted to the Activities Coordinator for INTERACT and Life Skills; while also assisting with respite every weekend for three years. She was promoted again in 2017 to her current position as Life Sills supervisor.

Prior to TVS, Suzanne had various jobs, including working at the Boys and Girls Club and as an interim K-12 teacher in Transylvania County. Suzanne attended Brevard College and graduated in 2004 with a double major in Art and English. The following year she achieved her certification in K-12 Education, however Transylvania County Schools did not have any open job positions.

“Her practice of active listening allows her to align regulations and human need together,” Nancy said. “Suzanne’s personal creativity assures that individual participants can do the things they want to do, while experiencing and exploring their interests.”

Suzanne is described by her peers as kind, compassionate, quiet, and an advocate for individuals with disabilities.

“I really appreciate all the good times we have together, Suzanne really builds comradery amongst the team,” said Jonathan Coggins, Life Skills DSP. “She cracks jokes with us and makes us all laugh.”


Outside work, Suzanne can be found spending time with her husband, Sheridan, and their two children; Ellis and Cullen. She loves hiking and running, being in nature, and reading.

“She is a veracious reader,” Nancy said with a laugh. “Therefore, the joke in our family is that you NEVER want to play Trivial Pursuit with her, unless you don’t mind humiliation.”

Suzanne is a member of the TVS book club and has helped organize past TVS events such as group participation in the Brevard Rotary Club 5K runs.

“She is a team player and is always willing to organize larger TVS events,” Program Director Carla Hill said. “She uses art as a medium and our participants respond positively and enjoy this type of self-expression.”

Carla has been Suzanne’s supervisor for the past seven years. “I remember Suzanne helping participants make individual videos that demonstrated a specific area that they were passionate about,” Carla recalls. The project allowed the participants to develop better communication skills, organizational skills, and presentation skills, while also receiving praise from their peers and others in the room.

Suzanne works to help individuals express themselves so that their individuals’ voices are heard.

“From this career, I have become more aware of the different abilities and of the hidden disabilities,” Suzanne said. “People are people, there are no walls built around them like society portrays and you really start to see that when you work with them every day.”

Thinking back on her career at TVS, Suzanne says, “I have more compassion for the person and care less about what people around me think. I am looking forward to continue growing our programs in whatever fluid direction they take.”

Written by Jenifer Welch