Working Together to Create Jobs

Working Together to Create Jobs

Rufus is instantly recognizable at Bobby Dodd Institute (BDI) because of his beaming smile. A friendly and familiar face around BDI’s Robert J. Freeman campus in Atlanta, Rufus has worked for over a year now as a customer service representative for the J & B Medical Supply call center, a Bobby Dodd Enterprises (BDE) social enterprise.

“After working in the call center for more than a year, I am seasoned at customer service,” Rufus reflects. “I can apply that experience going forward to anything that I do. Now I feel confident that I can go out and face the world and pursue new opportunities.”

Rufus didn’t always have such a positive outlook. When he retired after serving twenty-one years in the army, Rufus struggled with multiple disabilities he had acquired during service, which prevented him from pursuing a post-military career. Years of lugging around heavy rucksacks on his back had left Rufus with a herniated disc and tendonitis in his knees.He was in significant physical pain, while also navigating the frustrations of scheduling and financing regular doctor’s visits to get epidural steroid injections and other treatments.

After four years passed, Rufus finally had the physical stamina to start a new career. However, he faced judgment from potential employers, who hesitated to hire him because of his period of unemployment.

“It was very hard to find a job after being out of the workforce for four years,” Rufus recalls. “A lot of places didn’t want to hire me because of the break I had. That was very disappointing.”

With his confidence dwindling and prospects slim, Rufus took on a few different security jobs. However, when his employer went out of business, he felt like he was back at square one. He reached out to the Veterans’ Administration (VA) and Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA) for help, and they connected him to BDI’s job training program in Jonesboro.

BDI presented Rufus with an opportunity to regain faith in his abilities and skills. He worked on rebuilding his physical strength, including his hand-eye coordination, and he practiced accomplishing job-related tasks quickly and efficiently. Computer classes helped him become more comfortable with Microsoft Office and other programs. He also became comfortable communicating with people again.

“At BDI, I was able to rebuild my confidence and self-esteem,” Rufus says. “BDI trained me in everything I needed to know about getting back into the workforce.”

After completing BDI’s job training program, Rufus resumed the job search process. After a few months, a recruiter at BDI reached out to Rufus about a position in the J & B call center, located at BDI’s Atlanta campus. When he accepted a job offer to join the team as a customer service representative, Rufus admits he felt trepidation because he had never worked in a call center before.

However, Rufus believes his training at BDI prepared him to accept the challenge of a new position: “The confidence I gained through my training kept me going. When I got here, it was seamless. The computer skills and training I got in BDI’s program all fell in place when I started my job.”

Rufus praises his supervisor, Cass Johnson, for helping him build confidence in a call center environment and encouraging him tolearn from his mistakeswhile he adjusted to the new position. With Cass’s guidance, Rufus gained a big picture understanding of how his role as a customer service representative fit into J & B’s overall company values and operations.

Eventually, Rufus took on more responsibility at the call center. He transitioned from being a regular intake team member to joining the Blue Care Network Insurance team for the state of Michigan. In his new role, Rufus verifies insurance eligibility for patients in the state of Michigan who need diabetic supplies; he also confirms their orders and sets up new accounts.

Excellent customer service is vital to Rufus’s success working at the call center, and he credits BDI’s training program with preparing him to be successful in a customer service role:

“My biggest accomplishment working at the J & B call center has been learning people’s needs and how I can help them overcome their disabilities. As a customer service representative, I am nice and courteous and approach my work with a positive attitude. Patients really thank me for listening to them and helping meet their needs. So learning how to communicate in BDI’s programs was very important to doing my job.”

Rufus exemplifies the “mission-driven, purpose-filled” attitude that J & B’s Executive Vice President, Stephen Shaya, M.D., says the company looks for in potential employees. In order to staff their call centers with people “of the highest character and integrity,” J & B hired BDE to identify, hire, and train the best customer service representatives.

“A lot of people talk about financial capital or intellectual capital, but human capital is an absolute critical pillar to building a world-class company. Working with BDE, we’ve been able to overcome many of our obstacles to finding world-class people,” Shaya said.

He adds that hiring veterans to staff the call center has generated enormous goodwill among J & B customers: “A lot of the folks we’re serving in the call center are veterans—or have served in some capacity—so the fact that veterans are taking care of veterans in a lot of cases has been unbelievable for our company.”

For Rufus, the opportunity to help other veterans at work each day is a privilege; it’s what motivates him to get out of bed early each morning and make a long commute into Atlanta.

“I look forward to going to work,” Rufus says, “because I know I get to help others who have disabilities, and I can contribute to helping them get better and manage their illnesses. BDE has given me the chance to help somebody else, just like BDI helped me.”

J & B Medical Supply

Ability One Georgia Enterprises United Way