Tampa, FL – When an employee is injured on the job, the process of recovering and returning back to work can often be a trying and confusing time. They can feel disconnected from their employer and develop a sense of isolation.
That’s why return-to-work programs, such as ReEmployAbility’s Transition2Work, are so beneficial. Transition2Work places injured employees at local nonprofit organizations across the nation to perform light duty work when their pre-injury employer cannot accommodate their physical restrictions on-site. John Keith’s story is an example of how getting out of the house and contributing to the community plays a huge role in the recovery process.
For the past nine years John worked as a general laborer in a laborer’s union. He was used to continuous arduous work that kept him constantly moving. One day, while on assignment laying pipe, he slipped on wet terrain and tore a disc in his lower back.
Because of his injury, John could not return to his normal position as a laborer. Though he was told his recovery would take a long time, he was soon released to modified duty where he was given instruction not to lift over 20 pounds.
“I started to question my sense of self-worth at times,” he said. “I began to get depressed and withdrawn. It’s like, now where am I going to go? What am I going to do? It took everything I could do to stay positive.”
That is when his company reached out to ReEmployAbility and referred him to the Transition2Work program.
The Transition2Work program placed John at his local American Red Cross chapter in Minnesota. Because of their reputation, he was extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with the Red Cross.
Because John’s injuries only restrict him from lifting over 20 pounds, he is able to do a little more than office work and with his employer’s permission, he is often out in the field participating in the chapter’s Home Fire Campaign (HFC). In this program, John and his team of three other volunteers install smoke detectors to at-risk homes in need. This team has installed over 1,800 smoke detectors, reducing the chance of a home fire death for these families by 25 percent.
John is facing a long recovery, but he said he feels volunteering at the Red Cross has sped the process up. He said that half, if not three-quarters of the process is mental state of mind and doing positive things in the community helps lead to a quicker recovery.
John said volunteering at the Red Cross has changed his life completely. He said he is a “lifer” and plans on volunteering even after he returns back to work. His time at the Red Cross has even impacted those around him. It has inspired his daughter to volunteer as well.
“I can’t be grateful enough for the Transition2Work program,” he said. “I don’t know where I would have been, if you hadn’t placed me with the Red Cross. It only took me about two weeks to start to feel kind of depressed given the whole situation. It wasn’t a week after I joined the Red Cross that I was a brand-new man.”
The Transition2Work program has helped thousands of other injured workers just like John. To date, Transition2Work program participants have provided approximately 6.5 million volunteer hours to local and national nonprofit organizations.