Success Stories

In just a little more than a year, Lorenzo Villagomez went from struggling with tasks at his job to a model employee now charged with training new hires.

Lorenzo, 21, works as a dietary aide at Regency Village Retirement and Assisted Living Community in Prineville.

His duties include taking food orders from residents, serving meals, washing dishes, busing tables and more.

Lorenzo at Regency Village Retirement and Assisted Living Community in Prineville

Youth Transition Program (YTP) Specialists Ramona McCallister and Patty Bates developed the job for Lorenzo. When Lorenzo first started at Regency Village, he struggled with taking resident’s orders due to limited writing skills. YTP, along with Cortney Gibson, I/DD Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, stepped in, along with the assistance of Kari Clark, owner of Central Oregon Employment Solutions.

The YTP Specialists and Cortney figured out a system where Lorenzo could input residents’ orders into his phone. VR purchased a wireless printer where the orders from Lorenzo’s phone would print out to the kitchen.

Kari stepped in as a job coach to help Lorenzo learn the new system, as well as break down his tasks and be successful. Lorenzo’s supervisor, Sara Ridenour, said that Lorenzo now trains all new dietary aides hired at Regency. 

“Yes, he is that good,” Sara said, smiling. “He is thorough. He does everything just right and that’s why he is great at training others. And the residents just love him and his smile.”

Lorenzo had the drive to succeed and loves his job. He just needed a few tools and some support to help him learn the job in his own way.

“We really worked on taking out extra steps in between tasks so his speed would increase,” Kari said. “We worked on learning the temperature gauge and checking the pH levels.”

Lorenzo works as a dietary aide

Kari worked every day with Lorenzo for months to help him stabilize on the job. Lorenzo also put in the hard work to succeed.

“I really like all the residents,” Lorenzo said, smiling shyly. “They are really nice and respect me. I really wanted to keep working here.”

Lorenzo works 20-28 hours per week now. With his earnings, he is able to buy clothes and also help out his family.

“I bought my mom a necklace for Christmas that she really wanted,” he said proudly. “I was able to do that for her.”

Now Lorenzo’s job coaching has faded as he has the tools for success. Kari and Cortney are happy that they were able to give Lorenzo the supports he needed to not just maintain his job but thrive and become a star employee.

“These supports were essential at the beginning,” Sara said. “As an employer, I would encourage others to consider hiring people with disabilities. You never know. You may end up with someone Lorenzo who puts everything into his work and lifts up the entire team.”

Lorenzo’s employment team includes: Cortney Gibson, I/DD VR Counselor; Kari Clark, job coach and owner of Central Oregon Employment Solutions; YTP Specialists Ramona McCallister and Patty Bates developed the job; Diana Ellis, service coordinator with Crook County; and Jill Hannemann with Abilitree/Work Incentives Network provided benefits counseling.


View a slideshow of Lorenzo at work.