“I knew I would be able to do the things I wanted to accomplish,” Brandon Bures said.
Brandon has been a client of the JVS Career & Employment Contracted Employment Services (CES) program for six years. He currently works as a custodian at the Army Reserve Center in Darien with an AbilityOne contract, which offers employment opportunities to people with disabilities. In addition to his work with CES, Brandon has a full-time night job at a group home for people who are deaf and have a mental illness. He is working both jobs to support his family while studying to complete his degree. He is a full-time student at Northeastern Illinois University where he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work, with plans of getting his master’s soon. Needless to say, Brandon is a hard worker and stays busy.
Growing up, he was the only deaf person in his family, and though he has faced many challenges he has remained determined to prove himself. He attributed his success to learning sign language. He attended Gallaudet University, a private university in Washington D.C. for the deaf and hard of hearing. There he learned American sign language, as well as the culture of being a deaf person and developed his deaf identity.
This spring, Brandon shared his story and represented JCFS Chicago at a Source America Grassroots Advocacy Conference with Marlies Gramann, Associate Vice President of Disability Services. The conference provided advocacy and self-advocacy training for non-profit executives and people with disabilities. They participated together in virtual conferences with representatives from Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworths’ offices, and in meetings with their House representatives. Marlies reported that Brandon presented impactful speeches to his legislators and represented the agency very well. “It was a great opportunity to meet with congressional staffers and to advocate for the AbilityOne Program and inclusivity,” Marlies said.
Brandon shared with the audience that he loves his job as a custodian. “It has really changed my life in a very positive way,” he said. After work, he attends classes and plans on getting his master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling. “My goal is to work in rehabilitative counseling services with other deaf people. I want to utilize my experiences to empower others,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot through my experiences and know I am a very capable person and think I have a lot to offer to others.”
“He told me that he really enjoyed participating in the conference because advocating for the rights of people with disabilities is very important to him,” said Virginia Hopkins, who oversees Brandon in the CES program, and recently recommended him for the Coen Scholarship. “Even though he has a lot on his plate, he works hard and is always upbeat and positive on the job site. I think he will make a great rehabilitation counselor.”
For more information about JVS Career & Employment and the Contracted Employment Services program, visit our website or call 855.275.5237.