Organization gives disabled on-the-job training

- Finding a job while managing a disability can be difficult, but a Bay Area organization is bridging that gap by connecting employers with those looking for jobs. 

Garlon Hodge's is one of Hands-on Educational Services' many success stories. His life took a drastic change when he found out his kidneys were failing. 

"I started feeling this tingling feeling," Garlon explained. "Motions were not the same. Fatigue set in quite a bit."

Between the symptoms taking a toll on his abilities and treatments taking up time, Garlon lost his job.

"I went to dialysis three times a week and it was three or four hours each time I went," Garlon said. "It was very hard to find employment. There was nobody that would ever work with you."

Then he discovered Hands-on Educational Services, a state-funded training program helping people with physical and mental disabilities find jobs in the hospitality industry. The short-term training has long-term benefits for those who need it most.

"We are looking for people interested in working in this industry and have the physical ability and have a great attitude and passion, because really the sky's the limit," Hands-on founder John Ficca said.

Hands-On collaborates with Vocational Rehabilitation and Hyatt Hotels. 

"They are learning from the best in the industry," John said.

Abigail Torres and others spend two weeks in intense hotel kitchen training while getting paid. At the end, the goal is to employ them full-time. 

"This is going on my second week," Abigail said. "It feels very wonderful. I love it here."

The experiences are meaningful and uplifting experience for all involved.

"Our success stories inspire me," John said. "They remind me how important alternative programs are."

Garlon went through the program and got a full-time job working for Hyatt.

"There is always chance to better yourself and if that opportunity is out there, don't sit down and don't wait on it," Garlon said.

Garlon got a kidney transplant and now work's for Hands-On Educational Services. The program has helped more than 1,600 people find jobs.

For more information, visit

Up Next:

Up Next

  • Organization gives disabled on-the-job training
  • Biker turns to bicycles after life-changing accident
  • Bay Area collegiate swimmer encourages kids to get in the water
  • Children's Cancer Center gives families a place to escape
  • What's Right with Tampa Bay: Operation Military Matters
  • Bayou Nature Center connects children with nature
  • Creative writing workshops for kids promote literacy
  • Tampa Bay Heralds of Harmony win big in Vegas
  • Son honor's father's legacy of volunteering
  • Christmas in July benefits young patients