Sedrick Veal is not the same man he was seven years ago when two open heart surgeries, each of which resulted in temporary brain death, took away his eyesight. The desperation that once plagued the Louisiana native has been replaced with purpose. Any feelings of uncertainty have given way to an overwhelming desire to lead and serve others.
Veal’s transformation began the moment he applied for a job at Envision, and his story reinforces the importance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month observed annually in October.
NDEAM raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many contributions made by inclusive workforces. The 2019 theme, “The Right Talent, Right Now,” emphasizes the essential role that people with disabilities play in America’s economic success, especially in an era when historically low unemployment and global competition are creating a high demand for skilled talent.
From the moment he arrived in Wichita, Sedrick knew Envision was the right place for him.
“When I lost my sight, I felt like it was the end of the world because I didn’t know there were jobs for people who are blind,” he said. “That first year, I was completely depressed. I would just sit facing walls, eat and go to bed. Finally, I started to move around and found out about Envision. Once I got here, Envision put the spark back in me. All I could think was, Wow, there is life for people like me!”
For the past three years, Sedrick has looked forward to getting up in the morning and going to work as a bag folder/picker at Envision Industries where he is surrounded by real, authentic people. And now as part of Envision’s Upward Mobility program, he is taking typing classes to refresh his skills and open himself up to new career paths and a possible return to college to become a social worker.
The William L. Hudson BVI Workforce Innovation Center is a major source of inspiration for Sedrick. He continues to be encouraged by what he and his fellow Employee Advisory Group members learned at its 2018 opening.
“The BVI Workforce Innovation Center is an overwhelming opportunity for people who are blind or visually impaired to spread their wings,” he said. “The sky is the limit.”
He’s thankful for the opportunities he’s been given to be part of a team at Envision and go about his job with integrity and enthusiasm. At the end of every day, he always asks himself, “What did I do to help someone today, and what did I say to inspire others?”
He is dedicated to letting others who share his circumstances know—whether it’s his coworkers or people he encounters in the community—that being blind is not the end of life. He firmly believes that by being open to doing something different, people who are visually impaired can be a benefit to the community in ways they never could imagine.
Sedrick can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t committed to helping others. Adopted when he was four years old, he recalls being pushed into life very early. Helping out in his household just became second nature.
His innate spirit of caring made him a natural fit for the EAG. This year, he accepted the offer to become its chair.
“When I found out Envision had a whole committee dedicated to helping other people, I knew it was definitely something I wanted to be part of,” he said. “The EAG is valuable to Envision because it gives employees a voice.”
A self-described “thinker,” Sedrick intends to use his term as chair to share ideas and spur conversations about ways Envision employees at all levels of the organization, from hourly workers to executive team members, can be more visible in the Wichita community. His goal is for all Wichitans to know who Envision employees are and what the organization is about.
“Some people think that because you are blind, you are limited to doing just a few things,” Sedrick said. “But people who are blind are just like everyone else—we have children, go to church, pay bills and have jobs.”
Reprinted with permission from the October 2019 edition of EnSight, Envision’s monthly employee newsletter.
Learn more about Envision at envisionus.com.
Learn more about National Disability Employment Awareness month at www.bitly.com/ndeam19.