Right Place at the Right Time
by Robbie Arrington, Career & Recovery Resources
lives in Houston, Texas. In March 1985 he hurt his lower back while
at work. Since he was only 33 when it happened, Alfonso believed
he would fully recover a couple months after his surgery. But he
was wrong. Two years later, he injured his back again while on the
job. This meant Alfonso had to undergo two more back surgeries within
one year. He was out of the workforce for a year and a half. The
second and third surgeries left metal rods and screws in his lower
back. Alfonso was unable to walk, sit or stand for long periods
of time. He was taking medication to handle the extreme pain.
to recovery was not easy. While recovering I was going through a
divorce, was homeless, was without my three children, and had no
means of supporting myself. It was a low point in my life," said
Alfonso. He added, "I was forced to live with family and friends
while doctors tried to wean me off the pain medicine I had become
dependent on. With a lot of faith in God, and my church, I was able
to overcome these hardships and finish recovering."
recovery, Alfonso began searching for employment. He went to the
Houston Center for Independent Living, the Department of Veterans
Affairs, and Career and Recovery Resources (CRR) for guidance.
say you have to be at the right place at the right time, well, I
was. The staff at CRR steered me toward a clerical position, knowing
I would not be able to do manual labor due to mobility limitations.
After three months of administrative training, searching through
stacks of job descriptions and faxing my resume to potential employers,
I got a job. The application cut off date for the volunteer coordinator
position I wanted had past a few days before I saw the listing.
CRR staff people encouraged me to fax my resume anyway, and it worked.
Three days later I was in the Interfaith Ministries for Greater
Houston (IMGH) offices for an interview. A week after that I was
Alfonso started work with IMGH, he was deemed Volunteer of the
Year by Thomas Jefferson Elementary, Star Client of the
Year by Career and Recovery, Inc. (PWI) and received a Proclamation
from the City of Houston Mayor's Office. Alfonso also served as
President of the Houston Chapter of the National Hispanic Council