Meet the Cast of the
“Working Works” PSA
“Working Works” features four people with acquired disabilities or past injuries, as well as employers and health-care professionals—all sharing the importance of partnering to support people in continuing or returning to work after illness or injury. Meet the cast of the “Working Works” PSA.
Cal Ripken, Jr. and Richie Bancells
Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007, Cal Ripken, Jr. has been called baseball’s “all-time Iron Man.” The former Baltimore Oriole boasts the record for most consecutive games played (2,632). Throughout his illustrious career, Cal was able to “stay in the game” despite occasional injuries thanks to his close partnership with his athletic trainer, Richie Bancells. Today, Cal uses the platform that baseball provided him to help grow the game he loves worldwide. As owner of Ripken Baseball, he owns several minor league clubs and world-class youth baseball facilities. In 2001, he co-founded the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, named in honor of his father, which spearheads a number of development programs for communities and youth, including those with disabilities.
Ish Escobar is a California native who manages Operation IMPACT (Injured Military Pursuing Assisted Career Transition), defense contractor Northrop Grumman’s outreach and recruitment program for wounded warriors. A veteran himself, Ish spent more than seven years in the U.S. Army working in various jobs, including Infantry rifle squad leader. Ish returned from deployment with service-connected disabilities and today uses several workplace accommodations to ensure his success on the job, including noise-cancelling headphones, a sit/stand desk and his service dog, Harley. Ish is grateful to his employer for providing the supports he needed to transition into the civilian workforce. Hired through Operation IMPACT himself, Ish worked in industrial security for Northrop Grumman prior to assuming management of the program, bringing his career with the company full circle. He lives in Virginia with his four children and wife, Dee, who was also hired by Northrop Grumman, which also actively recruits military spouses. “Work is very important to me,” says Ish. “I wanted to be productive, I wanted to provide for my family and I wanted to be able to give back to our community and give back to this great company.”
Bruce Goebel is a third-generation cabinet maker and part owner of Pennsylvania-based Goebelwood Industries, a commercial woodworking business specializing in commercial millwork and custom kitchens. While at work in his shop in February 2018, he experienced a machinery accident that severed his right hand. Following numerous surgeries to reattach it, Bruce faced a long road to recovery and a new normal without full use of his hands, which he considered both his livelihood and his life. Working with his family, physicians, business partners and staff, he returned to work as soon as possible—at first part time and then shortly thereafter full time, modifying his duties to focus on project management and office work. Bruce goes to physical therapy three times a week and says his medical team has been completely vested in his recovery and return to work. “You need the support team,” he says. “Surround yourself with people that believe that you’re going to get back to where you were.”
Chanelle Houston is a research analyst at Social & Scientific Systems (SSS), a public health research firm based in Silver Spring, Maryland, where she has worked since 2008. After being struck and run over by a car while on vacation in Virginia Beach, Virginia in 2009, Chanelle sustained a spinal cord injury that left her paralyzed. With strong support from her SSS colleagues and her health-care team, she returned to work following six months of rehabilitation. Once she was ready to return to work, her health-care team worked with SSS to assess its work space for accessibility and arrange various supports to assist in her transition, such as an automatic door opener to accommodate her wheelchair and an in-office refrigerator and printer to save her long trips down the hallway. Today, when not working, Chanelle mentors other people with spinal cord injuries. She is also an avid swimmer who competed in the 2016 Paralympic trials. Chanelle is passionate about her job and credits it as playing an important role in her recovery. “That was really motivating for me—to get back and do something that I loved,” she says.
Kevin Beverly is Chanelle Houston’s employer. As the president and CEO of Social and Scientific Systems, he leverages his strength and experience in leadership, operations, strategic planning, project management, and sales and marketing. Kevin says his company, which prides itself on its inclusive culture, worked hand-in-hand with Chanelle to facilitate a successful return to work following her injury. “Our ability to continue to employ her meant we had to make some accommodations,” he says. “We made them. It was in the best interest of us, as well as our employee.” Kevin lives in Maryland and has served on the boards of several community and youth-serving organizations.
Christine Crawford is an occupational therapist specializing in adult neurological conditions. She’s an advocate for helping patients meet their employment goals, which she says should be considered from the very first day of therapy. “My first thought is, ‘What are the skills that they need to be able to do to go back to work?,’” she says. Christine believes that work is a core part of our personal identities and that individuals, employers and health-care professionals can work together to help facilitate a person’s return to the workplace. “I think that absolutely everyone is capable of returning to meaningful engagement,” she says. “Every single person has skills to offer and bring to the table.”