Since 2018, Tobie Albrecht has been as the Coordinator for Brain Injury Services at MERS Goodwill’s Lippman Center, working with clients recovering from traumatic brain injuries who are seeking to re-enter the workforce. With a passion for helping people learn new skills, build upon existing ones, and find long-term success after their injuries, Tobie loves how hands-on her position is and how she can truly get to know clients and their families in order to best be able to serve them.
Tobie understands that each of her clients are going to have individualized needs and challenges. The process of assessing and forming a plan with a client involves mock interviewing, resume workshopping, and conversations about a client’s access to resources such as transportation and which available jobs may be close in proximity to their home, as driving can often be an activity unavailable to people with brain injuries. Taking into account what the client’s career was prior to their injury and whether that same career is feasible during and after their recovery, Tobie is able to work with them to prepare job materials, work on skills, and gather practical options. “It’s so important to meet clients where they’re currently at,” says Tobie. “We’ll go back to the drawing board as many times as we need to make them successful in a position they love.”
The COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it had on workplaces was a hurdle that Tobie and her clients adapted to together. Clients can range from stroke survivors to individuals who have experienced motor accidents or violent crimes, meaning that they can be higher risk for serious illness if exposed to coronavirus. With valid concerns about program clients being out and about in the workplace amid the pandemic, Tobie focused on advocating for clients to receive leave from their jobs, with partnering employers being very understanding and in many cases, instating paid leave for clients until it would be safer for them to return to work.
“There can be so much anxiety attached to the job search experience for someone with a brain injury,” says Tobie. Many people recovering from a brain injury can experience memory issues as a result of their initial incident and this can trigger feelings of frustration, especially if they aren’t able to re-enter the field they were working in prior to their injury. With Tobie by their side to navigate new challenges, clients will typically find stable employment within 2-3 weeks of searching and often call Tobie to check in and give updates on their success!
During the Brain Injury Association of Missouri’s annual statewide conference from October 7th to October 9th, Tobie was awarded the Bill Buell Memorial Award in recognition of her outstanding dedication to her clients and their continued success. The yearly award honors a Vocational Rehabilitation or Care Manager who has provided above-and-beyond service to the brain injury community and this year, no one exemplifies those values like Tobie Albrecht!