Marcus Takes the Lead

Date: 06/21/2018

Rhode Island

Marcus is a LifeShare Rhode Island Vocational Program participant who works at Big Lots stocking the grocery aisle. He was recently offered a promotion because the managers have been thrilled with the hard work that he performs every day. They say that Marcus has been one of the best hires they have ever had and that he shelves the most stock out of everyone in the grocery department. Because of this, Marcus was offered the lead position in grocery. This means Marcus will handle all of the tasks the department has as well as train new employees on how to keep the integrity of the grocery department intact.


Filling a need

LifeShare Rhode Island’s Vocational Services Program started in May 2017 as a response to participants wanting to seek employment opportunities in the community. It began with six individuals and has grown to fourteen and rising.


The program assists participants in gaining skills, experience and knowledge about employment to identify strengths and interests, and to make informed choices regarding employment paths.


LifeShare’s vocational specialist and job coach assist individuals every step of the way by offering a comprehensive progression of vocational services for people of all ability and skill levels. The vocational program includes a variety of services like career exploration, job preparation, job trials or assessments, job development/job searching, on-the-job training, travel training, and job coaching/retention supports.



Three of the initial six participants in Rhode Island have been hired into long-term positions and have received several merit increases allowing them all to earn above the state’s minimum wage. RI program’s success continues to grow and the community partnerships they have created have positive things to say about the program.



Marcus was asked how he feels about the progress he has made in the past year, and responded, “This experience has been good. I worked hard throughout the whole process with Jenn (Jennifer Ciruolo, LifeShare Rhode Island vocational specialist). She helped me figure out what I would like to do and where I would like to work. She has been there every time I needed her, or if I had questions. I am glad that I have this position and look forward to continuing to grow at Big Lots.”


“Marcus started off very nervous about working,” says his LifeShare job coach Nicole Arena. “He has really embraced his responsibilities and strives each and every shift to push harder and get more done. Marcus now embraces learning new tasks, taking on more responsibility, and has become one of the most valued employees in the store. Having a job and a sense of purpose and belonging really helped Marcus break out of his shell. He looks forward to going into work and has made friends at Big Lots.”