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IVRS Helping Build a Business after Injury

When the collapse came, Jack Quick thought his wife was having a stroke.

“I couldn’t even hold a coffee cup,” June Quick recalled last month. “I just felt like spaghetti in my whole body.”

By the time she was wheeled into surgery, Quick was paralyzed, the apparent victim of a neck injury that shattered during treatment, sparking damage to her brain and spinal cord. Over the next seven months, a long line of occupational, physical, and speech therapists paraded through the Quick home to help her relearn how to walk, talk, and even breathe. Roughly 18 months later, she still is weak – still gets headaches, still gets a little wobbly at times, still speaks differently and faces severe limits on how much she can lift.

But today, with the help of Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IVRS) and partner/experts at the Drake University small business accelerator program, June Quick is learning something else: How to run her own company.

As part of its mission to advance the employment of those with disabilities, IVRS recently provided technical support and purchased a trailer for the construction/remodeling business owned by June and Jack Quick.

Yvette Clausen, self-employment counselor for IVRS, said the agency’s Self-Employment Program can provide up to $10,000 in matching funds for equipment to assist Iowans with disabilities in building their own companies. Up to $10,000 more is available for technical assistance such business consultants or legal help to get the form of contracts correct.

Such a program makes sense for people whose disabilities create “periods of incapacitation or accommodations that don’t work well in a traditional workplace setting,” Clausen said. “In those situations, being a business owner can give me a little more autonomy to say, ‘OK, I’m not going to work today.’ ”

The new trailer will help Quick Property Services (a commercial-focused offshoot of Legacy Home and Bath, a contracting business that the couple launched right before the pandemic) get equipment to job sites. The Quicks, like many other IVRS clients, also have been working closely with the Small Business Solution Center at the Evelyn K. Davis Center in Des Moines. They also are part of a 42-company cohort in Drake University’s small business growth accelerator, where they learn about everything from financial coaching to how to pitch investors.

Curtis Baugh, who works with many IVRS clients both through the Evelyn K. Davis and Drake programs, said his goal is the same as Vocational Rehab: to give individuals the tools they need to succeed.

“I see so many successful businesses now,” Baugh said. “You just need to fill in the gaps for them. If you can fill in the gaps, boy, they’re ready to go.”

June Quick is quick to praise all the assistance she has received.

Case workers at IVRS “build mental, emotion, and certainly financial support,” she said. “They just helped rebuild my confidence and my mental status.”

Quick, who for now confines herself to computer work and restocking tools in the trailer, feels grateful to be productive.

“I was very discouraged when people started talking to me about disability,” she said. “I have worked since I was 14 years old… Social Security Disability, to me it was like a stopping point. They let me know that it doesn’t have to be. You can use it as a temporary help to get you back on your feet.”

To learn more about the IVRS Self-Employment program, click here.