Syracuse EOC 1985
Bouncing Back from a Life-Changing Injury
In 1983, Fred Powers was a divorced 29-year-old father of two young boys with a job in restaurant management. A dive into a swimming pool suddenly changed his life forever breaking his neck and turning him into a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down. Even basic issues like housing and transportation became major hurdles.
After undergoing two years of physical therapy and gradually learning to live with his injury, Mr. Powers realized he needed to find a way to start working again. In 1985, he took College Prep classes at the Syracuse EOC. This prepared him to attend the University College of Syracuse University. He graduated in 1991 with a Bachelor’s degree in Personnel and Human Resources from Syracuse University's School of Management.
Mr. Powers recalls, “At the EOC, I proved that I could mentally and physically do the work to attend college. More than brushing up on my skills, I gained the confidence to go on to the next step. I honestly don’t believe that I could have gone right from rehab to college without the EOC. They gave me the same opportunities they give to everyone else.”One of Mr. Powers’ first jobs was working for the Arise Syracuse Center for Independent Living, where he helped other people live with disabilities and reach their personal goals. He eventually became the Associate Director. Today, Mr. Powers is a Human Resources Employee Relations Manager for Wegmans in Syracuse a major food store chain. He interviews and hires job candidates for his store, encouraging the EOC to send him qualified graduates for employment consideration. In addition, he assists employees with benefits and retirement plans, career path advice, and development and training programs. Mr. Powers explains how he finds his job fulfilling, “For me, success is being able to make the work environment a better place to be for customers and co-workers.”