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Tampa Bay Times

This Tampa Bay business has helped thousands of employees get back to work

By Rebecca Liebson,

Sherri Tillman, an account manager, works at her desk at ReEmployAbility on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, in Brandon. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]

No company wants to see its workers get hurt on the job. Unfortunately, accidents happen.

Private employers reported 2.6 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2021, according to the most recent data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Though many workers need to take time off to recover, “Staying home after an accident can make you crazy,” said Luiz Guimaraes-Pacheco, who works as a painter for a company in Clearwater.

Last April, Guimaraes-Pacheco fell 12 feet from a ladder while at work. He underwent two major surgeries and needed to use a walker for three months after.

By July, he still hadn’t fully healed, but doing nothing all day was starting to get to him. That’s when Brandon-based company ReEmployAbility stepped in.

ReEmployAbility worked with Guimaraes-Pacheco’s employer to find him a temporary assignment that would allow him to earn his normal salary without risking his health. Instead of the manual labor he was used to, Guimaraes-Pacheco spent five months volunteering at Metropolitan Ministries, a non-profit assisting homeless and low-income families in Tampa Bay.
A group of volunteers at Habitat for Humanity. Habitat is one of thousands of non-profits that ReEmployAbility partners with to give injured workers temporary jobs. [ ReEmployAbility ]

“It felt good to help people who needed it,” he said.

Since 2003, ReEmployAbility has helped thousands of injured workers across the country make a smooth transition back into the workplace. The workers get a renewed sense of purpose, the non-profits get an extra set of helping hands and the companies can cut back on worker’s compensation claims.

“It’s a win, win, win,” said CEO Debra Livingston.
From left to right, Crystal Hundley, Human Resources Director, Debra Livingston, CEO, Rebecca Dearth, COO, pose for a photo at ReEmployAbility on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, in Brandon. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]

Like many entrepreneurs, Livingston admits that she initially went into business to make money and to be her own boss. But she quickly realized the potential she had to change the lives of her clients as well as her own employees.

In recent years, her company has started to place a special emphasis on professional and personal development for employees. There are regular training sessions ranging from financial planning to resumé writing workshops.

“Wherever they are in their lives, we really want to support our people in achieving their goals,” said Crystal Hundley, ReEmployAbility’s human resources director.
Lindsey Silvernail, an administrative team lead, works at her desk at ReEmployAbility on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, in Brandon. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]

It’s that kind of support that makes ReEmployAbility a special place to work, said administrative team lead, Lindsey Silvernail.

Before she started working for the company in 2017, she worked at a call center.

“They were only focused on output,” she said. “Here they treat you like a human, not just a number.”

• • •

ReEmployAbility Inc.

Location: Brandon

Employees: 83


Employee comments: “I have never been so well taken care of by an employer EVER. They treat you as a whole person, baggage and all, the moment you walk through the door. I feel respected for my ideas and contributions.”

“I feel like I’m making a difference in a positive way.”

“ReEmployAbility allows me to grow and explore new ideas and innovations without tethering me to an old or outdated way. I know that what I do has a great impact on the company, which in turn helps a lot of people.”

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