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Yukon resident overcomes illness, learns a new skill

Rick Richard, of Yukon, was diagnosed with a liver disease in 2011 but has bounced back to learn a new skill and find a new job.
BY BILL KRAMER Published: June 2, 2012
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Rick Richard admits he counts his blessings more than ever before.

In the span of a year and a half, the 44-year-old Yukon resident has undergone chemotherapy, retrained for a new career and accepted a good-paying job.

In the winter of 2011, Richard was diagnosed with a liver disease. The single father faced enormous health uncertainties and financial hardship. He turned to the state Department of Human Services for help.

He wasn't seeking handouts. He wanted to earn his way but didn't know how to make ends meet.

Richard had prior experience working on diesel engines while in the Army reserves in the late 1980s. A DHS employee suggested he consider training in diesel technology at nearby Canadian Valley Technology Center.

Richard was placed in the PIVOT program at the El Reno school until an opening became available in the diesel program. PIVOT provides a structured, supportive environment for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families clients seeking to further their educations.

“I got help getting an internship at U.S. Foods and financial help to pay for gasoline and groceries,” Richard said. “Workforce Oklahoma helped me get some tools to get me started with training.”

When he didn't know where else to turn, he found the help he needed to sustain him until he could get ahead.

Richard walked the stage recently to receive his certificate, having completed the diesel program early, in just over eight months. U.S. Foods wanted him back full-time, and he was hired in early May at an hourly rate of $17, plus full benefits as a diesel technician.

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