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Employee Spotlight: Working to the Beat of Your Own Drum

Matt Riendeau’s 15 years at IBVI have taught him independence

When Matt Riendeau was graduating high school in 2008, he—like many high schoolers—had a plan for how things were going to play out. His cousin, who worked at IBVI, was going to get him a job for a few months before he moved to Minnesota to participate in a 6-9 month intensive independent living training program. Unfortunately for his plans, his insurance wasn’t going to cover the whole training, so he didn’t end up moving. Fortunately for us at IBVI, he’s still working here today, 15 years later!

Matt is a hand assembly worker on our factory floor in our West Allis facility, and has been almost totally blind since birth. He was born without a right eye, and his left eye is smaller than it should be, so he can only see light and some bright colors. Even though it wasn’t initially part of the plan, his time at IBVI has taught him a lot, specifically about independence.

Learning on the Job

“When I started, there were people that helped me get familiar with things, mainly where to go and who to talk to if I needed help,” Matt recalls. “It helped me learn how to do things on my own, but I knew I always had support.” 

He also benefited from the fact that his cousin worked at IBVI already, so he had an understanding of the organization and how it worked. But of course, when you get in the building and you step into your role, you have to make it your own.

Showing Support to Others

Matt also acknowledges the importance of passing along the same support he got to new employees. “When we get new people in now, I do the same thing others did for me, getting them set up for success.”

Although Matt’s cousin doesn’t work at IBVI anymore, Matt has cemented himself as a veteran of the IBVI team, so new employees look up to him, like he did to his cousin and others.

Drumming up His Passions

Matt was previously in a band where he played percussion, specifically bongo and conga drums. Although the band went their separate ways due to COVID and some family commitments, he’s looking to get back into it.

“My house that I live in with my cousin is getting remodeled right now, and when that’s done, I want to get back into music,” he shared. He’s looking to join a new band where he can get an outlet for his unique creative interests.

Building a Future

With his solid foundation of employment and independence, Matt can build the life that he always wanted, even if he didn’t expect it to go this way. “Independence is just about being in control of your future,” he said.

Sometimes you need a leg up to start that journey toward independence, and Matt got that with his cousin and his coworkers, but then he ran with it and became a long-standing part of the IBVI team.

“I can’t believe it’s been 15 years,” he exclaimed. “I’m really glad my cousin got me a job here.”

While things don’t always go as planned, independence can mean making the most of it and building something new. And Matt has done just that in his time at IBVI.


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