Institute, W.Va. – One award winner said she wouldn’t be where she is today without the services and training provided by the Division of Rehabilitation Services.
Donna Southerly now works as an administrative secretary and receptionist at Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College in Moorefield. Before having gastric bypass surgery, Southerly had spent 20 years unemployed and five years restricted to her home because of immobility issues.
But she traveled more than five hours to Institute to receive the Martinsburg District Ability Works Award, and now says she couldn’t be happier. DRS helped Southerly develop vocational goals and also helped her earn her associate’s degree in science.
Southerly was one of six Ability Works Award winners honored Thursday.
State winner Gary Hefner is a licensed practical nurse at Greenbrier Valley Medical Center, Charleston district winner Dan Clarkson is a protective services worker with the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department, Clarksburg district winner Kalin Hanlan is a hostess at Applebee’s, Wheeling district winner Carolyn Hancock is an accountant at Wheeling Island Racetrack, and Huntington district winner Justin Booth is a pharmacist at Kroger in Logan.
Each winner has a similar experience with overcoming disability to lead a more fulfilling life and they all say it’s because of the training and encouragement they received through the Division of Rehabilitation Services.
Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant was the keynote speaker at the awards ceremony.
“This is an honor to share the stage with these winners,” Tennant said. “The hardships they have overcome would have been enough to defeat a lot of people. But these individuals, with the help of the Division of Rehabilitation Services, have shown that once the decision is made to achieve a goal anything is possible. I congratulate the winners, and I hope each one of them realizes that they are truly worthy of our admiration.”
Tennant was joined Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary of Education and the Arts, and Deborah Lovely, Director of Rehabilitation Services.