West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services Success Story
Newlywed, a college graduate, a responsible worker with Capital Area Service Company, Inc. (CASCl), a home owner, just your typical guy next door. This is how Randy Russell would describe himself without mentioning he uses a wheelchair. When Randy was 17 years old he was in a car wreck and was paralyzed from the waist down. “At I7 years old it’s hard to be told you’ll never walk again,” he says. That was nine years ago. “I’ve taken a lot of strength from the people I’ve met over the years. Other people need to see past the chair.”
Counselor Christine Metheney comments, “There is no comparison from when I first met him to how he is now — he has just grown as a person.” Randy graduated from high school and spent a year at the West Virginia Rehabilitation Center in business education classes. After graduating from Marshall University, Randy looked for work, but says that even though he was qualified, people didn’t seem willing to give him a chance because of his disability. He found employment with CASCI as a customer service representative. Randy offers this advice to employers. “Look beyond what you see. Just because I’m in a wheelchair doesn’t mean I can’t handle the job.”
“Randy’s disability has no effect on his job performance. He’s an excellent customer service representative,” says his current supervisor, Chris Kelly. Randy’s previous supervisor, Amanda Cartmill, adds, “I was a little nervous at first but Randy has let me know about his disability and I’ve educated myself. I’d advise other employers to learn about the disability of a potential worker and learn what the needs are and what the company’s responsibilities are, then just treat the individual the same as you would anyone else. Randy is a great guy to work with. You forget the disability. You don’t see him in a wheelchair after awhile.”
May 10, 2000
Mrs. Carla Sweet
Department of Disability Rehab
Berkley Plaza Shopping center
Martinsburg , West Virginia 25401
Dear Mrs. Sweet:
Thank you for making a dream come true for me. I know it took a lot of hard work in order to get me into Valley College , and I am very
grateful for you. If it would not ob been for the Rehab center I would probably still be in my bed crying, or at East Ridge . East Ridge was a
great help too in getting me ready to start my rehabilitation plan
to get me back on my own.
Divorce, and mother of three I knew I would need to support my
family. I was given 100% disability but, I want more than that in my
life. I would love to be able to be off of all public help and not to
have my hand out asking for someone else to do what I can do for
myself, with a lot of hard work. With wanting that for my life I asked
could I please go back to school to be able to find a job to support
my family. When I went to sign up for school, there was a problem
because my ex-husband filed bankruptcy and so I was unable to
get the loan but Mrs. Carla was not going to give up and she got
me into Valley College .
So to honor her and all the other employees I am doing my best in Accounting. All of the time I could possibly spend is at the college.
I have earned many certificates for my work and for my time, there
is a list of the grades, and attendance records.
Key Boarding 92%
Business Math 97%
Computer Ops. System 95%
Intro to Word 91.1%
Business English/Editing 95.7%
I would just like to thank you again and say that I hope you will
come to see me graduated the end of October. I hope to graduate with honors and find a professional business position after my completion. However, I hope not to end my dream at Valley College , but to
go on and receive a bachelor degree. I am glad that there are
still people like you who still care about others in the world.
Student at Valley College
Nov. 8, 2002
Just a note to express to you my appreciation for all the help and opportunities you have given Stephanie.
I know you have just been doing your job. You have done an excellent job, I could not have asked for more.
She is doing great with Retha and may be back in the day program.
With Sincere Gratitude and Warmest Thanks.
God bless you, John Lutz.
This is the time of the year when we give thanks for every thing we have in our lives. I’m thankful for you being so concerned about me because of your caring and work I have this
wonderful Ramp and lift chair. I feel a lot safer when I walk outside and a little more of ease trying to get out of a chair
Your thought full will always be appreciated and in my prayers.
January 8, 2003
I really appreciate all the help and money I receive. If I didn’t receive the services provided I would not be able to attend school.
Synthia A. Slaughter
January 12, 2003
To Whom It May Concern:
On April 4, 1994 I suffered a traumatic injury to my left hand and wrist. I endured months of pain and suffering as well as uncertainty about my future earning abilities. Until I was
referred to the Division of Rehabilitation, it was through this organization and the services they provided to me that I was able to once again take control and start living my life again.
My first counselor at the Division of rehabilitation was Michael Oliverio. He is the one that approached me about going back to college. This would not have been possible without the financial support of the Division of Rehabilitation. Mr. Oliverio moved on to bigger and better things, but before leaving he placed me with my current counselor Linda Lutman. Together Linda and I forged a plan for me to return to college and get a degree in art. However I not only completed my Bachelors of Fine Arts in Painting but I was also able to complete my Bachelors of Arts with an Emphasis in Art History. I worked very hard to keep my grades up so I would qualify for Pell grants and Higher Education grants as well as working as a work study in
the College of Creative Arts Monday through Friday in addition to working at Super-K-Mart on the weekends. I was able to pay my own tuition because of this, however without the financial support of the Division of Rehabilitation I would not have been able to afford the books and supplies that were needed in order for me to complete my degrees.
It would be a shame if other people with disabilities were not afforded the same chance I was. You will never know until you experience it first hand what it is like to live in a world where at every turn one more thing is being taken away from you simply because you are a person with a disability. I encourage everyone to write to their Congressmen and Senators and ask them to provide funding to the Division of Rehabilitation, so
that others with disabilities will be able to obtain degrees too. After all we are people to and we vote in the elections just like everyone else or does our vote not matter? I give my
permission for this letter to be released to the public. I hope everyone will listen to this message and to do their part to correct the injustice the Federal Government has perpetrated against individuals with disabilities.
Synthia A. Slaughter