Your Rich VR Heritage Brief #12: VR Valentines Edition - VR's Spark leads to a Sparkling Enterprise Thriving Today
Happy Friday Team VR!
Valentine’s day often summons thoughts of love, (com)passion, chocolates-- and jewelry. Today’s special edition has most of those elements as presented through the story of two of NC DVR’s past success stories that are inter-related. If you wish to round this out and enhance your reading pleasure, consider partaking in the pleasure of savoring some chocolate. One rehabilitant’s success created a platform to allow re-investing in the success of another. This individual was also honored by the Governor of North Carolina at some point in this progression. Another important point is the lasting power that the investment that NC DVRS made in a young gentleman, Lloyd Collier Sr., who at least sent him to Spencer School of Watchmaking in Spencer, NC. According to the linked article, this school was heavily utilized by NC DVRS at some point in its past.
Lloyd Collier Sr., whose story is featured below, used the Spark provided by VR to ignite his sparkling legacy in jewelry that continues today as a successful jewelry store in Whiteville, NC with $1.8 Million in annual revenue (14 employees). One of those career employees for 56 years was his son, Lloyd Collier Jr., who recently passed away March 16, 2016.
We wish to point out that according to the article below, Lloyd Collier Sr. was a youth who successfully transitioned into employment through effective introduction to VR services—not a new concept at all but something we continually strive to improve!
Lloyd Collier Sr.’s story is followed by another great presentation about another individual named Cedric who became employed by Mr. Collier, who had compassion on his fellow rehabilitant and loaned him $500 at some point to become self-sufficient through the establishment of another jewelry operation in Elizabethtown, NC. I could not determine that this jewelry store remains in business. Probably transferred ownership years ago.
Lloyd Collier’s Success Story from REACH July-August 1954 edition:
Lloyd Collier’s Recognition by Governor Hodges featured in Nov-Dec 1955 REACH Issue:
The following success story from the March-April 1956 REACH issue is of a gentleman Cedric, who also became self-sufficient as a benefactor of VR services, then Lloyd’s success and friendship: VR’s “spark” lights a spreading fire of success.
This concludes this special Valentine’s edition. Don’t forget to remember your loved ones, and perhaps renew your love of this profession. We hope this has provoked some introspection and an important reminder that you/your team and its (com)passion are the true basis of the “VR Spark” that can ignite a legacy of success!
Your Rich VR Heritage Brief #11: The Quest of Individuals With Disabilities-- Gains made but Goals Not Yet Achieved
Happy Friday!—where’d the week go?!?
This week’s brief will tie in the history of the national disability rights efforts with some highlights of the efforts that NC DVRS (and NCRA) have made toward addressing architectural and employment barriers. I simply am not doing this topic justice within this brief, so a more exhaustive review of the NC efforts will most likely surface in future briefs.
I want to thank several of those who share an appreciation of our history for sending an incredible link that presents history of the ADA and disability rights movement. If you were not fortunate enough to have been notified of this, I saved it here to share with you. It was featured from this Google Search launch site:
An interesting note is that it begins with featuring highlights of the life of yet another heroic individual, Ed Roberts, who was a polio survivor and heroic like others featured in these briefs. Against all odds, he survived, became educated following advocating for improved disability services at UC Berkley and formed a historic and nationally impactful Center for Independent Living.
I believe our former director Linda Harrington had spent an early period of her career at the same center. I do wish to point out that even in the presentation near the end, there is a NC DVRS and NCATP connection. There is a photo of one of the individuals that our agency has assisted and has been featured in NCATP’s award-winning video called “An Accessible Life—A Short Film.” The film was featured at the GREAT conference in Greenville a few years ago.
She and her parents are very active in the community and were also recently assisting with this past year’s Santa’s Hackers event. She has taken an interest in advocacy and participated in a Washington, DC internship with some of the disability advocacy legends. This apparently is a photograph that captured that moment. Maybe she will boldly carry on “the quest!”
Returning to NCDVR’s heritage and longstanding tradition of advocating for physical access and equal access to employment opportunities, I have discovered the following notable items featured next. I learned that NCRA had a committee to address architectural barriers, when very few property owners even thought their properties might happen to exclude some important members of society. NCRA currently has a commission to address client’s rights and access. Many of the projects have been financial support for increasing access to recreational opportunities or improving other resources used heavily by individuals with disabilities. May the past work of Grady and others inspire us as we move forward over the course of “the quest.”
From a 1972 NC DVRS REACH issue:
Also from a Nov-Dec 1972 REACH issue--there is additional documentation of NC DVRS’ advocacy work for improved building codes and architectural barrier removal. For additional documentation of the respectful work of our predecessors, please review the tribute to John Dalrymple: Independent Living Crusader in Brief #8. Individuals who physically could not access government and community resources, their homes or communities at large could not begin to consider accessing employment opportunities. DVRS counselors and staff did whatever it took to be the “voice of the voiceless” of that era.
From the Nov-Dec 1972 REACH issue:
Also the Ed Roberts-ADA presentation highlights the accessibility of the campus of UC-Berkley during that era. Notably, North Carolina and NC DVRS were also on that cutting edge with their approach to improving campuses and campus facilities for those with the most significant physical disabilities. Many of our counselors from Laurinburg office (Denise Mckoy, Bill Gurkin) and Lumberton UM (Sandra Britt) (and I who served the students there technologically) can attest to the wonderful opportunities that these students had to participate in a university education at St. Andrews College. It had a national draw for such students at its peak period. Here is a historical snippet featuring the initial excitement of this offering:
The wonderful change in this educational setting accessibility improvement we recognize as greatly improved is partially the result of the Americans with Disabilities Act Title II which helped reinforce the legal requirements that schools, universities were to be architecturally and programmatically accessible. Disability services departments are currently common and well developed on campuses, which has made our work in that area less challenging. This part of “the quest” has made considerable strides. As a gage--remember our gentleman “The Judge” from Brief #9 who had to overturn the UNC-CH decision denying him admission to their undergraduate academic program due to his blindness?
What appears to be that difficult, slippery part of the hill climb to achieve the zenith of “the quest” is the EMPLOYMENT COMPONENT. Again, representatives and former directors (Claude Myer) is shown beside NC Governor Scott of the era promoting the employment of individuals with disabilities. This was the pre-ADA era—NC DVRS again being the “voice of the voiceless” of the era.
Further, even when the ADA was passed in 1990, DVRS counselors (and engineers) became knowledgeable and advocated for the newly granted employment rights of their consumers and also served as a valuable resource and educator to businesses and employers both from an employment rights standpoint and an architectural barrier removal standpoint. We are to be commended for rising to meet the needs and represent those who may be disadvantaged through the lack of understanding of disability in general, capabilities of individuals with disabilities, and how their employment positively impacts the workforce and economy. Since largely, but not completely, “the quest” to increase access to employment has been successful, OUR CHARGE TODAY (reinforced by the WIOA) IS TO CONTINUE TO ADDRESS EDUCATING EMPLOYERS AND ADVOCATING FOR QUALITY EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES WITHIN COMPETITIVE INTEGRATED ENVIRONMENTS!
It is our hope that this week’s edition has again provided a helpful perspective of where we are in “the quest” and what our important role is in addressing what appears to be one of the remaining barriers individuals with disabilities face—EMPLOYMENT. Thank you for choosing to serve with us as we address this challenge together!
We all made it to Friday! For this edition—we will begin with something very real in our VR past, present, and future— we rehabbers are passionate about our work and our play – it is the perfect balance of giving something and receiving something that sustains us over a long course of time. I trust many of you like me can’t wait for the next opportunity for some fun VR times—hope to at least catch you at the NCRA conference and make our own history and fun times.
To begin with, to ”earn” our fun during this brief, we will focus on some of the serious sides of our rehab past—success stories and interesting changes and muses of the era.
We always focus first on “The Client” who is why we exist as a committed body of unique people who value serving those who need our assistance more than self-serving. As published in the March-April REACH Issue of 1955:
One of the CLIENTS who through skillful counseling and intervention became successful (from the July-August 1955 REACH):
I later discovered what I believe to be “the rest of the story” which may be the same individual based on description and vocation:
NOW FOR THE FUN: Several of you may remember Forrest Teague—long time Eastern Regional Director—he is featured in the following article where CLIENTS from what is now Work Source East voted on “Miss VR” and had the pleasure of crowning. I believe I remember working with a Phyllis McLeod—do any of you? Which of you fine VR ladies would clients vote for today based on the criteria within the article?
More Recent Photos of Staff Enjoying Time Together “it’s good it’s good it’s good”(Clark Giswald and Cousin Eddie/ Mac Britt)
The Duck Dynasty Clan from Boone at one of our past NCRA Costume Events:
Tie Cutting Ceremonies for SECC Fundraising in recent years (Kenny Gibbs, John Marens, and Director Elizabeth Bishop) 2014
CLIENTS NEED FUN TOO:
Note the cover and article from the January-February 1972 REACH featuring a new concept: Wheelchair Basketball! The sport is very much thriving today and NCRA has worked with a few of these programs in recent years to help them raise funds for equipment. See Bridge II Sports http://www.bridge2sports.org/ for the latest update and testimonial how sports enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities. There are many sports such as waterskiing, skydiving, snow boarding/skiing as well as biking, swimming and all other varieties
FINALLY—OUR “DO YOU REMEMBER?” SECTION for THOSE WHO JUST MIGHT REMEMBER THESE FORMER REHABERS:
Hal Collins (1972) : From the Fayetteville Area. Retired about 10 years ago and served as S.Central Assistant Regional Director under Jim Wade:
Joan Cockrell (1972): Worked Many Years with Freya Brannon and some with Melinda Remaley as part of the Training and Staff Development in the Central Office
Dennis Crumpler (Rehab Eng Technician) (1972) I worked side by side with Dennis for about 5 or more years until his retirement. I credit him for giving me a great welcome to North Carolina and filling me in on intricate details of fine NC Barbeque and NASCAR. He literally grew up in one of the houses here on Dorothea Dix campus and also grew up with NASCAR when it was pretty much all dirt track.
I hope you have enjoyed this week’s nod to us as a hard working fun-loving group of people we pride ourselves to be.
Your Rich VR Heritage BRIEF #9: A Story of Trains and Great Gains in the NC Vocational Rehabilitation System
Happy Carolina Friday! While doing my Wed evening perusing of the REACH publication library looking for the best material to share with you I, ran across an interesting story that starts with trains and ends with a HUGE gain in NC Vocational Rehabilitation System. I know of several train fans in the audience (Richard Palmer, VR Engineer (Hickory) and Train Engineer (Spencer), and Mike Lindsay (QDS Winston Salem) and me to name those that immediately come to mind.
So the story begins with the Virginia-Carolina Railway, as per Wikipedia, which was an interstate railroad in operating 1887-1977 in southwestern Virginia and northwestern North Carolina. It ran from Abingdon in Washington County, Virginia to Todd in Ashe County, North Carolina. The line charted a complicated course through the mountains of the area, crossing the Blue Ridge not far from Mount Rogers. I ran across a book that covers this topic and the initial part of the story, “The “Virginia Creeper”: Remembering the Virginia-Carolina Railway,” by Doug McGuinn. A graphic of the book with a train is shown immediately below:.
For this special edition, I have retyped various portions from this book and the September-October 1955 issue of the REACH Voc Rehab Services Internal publication and will explain why later from a technical and accessibility standpoint. This portion of the story is from the book above.
“SAM” One particular day in 1913, between Todd and Fleetwood, the crews set their dynamite and charges in two holes. When set off, one of the charges fired as planned, but not the other. After some delay waiting for the second charge to go off and nothing happening, a foreman for the railroad by the name of Sam Cathey went to investigate. Just as he stopped over the hole, the dynamite discharged, leaving Sam blind and part of his face blown off. It was reported that he was blown some sixty feet from the original blast site.
Not one to be dependent on others because of his blindness, Sam set out to make a new life for himself. He mastered reading Braille and enrolled in the University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill. After much dedication and work, he not only received a law degree, but later went on to become a judge of the City Court in Asheville, N.C.”
Retyped from the 1955 REACH issue:
“With bowed head, the lone figure of a man standing in a vast pastureland atop a fertile plateau near Asheville, North Carolina, turned his back upon the setting sun to face eastward. He looked downward to the rolling slopes of the foothills, across the Piedmont sections, in to the wide stretches of the peach belt and outward to the sea. And looking thus across the great Tarhelia, he saw what no human eye may see.
In solemn reverence he stood there, standing before a background of his grazing cattle dwarfed by jagged peaks of the Blue Ridge. He faced the sky now overcast by a deep shade of fiery red from the last rays of the sun.
But this man…blind…could see none of these beautiful aspects of his ranch. He smiled, stretched his arms outward as if to embrace the entire world and thanked his God.
He sensed that cotton-like clouds were passing rapidly overhead. They reminded him of his memories, recollections of the seven thousand and more persons to whom he had restored eyesight. Laughter of children rang like music in the ear of his mind, hundreds of children who have been snatched from long, useless lives of idleness without eyesight. And there was the gladdening warmth, too, of other mature voices. These voices belong to one-fifth and more of all blind persons now employed in this United States and who live in North Carolina. Yes, twenty percent of all employed blind persons in the entire country live in North Carolina.
He thought of the North Carolina State Commission for the Blind of which he has been Chairman since 1935. Then he remembered the Asheville Municipal Court of which he has been judge since 1931. Reminded of some unfinished business, he walked resolutely toward the outer fringe of the pasture back to the people who love him and call him Sam.
Yes—and he loves his people too. Judge Sam M. Cathey has already become traditional. To the thousands of visually handicapped citizens of this State, he has become a symbol of a dream come true. Actually, he lives in the hearts and minds of even those who have not yet met him. He has searched the innermost, darkest recess of misfortune among the visually handicapped and has dared defy all who challenge the thought that a blind person is not capable of work and of earning his own living. Sam has proved that in his giant strides toward his own personal success.
Eyesight was lost to him in 1912 on a construction job when dynamite exploded. Sam remembers that it took him about three years to adjust to his handicap of blindness before enrolling in the State School for the Blind at Raleigh. He remembers, too that there was no State Commission for the Blind to assist him in his adjustment. And worse still, upon his graduation, he found that blind persons were denied admission into the University of North Carolina. This situation struck the spark. He resolved then and there to establish precedent. He would open new trails. By example of accomplishment, he would prove that blindness need not be considered a bar to professional training.
First, he broke through opposition at the State University. He is the first visually handicapped man to graduate from the Institution with Phi Beta Kappa [honor society that originated at the College of William and Mary Dec 5, 1776] honors and a LLB Degree.
One of his fellow students at the University recalls that the self-same faculty members who had so reluctantly accepted Sam as a student at the University later came to him for counsel when establishing a system of student government on the campus. In those days, there was much to be hoped for in the matter of self-discipline of students. That was nearly thirty-five years ago. Students of that time can recognize to this day influences of Judge Cathey in the present honor system and student government.
This pioneer in work for the blind initiated the first social legislation for the adult blind in North Carolina. He found to his amazement that there were no provisions for text books in Braille, a system of fingertip reading for the blind. He wrote a bill which was enacted into law. This law provides tuition and expenses of blind students in state colleges and allows additional funds to be spent for reader service.
Having thus opened the way for the college training of blind persons in North Carolina, Sam surveyed other general conditions. Employment opportunities for the blind were nil. Except for the school for the juvenile blind, there were no organized groups doing anything. Blind children were being educated through high school and were being returned home to survive as best they could. Sam recognized that money spent educating blind children was well used as far as it went. But an agency for the adult blind was sorely needed, an agency with the needed funds and skill to see that these children did find remunerative employment and useful citizenship.
In 1920, Sam Cathey established his practice of law in Asheville. During the next three years, he launched what was virtually a one-man campaign, championing the cause of the blind. His vigorous insistence that blindness is no employment handicap evoked surprise and admiration among citizens of Asheville, who elected him solicitor of the Asheville Municipal Court in 1927. It was here that Cathey learned to judge human character by the human voice and through analysis of what people say. Somehow, he has found it possible to penetrate behind the raw, seamy side of life and to plainly see the fabric that is a man himself. Viewing the needs and aches of the human heart, he has averted what might have been many broken homes. This insight has enabled him to establish a record in the area of crime prevention. The people living in Asheville wanted Sam for Judge of the Municipal Court in 1931. And they have never ceased to want him at the expiration of every four-year-term since. Those who know him best have come to know him as “Judge.”
In 1934, Judge Cathey encouraged a group of citizens from all sections of the State to meet and plan for the creation of a state agency for the adult blind. These people, representing the civic, fraternal, social, educational and religious organizations of North Carolina, were inspired by this dynamic figure who had so completely defeated the severest of physical handicaps. In September, 1937, they met at Statesville to organize the North Carolina State Association for the Blind. The following January, proposed legislation to create a State Commission for the Blind was enacted into law.
Soon afterward, J.C.B. Ehringhaus, then Governor of the State, was visited by a group of blind citizens who urged the appointment of Judge Cathey to the Board of the newly created agency for the blind. At the first meeting of the Board of Directors, Cathey was chosen by the Board to act as Chairman. Originally appointed to serve a term of three years, Judge Cathey has been re-appointed by succeeding Governors to serve for four additional five-year terms. And during the past 19 years he has served the State Commission for the Blind without remuneration and has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the original North Carolina State Association for the Blind.
Remembering those dark, bleak days in 1912 immediately following the accident that left him blind, he turned his attention to the need for a social adjustment center for the adult blind. In 1947, he appeared before the Joint Appropriations Committee of the General Assembly, asking that this provision be made. At considerable financial sacrifice to himself and with neglect of his law practice, he attended many committee meetings and hearings prior to and after the creation of the first Rehabilitation Canter for the Blind in the United States. The quivering, sensitive bewilderment of the newly blind is transformed into an asset, the Rehabilitation Center being the gateway to their social and economic independence.
This Rehabilitation Center is an indispensable tool in the vocational rehabilitation of the blind. It has been the means of bringing the level of employed blind persons in North Carolina to such a new “high” that the present twenty per cent of employed blind persons living in the state will be exceeded. Training methods established under Cathey’s direction at the Rehabilitation center for the Blind have attracted people from all sections of the United States, from Egypt, France, South America, and other countries.
Along the way up, Judge Cathey has identified himself with numerous organizations in order to expand his effort and plant seeds of suggestion among as many people in the State as possible. He is a past President and member of the Asheville Lions Club. He has come as high as a 32nd –degree Mason. He has served as exalted ruler of the Elks. He is a past Governor of the Moose in North Carolina. He has served as a member of the Fraternal Order of the Eagles and of the Red Men of the World. He has contributed much as a member of the Buncombe County and State Bar Associations.
Those who have observed his long record of never ending services to his fellow-men, wonder how he has managed to accomplish so much good in so short a time. But the Judge devotes little time to the past and all that he has done—rather he likes to dream of the many other things to be done so that the blind may have equal opportunities to live, work, and enjoy life. Some say the forward progress of the blind is impossible but the cattleman of Western North Carolina quickly remember the other things that were impossible but became possible with dogged determination, hard work, and a goal. He smiles as he muses on the successes of the past and the dreams of the future which will be realized with the continued interest and help of thousands of persons across the great State of North Carolina.
Note: Judge Samuel Murston Cathey was born February 9, 1894 in Henderson, NC and died February 12, 1970 in Buncombe, NC. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=41016759&PIpi=80727494
Additional note: This special edition will be shared with Division of Services for the Blind and to keep the document as accessible as possible for screen readers, the body of the text has been typed out instead of using scans of graphics which screen readers cannot decipher well.
Finally, I will conclude this “Brief” with a concise statement from the July-August 1955 issue:
“A man can live thirty days with no food,
seven days with no water,
five minutes with no air,
but no time at all without HOPE.”
The proficient Rehabilitation Counselor inspires HOPE.
I HOPE this has inspired you to continue your proficiency in first inspiring HOPE to those who need it, then ACTING to change their status in life just as Judge Cathey did for himself and all the individuals who lived their lives more fully realized.
Your rich VR Heritage / Fun Friday Special Edition #8: A Fitting Tribute to John W. Dalrymple: Independent Living Crusader
Happy First Friday of 2017!
Hope you all had a great break celebrating with family and friends the past couple of weeks and now have had a nice warm return to your VR family. Prior to the break, we shared a tribute to Bob Philbeck and his cohort of distinguished VR directors. This week we will focus on one individual who is known primarily for his pioneering and unwavering commitment to the establishment and growth of the NC Independent Living Rehabilitation Program. John Dalrymple, whose accomplishments are featured in the slide show below (from a PowerPoint I had originally assembled for his retirement in 2006), served distinguishingly with NC DVRS from 1967-2006 -- 39 years!!
I only recently learned that John Dalrymple was a client of Larry W. Holland (pictured at right), my hiring supervisor, who served as the South Central Regional Director for many years until his retirement in 1996. I did have the benefit of visiting with Larry and John (and others) briefly at Bob’s funeral and am including a photo of Larry taken 12-19-2016. I am presenting this to those of you among us who remember John well and hold him in as high esteem as I do for the major impact he had on the lives of North Carolinians with Disabilities.
May this inspire you in some way as a crusader for the cause we hold dear.
Your Rich VR Heritage BRIEF #7 Special Edition In Honor of our Late Director Bob Philbeck December 21, 1940 - December 10, 2016
Normally, I would greet your morning with Happy Friday; however this Friday, is not entirely happy in that it is one in which would be most appropriate to pay our respects to Bob Philbeck, 6th director of the NC Division of Vocational Rehabilitation who left this world less than one week ago today. However, we will not only honor him, but the series of those who have accepted the challenge of providing leadership and direction to this historically rich and effective assembly of dedicated workers who make their mission to improve the lives of North Carolinians with disabilities.
I will give a brief synapses of each director, some of which I never had the honor to meet, along with several I have (spanning Claude A. Myer to Tara K. Myers).
The story of NC DVRS Directors begins here:
HOMER L. STANTON (1921-1936) B: 28 Jul 1887 D: 2 Nov 1972 No photo yet identified National Rehabilitation Association President 22 months 1928-1930.
*Mr. Stanton was the first administrator of the division, providing “strong leadership to a developing new program of services for handicapped people;” This was a period where the Federal-State funding partnership was developed. March 8, 1921, the NC General Assembly passed legislation to provide $5,000 per year to pay for the actual living expenses of individuals with disabilities who were in training, not to exceed ten dollars per week per person.” July 1, 2021, almost a year after NC accepted the provisions of the Federal Act, Homer Stanton was hired as the NC Voc Rehab Program’s first director. He was a native of Indiana and a veteran of the aviation corp of WWI. He was recruited by T.E. Browne, director of Vocational Education with NC Dept of Education (Now known as DPI), out of which NC DVRS was birthed. Below is a photo of his grave stone and he is buried in Culpeper, VA
CHARLES H. WARREN (1936-1941)[leave of absence for military service] (1944-1964) National Rehabilitation Association President 11 months 1955-1956.
Mr. Warren, who came from the Charlotte field office, served during a period of great expansion especially as the result of landmark federal legislation introduced in 1954 when increased appropriations and funding for university-based training programs for rehabilitation counselors were introduced. Cooperative agreements with several NC agencies such as NC Employment Security Commission, “Crippled” Children’s Section, State and County Departments of Public Welfare, NC Commission for the Blind; Bureau of Labor for the Deaf, State Dept. of Labor, Workmen’s Compensation, etc. Snapshot year : 1948-49 2,259 successful outcomes—805 amputees, 328 Tuberculosis; 261 surgery and treatment; 86 had a primary diagnosis in the area of mental health.
HORACE E. SPRINGER (1941-1944) During the time that Mr. Springer served as director, the program expanded greatly as a result of Public Law 113 passed by Congress in 1943. A physical restoration program was first introduced as well as the expansion of services to individuals with emotional and intellectual (mental health) disabilities.
ROBERT A. LASSITER (1964-1968) During Mr. Lassiter’s directorship, during 1966-67 a total of 1,400 students were provided vocational rehab services at the newly established (12) special education-rehabilitation units. During this year another twelve sheltered workshops were established with local non-profit organizations and during this era the Division began working with more significantly disabled and those with I/DD and MH – related disabilities. Graduate programs in rehabilitation counseling were established at UNC-CH and ECU during 1966-67. Mr. Lassiter resigned to take a position with UNC-CH in the School of Education.
CLAUDE A. MYER (March 1968 – 1994) Claude A. Myer was born on November 10, 1930 and died on November 8, 1999 at the age of 68. Claude last resided in Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina. He was the youngest director to serve the Division at 37 years old and at that time was also the youngest director nationally, according to the source below. Claude Myer was a bit of an icon and really put NC Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in the national light, primarily due to his firm commitment to the program’s growth and improvement over such a long course of time. He was director when I began with the Division in 1991 and I remember him as a tall slender quiet natured gentleman with light silver hair. He was still very busy traveling on the national scene back then, while his Deputy Director Bob Philbeck was “the man” who kept operations going during those years. I have only a small snapshot of such an icon and pivotal leader in our history. Prior to coming to NC to serve, Mr. Myers worked as a rehabilitation counselor for a director Claude Andrews in the State of Florida. He was the first NC DVRS director who had earned a degree in Vocational Rehabilitation from University of Florida, Gainesville, 1958. During his era, the program expanded what it is today with numerous counselor liaison positions with medical restoration facilities, prisons, juvenile programs, school systems, social services, etc. Program development became an important component of our operations during his tenure as well as the development of rehabilitation facilities such as the SE Regional Rehabilitation Facility and what is now WorkSource West and East. Equally important during his tenure was the emphasis placed on improving services through medical and psychological consultation, staff training, and staff participation in evaluation and planning activities. Mr. Myer was an individual who managed diabetes successfully for many years.
BOB HARRISON PHILBECK (1994-2004) December 21, 1940 - December 10, 2016 Mr. Philbeck regrettably passed away within this very week. I believe his obituary summarizes his achievements best:
Bob Harrison Philbeck, 75, passed away peacefully on Saturday, December 10, 2016, at Sunrise of North Hills, Raleigh. He was born on December 21, 1940 to the late Irvin Philbeck and Nola Brown Philbeck in Statesville, NC. Bob moved his family to Raleigh to accept a position with the NC Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services where he began his almost 40 years of service to persons with disabilities in the State, Nation and World communities. While in his youth he felt one of his greatest accomplishments was earning the Eagle Scout Award.
Bob attended Wake Forest University and High Point University, earned an MS degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, and an MS degree in Pastoral Counseling from the Christian University of Florida. He taught high school at the Scott's Community School in Iredell County before beginning his career with Vocational Rehabilitation. His initial role with VR was working with individuals who needed specialized job training and job placement services leading to their employment and gaining their highest level of independent living. He helped develop and support numerous vocational and sheltered workshops across NC to assist in accomplishing this training and job placement. He rose through the ranks of the state agency and served as Deputy State Director for 15 years before being appointed as State Director in 1994 by then Governor Jim Hunt.
Bob was active on the state level in all areas of rehabilitation, being appointed by Governor Robert Scott to direct a Criminal Justice Manpower Study under a grant from the US Department of Labor. He was appointed by the US Department of Education Rehabilitation Services Administration to help write the rehabilitation portion of the State Health Plan for the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands when the US was establishing its commonwealth relationship with the Islands, and the plan was put into operation in 1985. In 1990 Bob was appointed as staff analyst to the US Member to the International Labor Organization to draft a Geneva Convention on the World-wide Rights of Disabled People. This Convention was ultimately ratified by the US Senate. At his retirement in June 2002, Bob was awarded "The Order of the Long Leaf Pine" for his service to the State.
During his tenure, Mr. Philbeck helped navigate the Division through economic straits, which caused the Division to make some very difficult policy adjustments (applying the needs test to post-secondary training in 2001); withdrawing support from St. Andrews Burris Center; positions forfeited and retracted from third party programs such as medical centers, rehab centers, prisons, etc. He helped us navigate through the Americans with Disabilities Act, Workforce Investment Act changes with the Rehabilitation Act Reauthorization of 1998 (2001 Regs). The Assistive Technology Act of 1998 and the Division’s implementation through the North Carolina Assistive Technology Project (now Program) during his oversight. Supported Employment services also gained strength during his tenure.
GEORGE D. MCCOY (2004-2007) George McCoy, who served in numerous capacities as operations manager, was instrumental earlier in his career for ushering technological advancements to the Division, including the introduction of Rehabilitation Engineering services. Director McCoy’s commitment to the program was the support of performance-based contracting, program improvement, quality outcomes, and the Work Incentives Program and helped encourage the Division to provide stronger business services prior to the Dual Customer Approach. He was also extremely supportive of the SNAP (Strategic Needs Assessment and Planning) program.
LINDA S. HARRINGTON (2007-2013) Linda Harrington lead the Division during difficult economic times and had a strong commitment to the Division’s performance and partnership with stakeholders and community rehabilitation programs. She helped direct some restructuring of sections within the central office, lead the Division during the period when several innovative practices were explored with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a period of intense partnership. The Dual Customer Approach of serving both consumers and employers with equal commitment was a respectable accomplishment during her era. Milestone reimbursement system that is utilized today as a performance-enhancing measure was implemented under her leadership. Linda had high performance expectations and the Division responded accordingly during this era. Finally, under her leadership the Division began the implementation of the BEAM case management system, which replaced BEAM.
ELIZABETH W. BISHOP (2013-2015) Elizabeth Bishop served in many roles with her 36 or more years of service with the Division. She served in capacities of rehabilitation counselor, vocational evaluator, counselor-in-charge, regional educational specialist, program specialist for mental health, Chief of Policy, Section Chief of Program Policy Planning and Evaluation, Deputy Director, then Director. Elizabeth made her greatest contribution toward the Division’s accomplishments as Chief of Policy and Section Chief at which she spent more of her career developing many policies in adjustment to tighter economic times and client needs. Elizabeth helped provide stability during the implementation of BEAM and helped build an excellent rapport with the Rehabilitation Services Administration, while preparing the Division during the beginning of our WIOA implementation.
TARA K. MYERS (July 2016 to Present) Tara Myers accepted the challenging role of Division Director July 1, 2016 after serving in various capacities over a 22 year career beginning as a rehabilitation counselor, Unit Manager, Facility Director, Assistant Regional Director, finally Regional Director until taking her current leadership role. We look forward to her continued enthusiastic commitment to the organizational strength and continued improvement of the Division through innovation while we respond to changing needs of the NC Workforce assisted largely through changes driven by the most major legislative changes (WIOA of 2014) to the national rehabilitation program since the WIA in 1998. In order to succeed together we must support our leadership in whichever way we can by doing our best within the role we each are currently working within. We expect that we will be updating this entry with many accomplishments and innovative improvements as she has engaged innovation and process improvement with strong commitment during her tenure.
*resource: “Vocational Rehabilitation in North Carolina,” a bound documentary with no named author I could locate circa 1970.
Let’s write the most exciting and impressive chapters yet to be written—happy to help document our accomplishments together!
Warm Regards Wishing you and yours a Safe and Restful Holiday Season!
Hopefully another successful week of rehabilitation accomplished! This week thought I would include some interesting snippets from the 1953 VR REACH publication and also some from 1972, since there are some of you still on staff that would remember some of the individuals featured from the last articles published.
To get a sense of the makeup of individuals that our agency used to serve, check this out:
Our Business Relations Representatives might appreciate this from 1953. Early marketing approaches for individuals with disabilities and what they offer the NC Economy. I believe many of these marketing points remain valid today, but with renewed language.
And they thought they were in a healthcare cost crisis then (1953)….
From 1972 Edition:
This Gentleman George Parrish worked at the State Office when I was here and retired at least 10 years ago.
For the Vocational Evaluators among us--- Yes VEWAA was active then too! Some of us received training from Tom Gaines who was later with Georgia State University who provided a lot of training as a technical assistance center. I believe Mike Lindsay, QDS Central Region had worked with Tom Gaines as well at some point.
This concludes this week’s Fun Friday edition. Hope you enjoyed. Should have some more familiar faces next week. Hope to see many of you at this year’s conference next week.
I was impressed to hear from Barbara Garren, of the Hickory Unit who indicated that she attended the 1972 NCRA conference and remembers the banjo pickin’ and other events featured in last week’s photos! Barbara apparently is one of our VR legends!!
Remember as Carly Simon says in one of her songs “THESE ARE THE GOOD OLE DAYS!”
Good Morning! Wanted to share some information that now been preserved digitally thanks to some recent assistance we have received with scanning as part of the youth work experience program Project Search. We are very appreciative of their assistance!
You are part of a program that has been in existence in North Carolina since the early 1920’s. There have been many, many changes to the program over this span. We continue to evolve as the needs of our clientele, community, and employers’ needs evolve. Just on the way to work this morning, I saw a bumper sticker that I thought was a good summary for many changes we as a world are experiencing. It read “Change in Inevitable--Struggle is Optional.” We are the DVRS family and we will work together with our other partners to use these recent opportunities, e.g., WIOA, to strengthen our position and effectiveness. As we move forward, constructive feedback is an important component, so keep your constructive feedback from your unique perspective preferably coming through your managers.
The main point of sharing this information is that we are all part of a wonderful profession that has a rich heritage and many of you are interested in this. There are many who are approaching retirement age among our ranks who may remember some of the fine individuals who were working as part of our DVRS family within the past 3-4 decades and I hope to intentionally include snippets of them, anticipating that they would recognize them at the beginning of their careers. REACH was an internal communication pamphlet that was published regularly from 1953 through the early 1970’s. I have tremendous respect for what they accomplished with the non-digital tools available to them at the time.
The plan is to have these wonderful publications, now scanned, available for your review on the intranet or shared drive. Additionally, my intentions are to post most Fridays a small sampling of highlights from a REACH issue so we can take a moment to reflect on who we were as a service family, who we are today, and who we may wish to become. I hope you enjoy this information as much as I do.
From 1953 issue #1—an introductory note from Charles H. Warren, Director
Performance of the era:
When we talk about how complex things have become—well, here is the first piece of evidence—look at the simplicity of the application!
AND since we have the 2016 NCRA – NCATP GREAT conference in a few weeks—some fun photos from that event from 1972 issue: