Enid receptionist copes with hearing loss to serve Youth and Family Services’ clients
ENID, Oklahoma – Hearing loss can’t slow Denise Gallagher down. The busy receptionist at Youth and Family Services of North Central Oklahoma just doesn’t have time.
Gallagher greets 1,500 children and families each year and helps them navigate a range of services offered by 50 YFS staff in Enid, including 24 mental health counselors.
YFS operates an emergency youth shelter, outpatient and school-counseling programs, food pantries, a transitional living program for young adults ages 18 to 22, and drug and alcohol recovery programs.
Gallagher handles the YFS switchboard and helps clients reach their counselors and other staff.
During “down time,” she does data entry or grant management, and coordinates parenting and anger management classes that meet monthly after 5 p.m.
“Denise is a great greeter – she puts people at ease,” Executive Director Dan Buckley said. “She’ll take on any project -- and sometimes we give her too many projects -- but I appreciate her flexibility in going from data entry to filling the copy machine to finding me the type pen I like.
“We all wear lots of hats,” he explained.
Gallagher was a client of Vocational Rehabilitation when she applied at Youth and Family Services in August 2011.
“… Out of 90 applicants, they chose me,” Gallagher said with a smile. “I feel real blessed to have this job.”
VR, sometimes called “Voc Rehab,” is the employment agency for people with disabilities and a division of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.
Gallagher’s VR counselor, Stacey Birchfield paid for hearing exams, new hearing aids and a wireless transmitter to improve her ability to hear on the phone.
“When you are hard of hearing, you learn to look people in the face,” Gallagher said. “When they talk fast, all the words run together.”
Youth and Family Services tried out several phone systems in search of one that is fully compatible with Gallagher’s hearing aids and computer.
“What we want is something that will Bluetooth into my hearing aids,” Gallagher explained, “A lot of new equipment comes out all the time, so we are still experimenting with devices that will improve my hearing.”
Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances.
“Had it not been for their (DRS) help, I would not have a receptionist job,” Gallagher said. “If you are able and you want to work, …my advice is: call Voc Rehab and talk to them.”
A native of Enid, Gallagher is raising her five-year-old granddaughter, Kennedy Grace.
For information about DRS’ job preparation and employment programs for people with disabilities in the Enid area, phone 580-233-0244. To reach the nearest office in other parts of the state, phone 800-487-4042 toll free or visit www.okdrs.gov .