OKLAHOMA CITY – Samantha Reeves from Tulsa earned the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services’ Blind and Visually Impaired Client of the Year award on March 10 at the state Capitol.
Reeves received her award on DRS’ 25th People with Disabilities Awareness Day.
Commission for Rehabilitation Services Commissioner Emily Cheng and DRS Executive Director Melinda Fruendt recognized Reeves for overcoming disability-related obstacles to become an employed, taxpaying citizen.
Reeves grew up in Hominy and moved to Enid where she was diagnosed at age 21 with Retinitis Pigmentosa, an eye disorder that damages retina cells and leads to loss of peripheral or side vision.
Eyestrain led to blindness for Reeves, who moved home so her mother could help until she died at an early age. Reeves was eventually stranded in Tulsa where recovery from a 10th hip surgery was complicated by injuries from two falls.
At her lowest point, Reeves found DRS and Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired where her counselor Stacy LaMotta provided counseling, on-the-job training and encouragement.
SBVI hired Samantha for an internship in their reception area, which led to a permanent job as a rehabilitation technician at the DRS Career Planning Center in Tulsa.
Reeves’ one-year employment anniversary will be April 29.
In years past, People with Disabilities Awareness Day brought nearly a thousand Oklahomans to the state Capitol to talk with lawmakers and share their stories. Construction at the state Capitol this year made such an onsite event impossible, leading supporters to come together online at www.okdrs.gov/pwdad for a social media event.
Last year, DRS served 82,787 Oklahomans with disabilities with career preparation, employment, residential and outreach education, independent living programs and the determination of medical eligibility for disability benefits. The agency helps job seekers with disabilities face barriers to employment, such as inaccessible worksites, lack of transportation or the need for specialized equipment or training. For more information, visit http://www.okdrs.gov or phone 800-845-8476.