Christie Williams, a young woman with Down’s syndrome, fibromyalgia, Reynaud’s disease, and a degenerative spinal problem, recently reached a successful employment outcome with the assistance the Tennessee Division of Rehabilitation Services. She won the statewide Case of the Year honors, and her Counselor, Janna Washington, says that this was the case of her career as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. She says that the 2-inch thick case file cannot begin to depict the amount of give-and-take that occurred for a successful rehabilitation program for the most important person in the process ----- the client.
Ms. Williams began her VR program as a junior in high school in 1998, and VR was active for the following 3 years of her high school program with M-Team meetings, technology evaluations, job shadowing and 3 community-based placements with intensive services of the Counselor taking on the roles of advocate, job coach and transportation coordinator, among other roles. The Counselor cites this case as being a good example of needing to make the effort to always keep an open mind and to provide opportunities to try to meet the wishes of the client and family, however unrealistic those goals might seem. Ms. Williams audited a college-level computer class and participated in numerous evaluations administered by 3 separate agencies in an attempt to come to agreement on the plan for employment.
Following the completion of services, Ms. Williams, her Counselor, and Job Placement Counselor Kyndra Jones agreed that she was well-suited for the service industry, as she enjoys helping others. Through job placement services, Ms. Williams found just the right job at Captain D's as a Dining Room Attendant. She greets customers and provides everyone with a smile, and she assists customers with beverage refills and other dining needs. Ms. Williams told a reporter from The Tullahoma News and Guardian, “I love people. My heart goes out to them. I ignore my own problems and help lift them up”. She has regular customers, and to paraphrase one customer’s comment, "I feel good every time I walk in the door due to Christie. She lights up with a smile to say I am welcome here. She is always professional and always has warm and kind words to share. She makes me feel as a part of her family, and I have grown to love her. She is amazing!".
Ms. Williams is a wonderful example of a success story. She has found her niche through the services of Rehabilitation and her desire to overcome her own circumstances to help others.