News and Information
West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services recognizes Unsung Heroes of 2020
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, DRS was unable to hold its annual Ability Works Recognition Ceremony in 2020.
However, it is extremely important to acknowledge individuals with disabilities for their employment success and contributions during these difficult circumstances.
Therefore, DRS implemented a nontraditional awards program, the Unsung Heroes of 2020, to recognize DRS consumers who were employed in a "frontline" employment situation during the pandemic.
Nominated and recognized DRS consumers were employed during the pandemic in a capacity that involved serving others by providing essential services to help maintain public health and safety and/or economic stability during these unprecedented times.
With this campaign, DRS celebrates these workers for their contributions and expresses gratitude for their extraordinary dedication and spirit. These hard-working individuals are the true heroes of this time.
- Bryan Baker
- Tori Bell
- Erica Brown
- Sean Cain
- Kayla Conard
- Maggie DeBolt
- Christina DeMoss
- Jodi Griffith
- Kimberly Harding-Dudding
- Neil Hasen
- Stacey Hose
- Zachary Meadows
- Alexis Paxson
- Shania Russell
- Karen Smith
- Michael Stasny
- Samantha Stutler
- Taylor Wilson
- Cole Zulauf
Gov. Justice proclaims Vocational Rehabilitation Recognition Day
Governor Jim Justice has issued a proclamation declaring October 19 as Vocational Rehabilitation Recognition Day, marking 2020 as the 100-year anniversary of the public Vocational Rehabilitation program, both nationally and in West Virginia.
President Woodrow Wilson signed the Smith-Fess Act of 1920, known as the Civilian Vocational Rehabilitation Act, into law on June 2, 1920. In West Virginia, Governor John Jacob Cornwell issued a proclamation on August 30, 1920, accepting the provisions of the federal Smith-Fess Act, which essentially started the Vocational Rehabilitation program in our state.
Through the 100-year anniversary of the Vocational Rehabilitation program, we have been able to reflect on the significance of the dramatic advances for people with disabilities. During this time period, one of the most meaningful developments has been opportunity – people with disabilities have the opportunity to access and gain an education, people with disabilities have the opportunity to participate in the workforce in jobs that would not have been imaginable at one time, and people with disabilities have the opportunity to fully partake in and contribute to their communities.
With October being National Disability Employment Awareness Month, this is a time to celebrate the role the Vocational Rehabilitation program plays in helping people with disabilities to break down barriers to employment, as well as a time to applaud the success of workers with disabilities for their determination, innovation and hard work and to acknowledge employers for promoting diversity in the workplace by having inclusive hiring practices.
The full text of the proclamation follows.
by Governor Jim Justice
Whereas, this year marks the 100-year anniversary of the enactment of the federal Civilian Vocational Rehabilitation Act, commonly known as the Smith-Fess Act and the beginning of the public Vocational Rehabilitation program, on June 2, 1920; and
Whereas, West Virginia Governor John Jacob Cornwell accepted the provisions of the federal Civilian Vocational Rehabilitation Act by issuing a proclamation on August 30, 1920 to establish the Civilian Rehabilitation program in West Virginia; and
Whereas, an estimated 19% of West Virginia's population has a disability; and
Whereas, society's understanding of disability is reflected in the transformation of Vocational Rehabilitation from a program narrowly focused on people with physical impairments to a program providing a wide array of services and supports that lead to high-quality, competitive employment, as well as increased independence and community participation for people with diverse and significant disabilities; and
Whereas, a workforce reflecting the talents of all people, including those with disabilities, is critical to building inclusive communities and a strong economy in West Virginia; and
Whereas, West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services, in collaboration with public and private sector partners, helps West Virginians with disabilities excel in their chosen careers, earn competitive wages and benefits and positively impact their employers, communities and the state economy; and
Whereas, the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Fess Act calls attention to the beneficial partnership between the state and federal government to provide Vocational Rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities seeking competitive employment and to employers seeking to hire, retain, and advance qualified employees with disabilities; and
Whereas, the month of October is known as National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which is a time to showcase the employment contributions of individuals with disabilities.
Now, therefore, be it resolved that I, Jim Justice, Governor of the Great State of West Virginia, do hereby proclaim October 19, 2020, as:
Vocational Rehabilitation Recognition Day
in the Mountain State and encourage all citizens to join me in observing the 100th Anniversary of the West Virginia Vocational Rehabilitation Program by recognizing and acknowledging West Virginia's hard-working Vocational Rehabilitation professionals, West Virginia's citizens with disabilities, and West Virginia's employers for providing job opportunities to those citizens.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of West Virginia to be affixed.
Done at the Capitol, city of Charleston, State of West Virginia, this Thirtieth day of September, in the year of our Lord, Two Thousand Twenty, in the One Hundred and Fifty-Eighth year of the State.
The Proclamation is signed by Governor Jim Justice and Secretary of State Mac Warner.
The West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services (WVDRS) is answering the call to recruit WVDRS clients, who are interested in customer service representative jobs, to work with Amazon, the multinational company that provides online sales, web services, video and music streaming, Alexa through Echo devices, and so much more. Read the full story here
Charleston, W.Va. (May 21, 2018) – The West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) invites West Virginia artists with disabilities to enter the 2018 West Virginia Diversifying Perspectives Art Contest and Exhibition. This fifth annual event will feature original artwork created by people with disabilities. Read the full story here
Charleston, W.Va. (Sept. 6, 2017) — The West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) announces the 2017 Diversifying Perspectives Art Contest and Exhibition award winners. Read the full story here.
Charleston, W.Va. (Sept. 7, 2016) — The West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) announces the 2016 Diversifying Perspectives Art Contest and Exhibition award winners. Read the full story
Charleston, W.Va. (Sept. 1, 2016) — The 2016 Diversifying Perspectives Art Contest and Exhibition will open with a reception at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7, in the Great Hall of the Culture Center.
The exhibit will be on display in the Balcony Gallery and features original artwork created by people with disabilities. Read the news release