Rehabilitation Services Commission selects executive director to lead disability agency

Smiling woman wearing glasses

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Commission for Rehabilitation Services appointed Melinda Fruendt as executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services on Monday (November 5).

Fruendt, who was briefly interim director, will lead more than 1,000 state employees who served 97,864 Oklahomans with disabilities in 2017.

Go back in time with us with this classic press release - meet Rob Hill

This media release was originally released on July 13, 2012. DRS has been empowering Oklahomans for 25 years.

Eligible for SSDI Tulsa man chose to work for 32 years

Hill walking up the street using a white cane.

TULSA, Okla. – “I don’t fly a plane. Although I may be driving before long,” Rob Hill said. While somewhat joking, the fact of the matter is Google has been test-driving the driverless car, which is perfect for Hill because he is completely blind.

This attitude of you-never-know is strong in Hill. He has the degenerative eye disease retinitis pigmentosa, which cost him his sight in 1973. However, he didn’t let that stop him from working full time for the last 32 years and doing community service and advocacy work for causes he strongly believes in.

Hill, 67 years old, retired on May 31, 2012 from 211 Helpline in the Community Service Council as a social worker in Tulsa. Along his path to retirement, Hill learned and experienced many things that a man with 20/20 vision wouldn’t have even dreamed of doing.

Muskogee Masons’ spaghetti dinner November 5

Two women serve spahetti to young people at the front of a line.

MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Spaghetti and meatballs will top the menu on Monday, November 5, when the Masons of Trinity Lodge #502 host their annual fundraiser to benefit Oklahoma School for the Blind.

OSB students will assist the Masons in serving dinner from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Masonic Lodge at 121 S. 6th Street, next to the U.S. Post Office in Muskogee.

The public is encouraged to attend. Organizers have suggested a $7 donation for each dinner at the door.

Go back in time with us with this classic press release - meet Buddy Thomas

This media release was originally released on Oct. 6, 2017. DRS has been empowering Oklahomans for 25 years.

Shop manager, bladecrafter is DRS Disability Employment Awareness Month spokesperson

Thomas hammering metal on an anvil wearing heavy fireproof gloves.

QUAPAW, Okla. – Two jobs are not enough for Tulsa Native Norman “Buddy” Thomas. Someday, he hopes to add a third job helping others who are deaf “chase their own passions and dreams.”

Thomas is shop manager at Metal Fab Trophy and Screen Printing in Miami. He also owns Tree of Liberty Bladecraft and Forge, a professional grade knife-making business recently featured in national Blade magazine.

He has made 200 knives or other weapons, but Thomas considers himself an apprentice.

School for the Blind Jazz Band to perform Oct 15 at Woodland Hills Mall in Tulsa

Five students play saxophones in a mall

TULSA, OKLA. – The Oklahoma School for the Blind will celebrate National White Cane Safety Awareness Day on Monday, October 15, at Woodland Hills Mall in Tulsa.

The free event is open to the public.

Woodland Hills Mall is located at 7021 S. Memorial Road.

OSB faculty will display educational exhibits beginning at 3 p.m.

The award-winning OSB Jazz Band, which earned 2-A state championships in 2016, 2017 and 2018, will perform at 6 p.m.

OKC advocates celebrate National White Cane Safety Day October 13

Man with white cane holds arm of woman with White Cane Day sign

OKLAHOMA CITY ─ Saturday, October 13, will mark the 10th year the Heartland Council of the Blind has celebrated National White Cane Safety Awareness Day in Oklahoma City.

Activities focus on the importance of the white cane as a tool to achieve independence and a symbol of people with vision loss.

Heartland Council members will gather with participants from Visual Services in the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services and Veterans Independence Through Adaptive Living (VITAL) at 11 a.m. in Bricktown.

DRS serving 2,960 wait-listed jobseekers with disabilities since January 1

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Department of Rehabilitation Services is celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October by transferring approximately 1,800 job seekers with significant disabilities from waiting lists to active Vocational Rehabilitation and Visual Services caseloads.

VR and VS staff began providing career planning and employment services to the most recent group of 904 applicants on September 24. Staff will begin serving approximately 900 more jobseekers on October 08. The exact number will be determined on that date.

Go back in time with us with this classic press release - meet Tiffany Thompson

This media release was originally released on July 17, 2012. DRS has been empowering Oklahomans for 25 years.

Miss Black UCO admits dyslexia struggle, wins pageant crown

Thompson poses in her Miss Black UCO shash and crown.

EDMOND, Okla. –Delivering a monologue about dyslexia -- the undeserved shame she was almost afraid to talk about -- contributed to Tiffany Thompson’s win in the Miss Black UCO 2012 scholarship pageant. The rewards were a pageant win on her seventh attempt, a $1,600 University of Central Oklahoma tuition waiver and the chance to help others face or understand an invisible learning disability that makes it difficult for intelligent people to read.

“My monologue was called, ‘Who am I?’,” Thompson explained, “and it was about growing up having people tell me I wasn’t going to be a success because I was black, wasn’t going to be successful because I was a female.”

For the first time ever, Thompson’s family and friends heard her describe what it was like to get “that heart attack feeling” when called on to read out loud in school – to be laughed at and called stupid – and believe it.