Rehabilitation Center at Elizabethton thanks those who help their clients help themselves

By Bob Robinson


Once a year around Thanksgiving, the Tennessee Rehabilitation Center (TRC), 407 Cherokee Park Drive, Elizabethton, stops to say "thanks" to those who help individuals with disabilities help themselves through the center's program.
   On Thursday, the Center served a "Thanksgiving Lunch" to clients, employers, job coaches, staff, financial supporters, area school representatives, government officials and members of the center's board of directors, among others.
   "It's our way of expressing appreciation to those who support the center's program of work to improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities through gainful employment," said Alan Jenkins, manager of TRC.
   The Elizabethton Center, one of 18 in Tennessee, prepares individuals with disabilities for competitive employment through vocational evaluation, work adjustment and job placement services.
   The center also offers contract work to clients. "High performers can earn as much as $8 per hour," Jenkins said.
   Next spring, the center will offer training in landscaping and gardens made possible with a grant, totaling $53,750, from the City of Elizabethton and the Tennessee Department of Conservation Recreational Services Division. The landscaped gardens will be a part of the walking trail near the center.
   The annual operating budget for the Elizabethton Center is $259,000, including 40 percent from private donations and a 70 percent match from the Federal Government.
   "For the current fiscal year ending June 30, we still need to raise $664. We are optimistic, however, that we can reach that amount before year-end," Jenkins added.
   Among major funding sources are Elizabethton, Watauga and Johnson City governments, Carter, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington County governments and United Way of Erwin.
   Special contributors are Roan Mountain Citizens Club, Elizabethton Civitan Club, General Shale, Elizabethton/Carter County Economic Development Committee, Mr. and Mrs. William Stitt, W.A. Taylor Construction Co., Citizens Bank Tri-Cities, Siemens, David Bautista and Russell Brackins.
   Donations are tax deductible and may be sent to Tennessee Rehabilitation Center at Elizabethton, 407 Cherokee Park Drive, Elizabethton, TN 37643, telephone 423/542-4159.
   Accredited by the Commission of Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, the center moved to its present location in January of 1997.
   Its predecessor, the Tennessee Vocational Training Center, located at the corner of West E Street and Roan Street behind Hathaway-Percy Funeral Home, was established in 1962.
   Members of the center's board of directors are David Bautista, Public Defender, Johnson City, president; Sandra Davis, secretary, City of Elizabethton; Charlene O'Dell, director, Senior Adult Center, Unicoi; Betty Brown, principal, Johnson County High School, Mountain City; Clyde Groseclose, retired school teacher, Kingsport; Pete Nichols, Elizabethton Herb & Metal Co., Elizabethton; Phil Nave, commissioner, Elizabethton; Russell Brackins, Mayor of Erwin; Carol Whaley, director, Special Education, Elizabethton City Schools; and R.L. Miller, commissioner, Roan Mountain.
   Jenkins hopes the center will continue to build on the success of the past as it "Prepares People for Jobs," with financial support from the community and employment opportunities from employers.
   "The center has come a long way since the beginning," Jenkins said, adding, "The work is not done."