Low-vision Tulsan gains employment and confidence
Samantha Reeves is developing valuable workplace skills at Tulsa Visual Services, thanks to the Galt Foundation.
Samantha Reeves is the receptionist at the Tulsa Visual Services office of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, where she also is a client.
Earlier this year, Samantha Reeves was unemployed and didn’t leave home unless it was unavoidable. Now she is the first friendly face or voice people encounter at the Tulsa Visual Services office of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.
“I’m learning how to be social again,” says Reeves, 30, who is the department’s full-time receptionist.
Like most of the people she greets, Reeves also is a client of OKDRS. She has low vision, a term used to describe significant visual impairment that can’t be corrected fully with glasses, contact lenses, medication or eye surgery. Since she was diagnosed in 2010 with a degenerative eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa, her field of vision has narrowed from 20 degrees to 3-5 degrees.
Reeves was recommended for her position by Visual Services while completing the division’s Training Adult Program. After she was selected for the position, the Galt Foundation, a nonprofit staffing organization that recently expanded to Tulsa, facilitated her hiring process.
Galt connects skilled individuals with disabilities to meaningful and self-sustaining jobs, employing approximately 2,500 in Oklahoma, Oregon and Pennsylvania.
“Tulsa has a great opportunity between the economy growing and its industries diversifying, and Tulsa has a great advocacy history,” says Hope Crumley, Galt’s senior vice president of disability inclusion and staffing. “It has a really solid combination of people with disabilities and their supporters.”
Galt continues to help Reeves by periodically assessing her workplace skills — from email etiquette to customer service.
Reeves’ role at Visual Services is a temporary 10-month training position; in nine months Galt, along with Visual Services, will help her find permanent employment. She hopes that job will be in marketing, the field in which she holds a degree.
Until then, Galt and Visual Services are helping her become a productive employee. “Maybe I’m very rusty at it, but I like the opportunity to be a people-person,” Reeves says.