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2012 Families of Distinction Named


Courtney Sowels, Robin and Rick Johnston and Cody Sowels
5/23/2012

SALINE COUNTY FAMILY OF DISTINCTION

With the help of the WADI CSBG scholarship, Robin Johnston was able to further her education. She earned her Associate’s in Business Management from SIC, Bachelor’s in Business Administration from SIU at Carbondale and a Master’s in Public Administration. Robin now works with the University of Illinois Extension Office in Harrisburg, teaching families and children about nutrition. In addition, she presents nutrition education at Head Start Parent Meetings in Saline County. Rick works at Coleman Tri County and Turner Manor as a Life Skills Trainer.
Both of Robin’s children, Courtney and Cody, who had a great beginning in the Head Start program, have been able to earn higher degrees as well – Cody works at CSI Mining in Harrisburg and Courtney just completed her doctorate in pharmacology and started work at CVS making over a hundred thousand a year.  Pictured left is Courtney Sowels, Robin and Rick Johnston and Cody Sowels.
EDWARDS COUNTY FAMILY OF DISTINCTION
Sally Stevens has always been a working mom to provide for her five children. Even though she wanted to be a nurse, she put it on the back burner because of having small children. If you know Sally then you know she has a very caring nature, you see it as she has cared for her disabled daughter and for her other children. A few years after caring for her terminally ill husband, Sally was more determined than ever to become a nurse. She did what many of us are not courageous enough to do: she quit a full-time job to go back to school. Sally began her support classes in 2008, was accepted into the nursing program, and has now been working full time as a Licensed Practical Nurse since 2010. Although Sally’s family is now self-sufficient, it was WADI programs such as energy assistance, CSBG Emergency Services, Weatherization and local programs that provided the support services she needed while she was on her path to self-sufficiency. Sally is employed at Oakview Heights Alzheimer’s Unit in Mt Carmel and plans to get married on May 12, 2012!
GALLATIN COUNTY FAMILY OF DISTINCTION
Melissa Reynolds decided she needed to further her education so she went back to school, earning two Associate Degrees. While in college, Melissa became a single parent with a child who had special needs. She enrolled him in the WADI Head Start home based program. Her daughter, Kayla, is enrolled in Head Start Center and her youngest son, Kole, is enrolled in our home based program. They moved from public housing to living in their own home, which is totally paid for. Melissa came to work for WADI as a Center Teacher and within 6 months was promoted to Center Supervisor. She is currently working on her Bachelor’s degree.
HAMILTON COUNTY FAMILY OF DISTINCTION
The Smith family has received help from WADI through energy assistance, weatherization and food pantry. The Weatherization that was done decreased energy costs and allowed more of their income to be used on other essential needs. In August 2009 both children were enrolled in the Head Start program. Samantha has graduated from the program and Serenity remained in Head Start until both parents received full-time jobs. Rainbow is now employed as a Family Health Assistant for WADI Head Start and Drew is working full-time as a hog farmer. 
WABASH COUNTY FAMILY OF DISTINCTION
Stacey Rafferty was a single mom at a low point in her life when she first came to WADI. She was raising her 7 year old son, Trenton, and had just been laid off from her job. Instead of giving up, she made the decision to improve her life by calling WADI to see what options were available to her. The Workforce Investment Act program paid for her tuition, books, and mileage reimbursement when she enrolled in the nursing program at Wabash Valley College. Although it wasn’t easy, Stacey graduated as a Registered Nurse in 2011. She is now a Cardiac Nurse at Deaconess Heart Hospital in Newburgh, Indiana. Stacey says that, “If it weren’t for the WADI office in Mt Carmel, I don’t know what would have happened to me and my son. WADI helped me go back to school at age 38.” While attending college, WADI helped the family with energy assistance and Weatherization. “Without the support of WADI, I fear I would have lost my home, my car and defaulted on loans.” Stacey is now self-sufficient and a great example to her son.
WAYNE COUNTY FAMILY OF DISTINCTION
Angela Jenkins first came to WADI as a Trade customer laid off from Airtex Products. She was working part-time at a local bank but was interested in the medical field. Using WADI as a resource, Angela entered training in 2010 in the Medical Office Assistant Program working towards an Associate degree while continuing to work part-time. A few weeks into the program, Angela’s husband, Jerry, was rushed to the hospital with a serious heart condition. In the next few days, Angela also fell ill and was rushed to a hospital in Indianapolis. A CAT scan revealed that she had a brain aneurysm located at the base of her brain in a vital and dangerous area. Every time Jerry asked where Angela was at, the family made excuses in order to keep him calm so he could rest. Once Angela was stabilized, she had brain surgery. Although it was a success, the doctors warned that she would have a long recovery ahead of her. In the meantime, Jerry was released from the hospital but was unable to travel the long distance to her hospital so they spoke on the phone a lot. Once Angela returned home, Jerry was stronger and able to help her. Angela was unable to drive or walk very long distances but no matter what, she was going to register for the spring semester! A determined Angela was true to her word and was released by her doctor on January 3, 2011. A short eight months later, Jerry was struck again with another illness. The news was devastating; Jerry was too weak to survive. Angela’s husband of 30 years passed away on September 5, 2011. Angela had much to deal with for over a year, none of it easy. Despite all she suffered, Angela remained strong, positive and steadfast in her faith. Due to taking extra classes in order to “catch up”, Angela is scheduled to graduate from college this coming May.
WHITE COUNTY FAMILY OF DISTINCTION
Alise Winter initially came to WADI when she was placed at WADI through the TANF Worker Job Placement program. She acquired secretarial skills by maintaining files, answering the phone, and providing customer assistance. Using the Family and Community Training Site she received her GED along with her husband, Joe. WADI provided rental information and utility assistance for the family to be able to get their own home and Head Start provides education for the household on child development and parenting skills. They are working hard to stay off cash assistance and she has maintained a job for several years now while Joe provides their child care.
 

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