Meet Myra, a local Sevier County resident who was homeless in 2014. Her family passed away and with both mental & physical disabilities, Myra fell on hard times. Though her parents left her their home, it was severely run down from years of neglect and literally irreparable. That winter the heat pump went out and sections of the roof caved in allowing animals, rain, and snow into the home. It was declared uninhabitable. It was cold; Myra had no money, no resources, and no place to go. The final blow came when the State of TN turned down her request for assistance. Here was Myra, a lifelong resident of Sevier County, alone, homeless and without the most basic human needs.
Heartland Services stepped in and with no funding gave Myra a room at the Mildred Miller Group Home in Sevierville. Since that time, many things have changed for her. Staff took her to Nashville where she met with State Representative, Jeremy Faison. She sat in his office and simply stated… “I don’t want to be homeless”. Mr. Faison met with the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and secured assistance for Myra. Then by using another service provided by Heartland Services, Myra was able to obtain a job. She works part time, continues to reside at the group home and is doing well.
Sadly, Myra represents numerous others in Sevier, Blount, Jefferson, and Cocke Counties that need our help. They are your friends and neighbors that fall through the cracks of our society.
Richie has been coming to Heartland Services’ Day Program for many years. Through our agency’s vocational training program, Richie has also been employed for several years at Aunt Granny’s restaurant in Dollywood, along with other individuals supported by our agency. Then the program shut down. With Heartland Services’ staff assistance, Richie continued to stay busy volunteering at many events in Sevier County, but he still desired to be gainfully employed and to make his own money.
Day Program staff began working with Richie on his desires to become employed once again. They helped him with mock interviews and other necessary vocational skills. He got a great job at the Local Goat restaurant, rolling silverware, until that position was no longer available.
Richie’s love is in the fashion world; he is a talented artist and enjoys designing clothes in his free time at the agency’s Day Program. With encouragement from staff and from the agency’s Employment Specialist, Richie focused on practicing skills related to fashion fabrics, such as matching and organizing clothing into the same styles, folding, arranging clothing, etc.
With continued support from his Employment Specialist, Richie applied for a position in the gift shop at Ripley’s Aquarium, keeping the shelves organized, and keeping shirts folded and together in the same design. Richie was enjoying his job and doing very well at the Aquarium. He had acquired the skills necessary to maintain employment. But when the COVID pandemic began in March of 2020, he was unable to continue working.
Recently, with the assistance from his Heartland Services Job Coach, Richie was able to go back to work at the Aquarium. He is very excited that he is making his “own money” and he is ready every workday to go in to work. He meets a lot of people from all over and is excited to see and meet new people. When not working, he is taken out into the community by our Day Program staff, to places of his choice and to visit with friends.
Richie’s successful employment and continued involvement in his community has been made possible with the funding from the United Way.
LaRhonda came to Sevierville from our Cocke County location, while at the Cocke County location she worked with a group at various locations throughout the county and volunteered at several locations. Once in Sevier County LaRhonda continued her volunteer work, but wanted very much to get a job, but was having a challenging time securing employment. She lacked the skills necessary to have a successful interview, therefore was not having any luck in finding a job. LaRhonda began working with the Day Program staff and our Employment Specialist in filling out applications, mock interviews, and other pre-vocational skills. LaRhonda was able to interview at Burger King and was hired. She now works 3 days a week and proudly carries her paystub with her and shows everyone she can that she now has a job and loves working.
With the help of her Employment Specialist and the support of her Job Coach and developing natural supports at her location of employment she has successfully developed the skills necessary to maintain integrated employment in the community. LaRhonda comes to the Day Program every day with excitement and prepared to go to work. She continues to have the Job Coach check on her just to give her support if needed to maintain her employment. She has developed friendships at work that she may not otherwise had without the assistance from the Adult Day Services Program.
LaRhonda’s success, in part, was made possible with funding from the United Way.