Gloria Crider is an administrative assistant within the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services. She is retiring in January after nearly 43 years with the agency. She is helping organize the Calhoun County Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities awards luncheon this October.
What is your connection to our community?
I am from Rock Run, in Cherokee County. I was raised on a small cotton farm. When I graduated from Spring Garden High School, I went to Gadsden State Community College and got my degree in health and human services.
How long have you been with the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services?
I came to work here on May 14, 1975. We had our grand opening of the Woodstock location in the second week of July that year. We built that building at that location, and Rose Kilby donated the land to us but said if we ever moved, we had to donate it back to the school. That building was 12,000 square feet, and our current office is 30,000 square feet.
How did you begin working with ADRS?
I began working here while I was going to Gadsden State. I was 19 years old, and I was a clerk stenographer I. I have been working here for 42 years, and I will be retiring in January. They call me the go-to person; it is nice to be that person some days, and other days, it is not (laughs).
Why did you study for a degree in health and human services?
One of my professors told me one day, “You have a great personality, and you are so good with people. You are so understanding.” There was a young lady in our class that had challenges, and I was always wanting to help her, so my professor said I ought to think about this field. I took the state test, and I could have been called to any department, but I was called to the Department of Rehabilitation Services. At that time we were under the Department of Education, and in 1985, our commissioner, Lamona Lucas, asked me to serve on the Governor’s Task Force and asked me to do some research because we were looking for information to write a bill to become our own department. Our bill was passed, and we have been the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services since then.
What is ADRS?
We are the only state agency that works with folks from birth to death. We have early intervention, children’s rehabilitation, independent living and vocational rehab. There are about 42 people in this office, if you put together all the departments. We have 21 field offices across the state of Alabama, with services available in every county.
What is unique about Alabama’s Department of Rehabilitation Services?
I am the president of our state association, and when I give my report at the regional conference, most new folks are surprised to learn that our agency is the only one with children’s rehabilitation services. The other states do not have that, and that is a bragging point for me. We have had some slim funding years, but we always make it some way.
Tell us about the awards luncheon on Oct. 10.
This is our 30th year to have the luncheon. It is open to the public; tickets are $16 each or $128 for a corporate table. It will be on the 11th floor of the Houston Cole Library at Jacksonville State University, and it will start at 11:30 a.m. We recognize employers that hire our consumers, employee of the year, educator of the year, student of the year, partner of the year and legislator or public servant award. Judge Brian Howell received that award a few years ago, because he was very active and went out of his way to make sure the mentally ill received fair treatment.
Faith Dorn is a freelance writer in Anniston. Contact her at email@example.com.