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Legislators hear from advocacy groups

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November 9, 2007

Thomasville--  Representative Mike Keown was surprised when the southwest chapter of the Georgia Rehabilitation Association presented him with their legislative advocacy award. 

"Whenever I come to a meeting like this I'm always encouraged. Because I see people who have overcome very difficult obstacles and are succeeding in life," Keown says.

One such person is Katherine Woodall.  This morning she told the group how vocational rehabilitation got her back on her feet and working again despite her disability. 

Matthew Barnes is another success story. Complications from an operation on a brain tumor left him permanently disabled. But he hasn't let that slow him down.  "There's a couple of physical problems that I have, but I work full time, more than full time sometimes but I'm blessed with my position, my job," Barnes says.  He now works at Albany's Advocacy Resource center, helping other people with disabilities.

Its stories like these that are opening people's eyes.  "I just think its important for us to be here to hear what's going on with people who are struggling with daily issues who really just want to go to work and need opportunities," Keown says. 

And it's the organizations who advocate for them that are making things happen.  "It encourages me to go back and try to find more ways to maybe put some money in certain situations or make some changes in the law that will allow these people to succeed in life," says Keown.

Because in order to succeed, "You always got to try. Try first. Don't listen to other people, you're the expert of what you can do," says Barnes.  Words of wisdom from someone who knows first hand what it takes to make it.

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