VR3: Making a Difference
Q1, Quality One, Quality happens one person at a time
VR3  Ready...Reliable...Results April 2015

One step at a time to success

Former VR client Leanne Taylor is the office manager at the office of Dr. Gill Thomas, optometrist.

“Everything is a process,” says Leanne Taylor. “You have to go through the steps. And once you get going, you can run. And I feel like I'm sprinting now. I have to catch my breath!”

Leanne is full of enthusiasm and energy.

“It’s exciting to be on the receiving end of things. The longer I’m clean, the more I realize that you get out of life what you put into it. If I send good out into the world, I get good in return.”

She is the office manager for Dr. Gill Thomas, an optometrist in Clinton. “I interpret the prescriptions Dr. Thomas writes to find the best glasses for the patient’s needs. I have to find out what kind of job they do, how they are going to use the glasses, and find the best fit for them.”

Leanne is also halfway to becoming a licensed optician. “I'm working on getting those letters behind my name,” she says with pride. “It may sound like nothing, but it’s pretty cool to me.”

But seven years ago, things were different. Seven years ago, Leanne was a methamphetamine user. Seven years ago, she was arrested and charged for distribution of meth. She was given a 10 year sentence, suspended to 90 days house arrest and two years of probation.

“I called my grandmother, and she said, 'Are you okay?' I said, 'Yes ma'am.' She didn't ask me what I had done, she just said, 'I love you, Leanne. I miss you. I really hope this is your bottom. Come back to us.'”

And then her grandmother hung up the phone. She would not accept any further calls.

Leanne cried. A lot.

“But my grandmother was absolutely right,” she reflects. “That is the best thing she ever did for me. And I can't imagine how hard that was for her.”

Leanne takes a deep breath before continuing. “Her voice cracked when she said it, but she just put her foot down.”

Not only was she in jail, but Leanne had recently lost the job she had with Dr. Thomas. “I was a horrible employee. I was late, I would lay about, I just was not dependable. I was not good for his office.”

She had also lost custody of her two oldest daughters.

Leanne had hit her bottom.

“You know, an addict has to decide on their own when they’re ready. You decide you are simply not going to use.”

Then she came to Holmesview Center, one of VR’s two residential substance abuse treatment facilities.

“The most important thing I got at Holmesview was a plan,” she says. “I didn’t know how to function anymore. The addiction took all that away. I didn't know how to make it better and I didn’t want to be the way I was. I was miserable. And they told me what to do.”

During her 28 days at Holmesview, Leanne worked closely with the staff to build the foundation for her recovery.

“It gave me hope,” she says. “Holmesview was wonderful for me.”

One day at a time—one step at a time—Leanne got better.

After completing the program at Holmesview she received services and assistance at the Laurens VR office that would help her return to work. Part of that assistance included helping her purchase uniforms and arranging on the job training at the office of her former employer, Dr. Thomas.

Before Leanne left her job in 2008, Dr. Thomas had called her into his office.

“He told me, ‘Leanne, you are great at this,’” she remembers. “‘If you get yourself together, I’ll give you your job back.’”

At the end of the two-week training period, in June 2011, Dr. Thomas offered Leanne a full time position, telling her, “We want you. You’re who we thought you could be.”

“Since then, I’ve worked my way up to office manager,” adds Leanne. “It’s absolutely wonderful! I also get to do the frame buying. When the reps come in, I pick out all of the frames for the store. I love sitting down with reps and picking out glasses. It’s a lot of fun.”

Leanne is also grateful and humbled by the trust she is now given. Like everything since 2008, earning people’s trust has also been a process. A very rewarding process. “I have a key to the office. I’m allowed to make deposits. Dr. Thomas comes to me and asks, ‘How do you want to do this?’ He respects me professionally because I’ve earned it.”

Every other weekend, Leanne now spends with her eight-year-old daughter. Her 11-year-old daughter not only spent the entire summer with her, but also Christmas.

“I got to spend Christmas morning with my oldest daughter,” she says, grinning from ear to ear. “That’s the first time in six years. That relationship is just getting stronger and better.”

Leanne is honest with her children. They know that she wasn’t there for them for a period of time and that it was because of drugs and the choices she was making.

“My kids are learning that everybody makes mistakes and you can bounce back from them. What's important is not the mistake. What's important is the fact that you get up and try again. Everybody's going to make mistakes. It's how you deal with the mistake.”

Leanne also talks to her grandmother every day. “Every morning she texts me, 'Good morning, I love you.' We have our little morning texts. She would do anything for me. And the best thing she did was not put up with my [drug abuse].”

In October, six years and one day after becoming clean, Leanne sat in a hearing to determine if she would be pardoned. She had already been released from probation in March, 2011 for model behavior. Dr. Thomas, a co-worker, and Chad Ulmer, Laurens Area Supervisor, wrote letters of recommendation. Her grandmother attended the hearing with her.

“They let you know on the spot if you make it. Talk about suspense!” she exclaims. “They came out after a few minutes and said, ‘Congratulations, young lady.’”

Leanne has been featured in a Laurens newspaper story about VR. She has also spoken at VR events in Laurens, and she appears in a video produced by VR about the Holmesview and Palmetto Center Treatment Centers.

“I have people contact me because of the newspaper article. Patients come in and say, ‘I saw you in the paper. I’m so proud of you.’ There was a woman who saw the video who tracked me down. She told me, ‘If you did this, I knew I could. And I’m clean now.’ I saw you and I knew it could be done.’

“That just brought me to tears. I was so grateful that I helped her, that I gave her hope. Because hope is a powerful thing. And it can save you. Addiction makes you so alone. It isolates you. And you forget anybody and everybody that cared about you.

“I’ve referred a lot of people to Voc Rehab because it helped me so much.”

Leanne’s goal two years ago was to become completely self sufficient.

“I have accomplished that. I live on my own. I pay all the bills. If something breaks, I fix it,” she says with pride and satisfaction.

“If I keep going the way I've been—oh my gosh, in two years it will be even more amazing. I'm very excited for what my future holds. The possibilities are endless for what I can do.”

Around the state

Q Quotes

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.

—Winston S. Churchhill

Did you know...

...that SCVRD’s substance abuse treatment services will be enhanced by new facilities at Palmetto Center in Florence?

The state legislature funded the improvements in 2013 and construction is scheduled to begin later this year.


February 4 - The Greenville Area Office and Holmesview Center will hold our Annual Workplace Health Screening.
February 13 - The Tim Tebow Foundation “Night to Shine” Prom, an event sponsored for special needs high school students. Counselor Vaneasha Danzy, along with staff of the Greenville County School District, will be volunteering.
  For more information, call 864-297-3066
Rock Hill
February 11, 10am-2pm - Job Fair featuring employers from Rock Hill, York, Chester, Fort Mill and Charlotte, including Verizon Wireless, New Hope, Texas Roadhouse, Sam’s Club, and Charlotte Area Transit (CATS).
  For more information, call 803-327-7106
February 24, 10am-1pm - Job and Talent Fair Expo at the SC Works building in Aiken. This event is a collaborative effort with SC Works and DSS. All attendees will participant in an intense job readiness preparation.
March 4, 9am-11:30am - The Business Partner Expo will introduce current and potential business partners to VR and the services we provide. Attendees will tour our facility, and learn about our capabilities and how we may be able to meet their needs.
  For more information, call 803-641-7630 or 800-861-9410
February 25 - BounceBack seminar.
  For more information, call 803-896-633 or 866-206-5184
February 26, 9am-12pm - Job Fair.
  For more information, call 864-224-6391
March 4 - The Lancaster Area Office is hosting a BounceBack seminar for individuals with criminal backgrounds, which is designed to help them learn more about available community resources. In addition to discussing employment tips and strategies, guest speakers from local agencies will provide information to assist the individual in returning to the work force.
  For more information, call 803-285-6909
March 12 - Spartanburg Job Fair.
  For more information, call 864-585-3693 or 866-451-1480

Preparing and assisting eligible South Carolinians with disabilities to achieve and maintain competitive employment

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