City honors advocates for disabled residents

Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.


Champions for Wilson’s disabled residents were celebrated Thursday at the annual Disabilities Employment Awards luncheon.

“Our goal of this luncheon is to recognize those in our community that embrace, support and employ those with disabilities,” said Wilson Human Relations Director Renee Smith.

The Committee for Persons with Disabilities reviewed nominations received from the community for five categories to recognize people who have worked to remove barriers and provide services to Wilson disabled residents.

“His nomination letter stated, ‘He is the epitome of the phrase: Sometimes miracles are just good people with kind hearts,’” said committee secretary Michael Charrington regarding Professional of the Year Maurice Barnes, who works at the Daniels Learning Center for Wilson County Schools.

For educator of the year, Darden Middle School teacher Jennifer Watson was recognized for her guidance of disabled students.

“Her nomination letter stated, ‘This amazing teacher understands that students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,’” Barnes said. “She truly loves and cares for each of them.”

Altise Harris was honored as Advocate of the Year with the nomination stating that Harris works with people with special needs through education, tutoring and advocacy. Wilson House was selected as the Employer of the Year with several hires trained at Diversified Opportunities.

Employee of the Year was 27-year-old Brandon James, who has worked at Texas Steakhouse for nine years. He started by wrapping silverware and has been promoted to food preparation despite outlasting several managers through the years.

“As his letter of recommendation stated, ‘He loves his job and tells everyone, he shows his coworkers there is no excuse if you really want to do something. He is reliable, independent and a valuable contributing member of the team,’” Charrington said. “‘He comes in happy and ready to work every day. He shows the rest of us, and the world, never to limit yourself.’”

James’ mother Cynthia Jones proudly snapped pictures of James receiving his award at the lunch.

“It is great. It is so great,” Jones said. “It is well, well-deserved.”

Certificates of appreciation also were given to the other nominees: Claudia Baker with Veterans Residential Services, Roxana Blount with Wilson House, Geraldine Deloatch with Land of Learning Child Care Center, Amy Jo Davis with Amy Jo’s County Restaurant, Shawn Harriger with Food Lion on Peppermill Road and Denis Shreve with Murphy Family Farms.

For more information on the Wilson Committee for Persons with Disabilities, visit tinyurl.com/yczucg3k/.