Kearbey earns prestigious award

Tuesday, December 7, 2021
Robin Thomas of West Plains (left) presents Kathie Kearbey of Poplar Bluff with the Missouri 2021 Rehabilitation Association Stevinson Award for outstanding service and contributions to persons with disabilities.
DAR/Barbara Ann Horton

A Poplar Bluff, Missouri, woman received the Stevinson Award, the most prestigious honor given by the Missouri Rehabilitation Association.

Kathie Kearbey was surprised Tuesday at the Independent Living Center of Southeast Missouri by coworkers from across southern Missouri.

“I am beyond honored,” said Kearbey, who recently retired after working two decades with persons with disabilities.

Robin Thomas of West Plains, district supervisor at Missouri Department of Vocational Rehabilitation Springfield-Branson, Missouri Area, presented the award.

“We are here today to honor a lady who is a fascinating woman that I’m so proud to have been a colleague, to work with her for 11 years,” Thomas said. “We nominated Kathie for what we call the Stevinson Award. This award stands singularly as the most prestigious honor given by the Missouri Rehabilitation Association.”

The recipient must have made a significant or outstanding contribution toward meeting the needs of persons with disabilities with whom she has had contact and must have consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty to help persons with disabilities and have been recognized by her peers for doing so.

“We just want to say thank you, Kathie, for everything that you’ve done for all of us,” Thomas said. “Anytime we needed help, we knew who we could reach out to and we’re just honored to be able to have worked with you.”

Kearbey provided services to help individuals through the Independent Living Center, where she was employed before her recent retirement. She also worked with vocational rehabilitation individuals, providing support through what’s called certified benefits planning, which helped individuals who were receiving social security disability. It helped them understand how working and the benefits would work.

“I’m so delighted they would think of me and give me this award on my retirement. It’s a nice top off,” Kearbey said.

She explained she’s going to volunteer for the Butler County Community Resource Council, the Job Olympics and the transition network.

Away from the office and volunteer projects, Kearbey said, “I do puzzles and I read a lot. I do write poetry sometimes. I’m still recovering from back surgery. There are still a few parts that are broken.”

Also attending the celebration was Paul D’Amico of Piedmont, who is with the University of Missouri Pre-Employment transitions services; Amanda Savoie of West Plains, a vocational rehabilitation counselor; and Debbie Bell of Poplar Bluff, Independent Living Programs director.

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