Arkansas Rehabilitation Association News

Message from the 2010-2011 ARA President

Many of you know that this has been a challenging year for the Arkansas Rehabilitation Association (ARA) and your ARA board. This will be the first year, in my memory, that ARA will hold an Annual Training Conference without a major partner. I am, however, excited about the conference we are planning! Dr. Penny Willmering and Deborah Wooten are co-chairing the conference planning committee this year. A call for proposals was sent out a couple of months ago and we have had an encouraging response. There is still time to get your proposal submitted…the deadline for proposal submission is March 21st, 2011, so if you would like to present at the ARA conference this year please complete the proposal packet, and if you need a packet see the last section of this newsletter or email Dr. Willmering at

Dr. Willmering has secured a contract with the Dancing Moose Production Company and they will be presenting Ethics: A Musical Comedy on Friday evening during the banquet. I have heard from many people around the country who have seen this production and it has been highly recommended by all. We have invited Sara Sundeen, National Rehabilitation Association President-Elect, to provide a keynote address on Friday morning and are in the process of securing another nationally known speaker for the keynote on Saturday. We have also planned two preconference sessions on Thursday that will focus on the topics of ethics and job development and placement.

The theme of this year’s conference will be “New Beginnings.” I proposed this theme to the ARA board because we are in the process of examining everything about the conference and the way we operate since we are the sole major sponsor of the Annual Training Conference this year. You will find the tentative conference agenda below and you will immediately notice that the dates are in June instead of May and that the format of the conference has changed a bit. We are hopeful that this new schedule will allow you to gain valuable continuing education credits and training without missing large amounts of time at work. The conference planning committee has put forth a great deal of thought and effort in scheduling this conference to make the best use of our time together. Please find the current draft of the 2011 ARA Annual Training Conference schedule below:


Thursday, June 16, 2011
9:30 AM - 11:30 AM ARA Board Meeting
9:30 AM - 12:00 Noon Set-up for Silent Auction and Exhibits (tentative)
12 Noon - 4:30 PM Silent Auction/Exhibits (tentative)
12:00 Noon - 2:00 PM JPD Pre-Conference Session 2 hours
2:00 PM - 2:30 PM Break
2:30 PM - 4:30 PM Ethics Workshop 2 hours
5:00 PM - 8:00 PM ARA President’s Reception (Sponsored by
ARCA/ARCEA, Hosted by Snell Prosthetics and Orthotics)

Friday, June 17, 2011
8:00 - 4:00 Registration
12:00 - 4:00 Election
8:00 - 4:00 Silent Auction/Exhibits
8:45 - 9:45 Concurrent Session 1 hour
9:45 - 10:00 Break
10:00 - 11:30 General Session 1 1/2 hour
11:30 - 1:00 Luncheon
1:00 - 2:30 Concurrent Sessions 1 1/2 hour
2:30 - 3:00 Break
3:00 - 4:30 Concurrent Sessions 1 1/2 hour
4:30 - 6:00 On your Own/Meetings
6:00 - 9:30 Dancing Moose 3 hours

Saturday, June 18, 2011
8:00 - 12 Registration
8:00 - 12 Election Continued
8:00 - 12 Silent Auction/Exhibits
8:45 -9:45 Concurrent Sessions 1 hour
9:45 - 10:00 Break
10:00 -11:30 General Session 1 1/2 hour
11:30 - 12:00 Noon Set-up for luncheon
Lunch on your own
12:00 - 3:00 Awards Luncheon/Business Meeting
1:30 - 3:00 Concurrent Sessions 1 1/2 hour
3:00-3:15 Break
3:15 - 4:45 Concurrent session 1 1/2 hour

As your ARA President-elect and President, I have had the opportunity to attend not only the ARA Conference this past year, but trainings out of state. At the 2010 Governmental Affairs Summit, I was able to make contact with our Senators and Representatives on the National level. When the delegation met with each member or their staff, there was a very positive reception to ARA issues. The Congressional delegation on the National level were knowledgeable about the needs of the disability community, but urged our organization to always bring issues to their attention.

In June 2010, the Southwest Region National Rehabilitation Association (SWNRA) put on a great training conference in Corpus Christi, TX with the NRA President in attendance. I was impressed with our regional meeting and the variety of training sessions offered. The session that I remember most clearly focused on preparing rehabilitation counselors to be of help to people considering suicide, and Dr. Lewis, of Langston University, urged rehabilitation counselors to talk to their clients about their problems because it only takes one interested party to prevent a tragedy.

In October 2010, I had the opportunity to attend the National Rehabilitation Association’s Annual Training Conference in New Orleans, LA co-sponsored by the Louisiana Rehabilitation Association. It was a good, informative Conference in a great city still in recovery from hurricane Katrina. The title says it all, “Let the Good Times Roll.” Bonnie Hawley, 2010 NRA President, said it best, “A visit to New Orleans always includes Good Times, but I believe you will find some excellent training available during our conference, too.” I have been an attendee at several NRA conferences throughout my 10 years with ARA/NRA and this year’s National Conference was one of the best ones yet. With the new leadership at the National level, many positive things have taken place at NRA but many are still to come. Beverlee Stafford, NRA Executive Director, has done a great job in administering the day-to-day business of the Association. She has many plans to continue with positive movement toward goals that will better serve the membership.

As we move into 2011, preparation for the 2011 ARA Annual Training Conference continues. Many people will come together to plan, develop, and pull the Conference together. I have asked several individuals already to chair committees, but I am always looking for anyone who would like to participate in the planning stages. If you would like to be a member of the planning but don’t know what is needed or where you could serve the best, please contact Dr. Penny Willmering, Deborah Wooten, or me. We welcome your involvement, ideas, and suggestions. Each year finds many challenges before us as rehabilitation professionals, but, as always, the ARA “family” comes together to put on a great training. Not just one or two people put a conference together. It takes a dedicated board and membership to make a conference successful.

I look forward to seeing everyone in Hot Springs in June. I expect this to be the best ARA training conference, yet.


Tresvil G. Pack, Ph.D., CRC, LPC
President, Arkansas Rehabilitation Association

I am humbled and honored to be writing to you from the President-Elect’s “desk”. As many of you know, I have been a long time supporter of professional associations, a voice for rehabilitation professionals, and an advocate for people with disabilities. I pledge to bring that passion and dedication to ARA, and commit to providing quality leadership while being responsive to your needs.

It is going to be an exciting year for our Association, and one of the most exciting events will be the annual training conference scheduled for June 16th-18th in Hot Springs. A variety of training opportunities, chances to earn those most coveted CEU’s, and opportunities for networking will be in abundance. You will find information about the conference at the end of this newsletter, and I anticipate that we will have a complete agenda ready for your review in the next few weeks.

In addition to assisting with a quality conference, I aspire to serve the Association through three major goals in the upcoming year. One goal is to continue the wonderful accomplishments started last year by Debbie Wooten and the Board of Directors. The second goal is to support Dr. Pack in his role as President this year. Last year he made several great suggestions, including launching an electronic journal and engaging in service projects. I pledge to support our progress forward as we investigate the possibility of these suggestions.

The third and most important goal is to continue ARA’s growth as a vibrant, successful association that meets the needs of its membership. In order to accomplish this, I am calling on ALL members to become involved in ARA. Involvement can occur at many levels and take a few minutes to a few months - depending on where your interests lie. Contributions to the Association might be as simple as sending an e-mail to your Board with a suggestion or concern, updating your contact information, referring a new member, and renewing your membership when it comes due. Or, your involvement can be as complex as volunteering to serve on a committee, assist with conference planning, developing the electronic journal, assisting with a service project, and/or running for a leadership position with ARA.

It is only with the ongoing support and involvement of ARA’s membership that we can remain the strong Association that we are! In return for your involvement, I pledge to be responsive to your needs and concerns and, to continue to develop an Association in which you can proudly claim membership.
I want every member to say, “YES, I AM a member of ARA!”

Please join us for an exciting year of growth! If you would like to get involved in ARA or one of its divisions please contact myself, Dr. Pack, or the president of the division in which you would like to be involved.

Otherwise, I look forward to seeing all of you in Hot Springs in June.

Warmest Regards,
Penny P. Willmering, Ph.D., CRC, LPC


ARA continues to provide leadership in the field of rehabilitation into the future with their extensive scholarship programs. There are seven scholarships, which have been established in order that students can attend one of many Arkansas institutions of higher education and major in the field of rehabilitation counseling or rehabilitation science. The scholarship program was established in 1997 and the last scholarship was added in 2008. Each scholarship recipient has been awarded at least $1500 a year.



Always wanted to be a leader for ARA or any of the Association Divisions? Then we are looking for YOU. While it takes organizational skills, time, and the ability to work well with others, the main thing it takes is passion and caring about the field! If you are interested in running for election, please contact:
 Dr. Penny Willmering at, and she will put you in touch with the appropriate individual.



 Vickie Wilson, October 29, 2011 (retired from Arkansas Rehabilitation Services)
 Chet Stuart, February 18, 2-11 (retired from Arkansas Rehabilitation Services)


Deborah Wooten recently retired from her position as field counselor of 20 years with Arkansas Rehabilitation Services. As a field counselor, she worked with individuals with disabilities in an effort to provide them the opportunity of entering or returning to the work force. She was committed to assisting working age adults with disabilities in obtaining the skills and abilities needed to become productive employees. Ms. Wooten is a graduate of Harding University, and holds a Master’s of Science Degree in Education. She completed 15 in post-graduate hours at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and has CRC certification. She has been affiliated with Arkansas Rehabilitation Services (ARS) for the past nineteen (19) years, first as a Job Placement Specialist working for the Association of Rehabilitation Industry and Business (ARIB) within the ARS unit, and secondly, as a Rehabilitation Counselor for ARS. As a person with a disability, she has been able to provide a personal insight and direction to her position as counselor that many consumers relate to and react to in their efforts to become a productive member of society.

As a very active ARS employee and member of Arkansas Rehabilitation Association (ARA). Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe appointed Deborah to the State Rehabilitation Council October 1, 2009. She will serve in that capacity until February 1, 2012. She is the current Past-president of the Arkansas Rehabilitation Association (ARA) as well as Past-President of the Arkansas Rehabilitation Counseling Association (ARCA), Past-president of Arkansas Rehabilitation Counselors and Educators Association (ARCEA), current Treasurer of the Southwest Region/National Rehabilitation Association (NRA), Past- President of the Southwest Region National Rehabilitation Counseling Association (SWNRCA),and Past-treasurer of the Southwest Region National Rehabilitation Association/Job Placement Division (SWNRA/JPD).

She has served as a Board Member at Large on the PAIR/ Advocacy Services Advisory Council, as a Board Member At Large of MINDANET, as President of the White County Disability Task Force, as Vice-President of the Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Council for ARS, and as a Representative on the National Board on Disabilities representing White County. Ms. Wooten has served as a Board Member on the Arkansas Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (ARCSPD), as a member of the Wilbur D. Mills Regional Transition Team, and has served as a member of the Comprehensive System of Personnel Development Task Force of ARS. She has

served as Vice-President of NRA/ARA/JPD for four (4) years, as ARA Silent Auction Chairperson for six (6) years, member of ARS Multi-Cultural Diversity Task Force for three (3) years, and as Secretary for ARCA for two (2) years. She has also completed the ARS Leadership Institute intensive training program and is actively involved in the vision, values, and mission of the Leadership Institute. Also, she has completed the Community Leadership in Change Knowledge Training offered through ARS. In May, 1999, at the ARS Training Institute and Conference, she was awarded the Counselor of the Year Award from the National Rehabilitation Counseling Association /Arkansas Branch. In 2008, she received the ARA President’s award for her service to ARA. In 2008 and 2009, Deborah received the President’s Award for Outstanding Service to Persons with Disabilities from the Southwest Region National Rehabilitation Association. Recently at the 2010 Southwest Regional National Rehabilitation Association Conference in Corpus Christi, TX, she was awarded the Volye C. Scurlock award for her outstanding contribution in rehabilitation, displayed outstanding leadership in rehabilitation; exhibited dedicated efforts to further the causes of programs for persons with disabilities; or have been active with any special activity of recognized importance in the field of rehabilitation.

Since her retirement, she has been very active with the Arkansas Rehabilitation Association, serving as co-chair for the 2011 ARA Training Conference. She feels very strongly that her involvement in Rehabilitation programs assisting individuals to become more active in the rehabilitation field. Whether it be working on a Conference or just informing the general public regarding rehabilitation programs at local, state, or federal level, she is extremely involved.
We all will miss Debbie at ARS, but we are so lucky to have her as a valued ARA leader!


Information from the Vice President
My usual membership drive goes on all year, but really picks up in April. Help us recruit new members who will receive all of the benefits of membership in one of the strongest state chapters of the National Rehabilitation Association. Recruitment also benefits ARA by bringing new talent into the membership. To learn more about the benefits of membership visit the NRA website ( and click on membership.

ARA currently has about 280 members. We are a membership driven association and we need the help of all of our members to grow our rolls. If each of our members recruited only one new member this year we could have almost 600 members by the end of the conference in June. Many of the people working in community rehabilitation programs, independent living centers, and other vendors of ARS are not currently members of ARA. If you have a relationship with one of these folks take a few minutes of your time to tell them what ARA membership means to you and invite them to join.

Arkansas Rehabilitation Association proudly announces “New Beginnings”: A Training Conference

Where: Arlington Hotel and Resort in Beautiful Hot Springs, Arkansas
When: June 16-18th, 2011

Highlights include:
Opportunity to earn up to 20 CEUs
Opportunity to earn up to 5 hours of Ethics (Includes “Dancing Moose”)
Training geared to a wide variety of rehabilitation professionals who
work in varied settings
Preconference training: 2 hours Job Placement, 2 hours Ethics
Keynote addresses featuring Nationally Known Speakers
Awards Banquet

Want more details?

Contact: Dr. Penny Willmering at or Ms. Debbie Wooten at