There is lots of talking going on as part of the coming elections. A common opinion here is that government is bad and should be made as small as possible. Government entitlement programs should be eliminated, or made much smaller. Don’t raise taxes to deal with the national debt- cut programs. It is apparent that many folks do not understand how these programs help the economy, not just the individual receiving the benefit. With that in mind, here’s my story about how government has been very good to me, and to Mason.
When I moved to Mason, I had been on disability for several years. I was very ill, and couldn’t do much. Over time my health began to surprisingly improve. I approached Texas Rehabilitative Services for help acquiring faceting equipment, as I had little money due to my inability to work for some time. They bought my first faceting machine, and I set to work cutting Mason topaz. As part of the process of using Texas Rehab, I was entered into the Social Security program, Ticket to Work. Uncle Sam gave me approximately five years to find my way back to productivity, without a penalty. My disability income continued while I tried to become a contributing member of society again.
Below is a report from DARS, which included my story. I could not have become the current gem cutter in Mason without the help of Social Security Disability and the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services. Mason would not have a cutter to continue the local tradition of a local gem cutter. Mason would not have a local jewelry store without government entitlement programs. Mason would not have visitors from all over the state coming here to buy locally produced gems and jewelry, and spend a little time in town as well.
Next time you hear or say that knee jerk reaction of killing entitlement programs, think of me and others that have been helped by these programs. Think about how it didn’t just put me back to work, it helped our town. It put customers in restaurants, gas stations, and accommodations.
DEPARTMENT OF ASSISTIVE AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES ANNUAL REPORT 2009
Diane Eames: Creating a Community Treasure
A talented gemologist can take a rock, identify its unique features, and turn that rough stone into a shining piece of great value. You might say that’s what DARS did for Diane Eames, a gemologist from Mason.
When she applied to DARS in 2006, Diane had lived with chronic fatigue syndrome for 20 years and fibromyalgia for a decade. She had been receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and was dealing with depression, which was in part due to her battles with her illnesses.
Despite these challenges, Diane wanted to cut and facet topaz and sell it as beautiful jewelry. Working together, DARS Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Linda Payne and Diane developed a plan that enabled Diane to receive the training and certifications she needed to reach her goal. DARS also helped Diane obtain equipment to cut and facet gemstones.
“Because I was persistent in seeking a path to become a contributing member of the community, y’all helped make it happen...”
Three years later, Diane has her own store where she polishes, cuts, and sells her own Mason County Topaz. She also cuts and sells gemstones brought in by other local gemologists.
In February, two special celebrations took place in Diane’s store. One commemorated Governor Rick Perry’s proclamation of March 26, 2009, as Texas Mason County Topaz Day. The second was her wedding reception.
Diane has succeeded in spite of her health problems. She has a thriving business in the Mason community, and she is no longer on SSDI.
Diane wrote the DARS staff, “Because I was persistent in seeking a path to become a contributing member of the community, y’all helped make it happen. You supplied the tools and guidance to try a new direction, and it worked. It’s amazing. Your help contributed to my success and also the creation of a company that supports two other people. It created a store that is very important to the community. DARS helped the entire community.”
It’s not hard for Diane to be reminded of her blessings. On her finger she wears a gift from her husband, a topaz ring that was cut, faceted, and polished from the large rough stone she used to start her business.
B. Diane Eames, GG
Graduate Gemologist (GIA)