When counselor Erin Lloyd began working with Shay Ruff, who interned with Blue Ridge Independent Living Center (BRILC) in Roanoke, Virginia back in 2007, she had no way of knowing that she would eventually become an employee. Ten years later, in the spring of 2017, Shay was hired for a new position, as a Youth Transition Coordinator. She worked with her DARS Placement Counselor and, once hired, was introduced to Erin Lloyd, a Vocational Counselor with The Choice Group. She and her employer communicated about the position and worked together to ensure accommodations were in place, so that Shay had a work environment in which she felt comfortable. She and her Vocational Counselor worked closely as she began learning her position and adjusted to working in an office setting four days each week. Shay set goals for herself, initially wanting to stay employed there three, and then six months. Almost two years later, Shay is still working with BRILC and speaks of her position with pride. She has a strong work ethic, an interest in helping others, and a supportive employer. Part of her role is to work with youth with disabilities and help them learn how to advocate for themselves and build independent living skills while transitioning into adulthood.
Shay has a strong sense of self-advocacy, even being featured on the local news communicating the need for increased public transportation, including paratransit, in the Roanoke Valley. She has been a leader in advocacy groups and graduated from Radford University, where she studied social work. She markets services that BRILC offers the community and has a passion for her field. With a smile that rarely leaves her face when speaking of her work, Shay is always happy to answer questions and help others.