Skip to main content

Okemah community educator finds perfect job with help from DRS Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

OKEMAH, Okla. – “The goals of our program encourage kids to reach their full potential in the classroom, in their families and outside in the community,” according to Audrey Church, community education coordinator for Anne Moroney Youth Services, also known as Okmulgee- Okfuskee County Youth Services.

Church works in Okfuskee County teaching curriculum with a proven track record for helping students from pre-kindergarten to high school. The lessons vary depending on grade level but they include avoiding bullying and drugs, and developing character and effective life skills.

Church has double vision or diplopia, a disorienting visual disability that causes people to see two of the same image instead of one. 

“Double vision has plagued me all of my life,” Church said. “My glasses have a prism and I’ve got bifocals. I just managed to compensate all these years. Sometimes I’m a little slower doing things but I managed to work it through.

“One of the things they (vision specialists) had me do as a child was to wear glasses with red and green lens while watch our old black and white TV that was green and red on the opposite sides,” Church explained. “I hated it with every inch of my life – but it was supposed to help my brain function better, but it really didn’t help at all.”

As an adult, Church worked for her mother Janice Warnke’s oil field rental company and also at Curves for Women where she encouraged women to exercise and take better care of their health.

Church went to complete her professional education at Mid-America Christian University in Oklahoma with financial assistance for tuition, fees and books from Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, an employment division of Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.

Her SBVI vocational counselors Carmaleta McQuay and later Jennifer Hawkins provided a range of services, including counseling and guidance, encouragement, information regarding community resources, eye examination and eyeglasses.

“The case manager I had was very supportive and helped me a lot. Her name was Carmaleta (McQuay),” Church said. “I was nervous about college and was always calling her and asking questions all the time. She was tremendously patient with me and helped me with my confidence too.

“I went from making C’s and D’s in elementary school, junior high and high school to making A’s and B’s in college.”

Church graduated summa cum laude in May 2015 with a bachelor’s of arts degree in psychology. For seven years, she has worked consistently, paid taxes and made a difference in her community.

She is married to David Church, who works for Mill’s Machinery in Shawnee. They have two children, Elli whose 13th birthday was Memorial Day weekend and Dawson, who will turn 18 this summer.

“I’ve had jobs where I did not feel the fulfillment like this job,” Church said. “I feel like I’m changing lives and helping people – and the kids sometimes make you feel like a star -- but I’m like, ‘Hey I’m just doing my job.’”

DRS served 82,533 Oklahomans with disabilities in 2021 with career preparation, employment, residential and outreach education, independent living programs and the determination of medical eligibility for disability benefits. Employed clients earned an annual average of $25,397 and paid $3,810 in taxes, based on a 15 percent tax rate.

For more information, visit or phone 800-845-8476.


Audrey Church from Okemah stands in front of a statue of hometown hero Woody Guthrie. Church and Guthrie succeeded in their chosen careers despite challenges they faced due to disabilities.

For more information

Jody Harlan, DRS Communications Director

Cell: 405-203-1318 

Last Modified on Jun 08, 2022