TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – For more than five decades, thousands of people needing physical, occupational and speech therapy have been helped through the Tupelo-based Regional Rehabilitation Center. This evening, the community is celebrating the service of the retiring director who is credited with making much of it happen. WCBI’s Allie Martin has more on the contributions the longtime leader has made through Regional Rehab.
Kay Mathews is doing what she loves .
Although she is executive director of the Regional Rehabilitation Center, Mathews makes sure sees clients as a speech language pathologist. In fact, back in 1965, she was hired right out college as a speech therapist.
“I realized, this is my calling, this is my mission.”
She continued in that role for six years, until she quit to raise a family. But in 1993, as a daughter was about to enter college, Mathews was ready to enter the workforce, once again at Regional Rehab.
Eventually, she was asked to be executive director.
“I understand the families, I know the families and I know how these situations impact the families. It’s hard to get out and talk to the public about fundraising and supporting the Rehab Center if you don’t understand what we do.”
As executive director, Mathews has led the Center as it provides rehabilitation services to more than 2000 clients throughout the area. It is all done at no cost to the individual. Funds come from the community, grants and government agencies.
It takes 14 staff members and many volunteers to keep the Center running. Earlier this year, Mathews knew it was time to retire. Since the announcement, Mathews has been honored, by many public officials and groups. Recently, the Lee County Board of Supervisors recognized her for her work. Regional Rehab Board President Steve Holland said Mathews has left a legacy.
“She’s a therapist, executive director, she’s the fundraiser, she’s done it all and done it with perfection, passion and we’re so grateful for her service, we’re going to miss her but we have a good man coming in.”
That man is Robby Parman, who has been learning all he can from Mathews as he takes on a big role.
“I will continue to have her on speed dial and if I have to tie her to the seat, I want her up here helping me as much as possible. ”
Although she is retiring, Mathews says she’s not leaving completely. She’ll join the host of volunteers who play such a vital role in the Center’s life-changing work.
“Once you get involved with the Rehab Center you can’t leave it.”
Mathews says there is a possibility she may eventually serve as a speech therapist at the Rehab Center on a part time basis.