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June 24, 2015

Faces of Fauquier: Don’t tell her she can’t do something

Photo/Lawrence Emerson
Angela Deal says she draws strength from the advice of her late mother.
I want to advocate for children with disabilities, so they don’t get left out on the playground . . . . I want there to be greater awareness. There are still places in Fauquier County that are not accessible to people with disabilities.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
She has faced obstacles all her life.

Born with spina bifida, Midland resident Angela Deal always has relied on a wheelchair to get around.

Despite bachelor’s and master’s degrees in special education, Ms. Deal continues her struggle to land a full-time job. She has worked seven years as a substitute teacher in Fauquier County Public Schools, which pays her $85 a day, typically three times a week. But, administrators haven’t offered Ms. Deal a staff position, even when she applied as a classroom aide, work that requires only a high school diploma.

Just getting to the county and school system Human Resources Department in the Alice Jane Childs Building on Warrenton’s Hospital Hill proves daunting, with its steep parking lot and sidewalk. She sometimes substitutes at Southeastern Alternative School, which has no handicapped-accessible restroom.

She drives a van with hand accelerator and brake controls and a wheelchair lift but frequently finds handicapped-accessible parking spaces taken by those who don’t need them.

“Angie is one of the strongest and most determined people I’ve ever met,” said Wesley Shortridge, pastor of the Liberty Community Church near Bealeton, where she serves as the nursery director.

This spring, Ms. Deal accepted a new challenge. She competed in the Ms. Wheelchair Virginia pageant at the Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center in Augusta County. Ms. Deal didn’t win the weekend long competition, which included a speech about her life experiences and ideas for helping others. But, as Ms. Wheelchair Fauquier, she has set out to push for change in her community.

“I want to advocate for children with disabilities, so they don’t get left out on the playground . . . . I want there to be greater awareness,” she said. “There are still places in Fauquier County that are not accessible to people with disabilities.

“There are still public school buildings that don’t have handicapped-accessible bathrooms. There are still sidewalks with telephone poles in the middle of them. Who puts a telephone pole in a sidewalk?”

She fought for years to get her driver’s license and to complete her education.

“In high school, I said, ‘I want to go to college.’ DRS (Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services) said, ‘Our clients don’t go to college’.”

She has watched others get jobs for which she has greater qualification.

“That’s OK,” Ms. Deal said. “I used to say in high school, ‘Don’t tell me I can’t, because I will just prove you wrong’.”

She has faced lots of blank stares and awkward questions.

“Children seem to love me. They will ask me, ‘Why are you in a wheelchair?’ The small ones will get, ‘Because my legs don’t work.’ The older ones will get the full details.”

Pastor Shortridge said the first wheelchair-bound member of his congregation, which meets in an aging Morgansburg Road church with narrow doorways and without an accessible restroom, has opened his eyes.

“She never complains,” he said of Ms. Deal. “She has become one of our key leaders.”

As she speaks to civic groups and expands her advocacy, others in Fauquier soon will meet a young woman determined to overcome barriers and to open more eyes.

• Age

• Home

• Work
Substitute teacher, Fauquier County Public School, 7 years.

• Why do you do the job?
I love kids, and I want to be a role model . . . . It may take you a while, but you should do what you want with determination.

• Family
Finance, Shannon Switzer (getting married in two months); father David Deal; four sisters; 12 nieces and nephews, and two great nieces; her mother, Diane, died in 2001.

• Education
Master’s degree in special education, Liberty University, 2014; bachelor’s degree in special education, Old Dominion University, 2011; associate’s degree in education, Lord Fairfax Community College, 2007; Liberty High School, 2003.

• Civic and/or church involvement
Member of Liberty Community Church near Bealeton since 2007; director of nursery at church; former volunteer at Fauquier Family Shelter; Ms. Wheelchair Fauquier since March.

• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
Since age 9.

• Why do you live here?
We moved from Culpeper when my parents bought a house in Fauquier. It’s home.

• How do you describe this county?
It’s a nice quiet, place to be.

• What would you change about Fauquier?
The accessibility for people with disabilities. I’m 60 days away from being married, and we’re trying to find a place to live. We’ve looked at two apartment complexes and they say it will take at least a year “because of your needs” for a handicapped-accessible unit.

• What do you do for fun?
Go bowling in Culpeper, and the new movie theater in Gainesville is good.

• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years?
I think it’s gonna be built-up, and hopefully that will mean better accessibility and better public transportation. Public transportation right now is a joke. It’s OK in Warrenton (with the Circuit Rider bus). But, outside of Warrenton, you’ve got two days a week where you can get transportation.

• Favorite TV show?
I don’t have one.

• Favorite movie?
I like Disney movies, without all the violence.

• Favorite book?
I like religious books. Right now, I’m reading “How to Get Out of the Pit” by Beth Moore.

• Favorite vacation spot?
The beach.

• Favorite food?
Right now, it’s a tossup between meatloaf and tacos.

• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom?
“Never let them see you sweat,” from Ms. (“Scottie”) Joseph, a high school teacher.

• Who’s your hero and why?
My mom, because she didn’t let me sulk and feel sorry for myself because of my disability. She said, “This is your life and you’re gonna have to deal with it.”

• What would you do if you won $1 million in the lottery?
Buy a house, put some of it toward advocacy and help others.

Suggest a profile subject.

Do you know someone who lives in Fauquier County you would like to see in Faces of Fauquier? E-mail Editor Lou Emerson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Previous Faces of Fauquier:

• FHS graduate and business owner Cathy Dodson finds all she needs right here.

• Mike Harvey’s sweet work takes lots of sweat.

• Warrenton native Joan Williams still serving her community.

• Classic cars consume engineer Matt Innocenzi’s free time.

• Wood transformed in the hands of Edward Fox.

• Earl Arrington serves printing customers and his community.

• Michael Hughes wears music, threater and equestrian hats.

• Store in Goldvein part of Susan Leopold’s family legacy.

• County native Maggi MacQuilliam devoted to the great outdoors.

• Health care for the needy Rob Marino’s mission.

• Daphne Latimore focuses on human capital.

• Horses extend Louise Summers’ work as teacher.

• As volunteer coach, Jeff Budd develops young wrestlers.

• Fraces Allshouse’s jobs focus on preservation.

• Jessica Smolinski’s book introduces children to Old Town Warrenton.

• Margaret Rice’s job all about fitness and fun in Warrenton.

• Robert Sturgeon has built his 70-employee businesses in Bealeton from scratch.

• 4-H leader Zach Woodward relishes the lessons of farming.

• Hospital auxiliary volunteer Alison Lee also earned fame in drag racing circles.

• Highland School veteran staff member Lise Hicklin always wanted to teach.

• As 9-1-1 dispatcher, Kateland Rich works to maintain calm during crisis.

• Chaplain Liz Danielsen finds a giving community.

• 9-1-1 response in Rodney Woodward’s bloodline.

• Fast talk a tool of the trade for auctioneer Kathy Shumate.

• Sam Poles takes care of varmits.

• Diane King mentors student performers at Fresta Valley Christian School.

• Lewis F. Lee Jr. followed his father into taxidermy business.

• Edward Payne returns to Orlean and to photography with passion.

• Janet Metzger’s Old Town Warrenton shop a hub of creativity.

• Pablo Teodoro bakes to build community.

• Community trails have become passion for retired VDOT engineer Bob Moore.

• Teresa Reynolds makes transition from butcher to museum director.

• After working in New York and Italy, Christine Fox moved home to open fashion boutique 25 years ago.

• Steve Lewis develops hunting reality show on Dish Network.

• Julia Trumbo grew up in the family grocery business.

• Tax preparer Renée Turner enjoys owning a business in Old Town Warrenton.

• ICU staff Carol Jones values patients’ trust.

• Wilson Sanabria grew up working in his family’s Warrenton restaurant and learning to box.

• One-man band Peter Fakoury quit 9-to-5 to learn from children.

• Liberty graduate Brittany Aubrey works in the smile business.

• Walmart cashier Lulu Baer loves to play violin and several community roles.

• In Sandra Alm, SPCA dogs have a loyal companion.

• St. James’ Episcopal new Rector Ben Maas appreciates community’s embrace

• Bicycles dominate work and play for Brian Larson.

• Teaching music therapy combines Abigail Newman’s passions.

• Brenda Rich leads volunteers who organize and run the Fauquier County Fair.

• 1st Sgt. Greg Harris stresses empathy in his job as a supervisor at the county detention center.

• Chuck Tippett challenges the “rich guy” stereotype about pilots.

• County government employee Surja Tamang previously worked as a Mt. Everest sherpa.

• Woody Isaac found his calling as a chef at age 16.

• Horses take Tommy Lee Jones all over the county.

• Retired nurse Angela Neal continues to volunteer in hospital ER.

• Gilmer Lee really knows high school sports in Fauquier.

• Stage remains central to Tim Bambara’s life journey.

• Bus driver Melissa Strain’s weekend job all about “fun.”

• Bartender Taylor Edgar has a pretty good standup routine.

• A nomad childhood led Paul Schmeling to start a moving company.

• Adam Lynch’s family owns café with local food focus and a special name.

• Patricia McMahon Rice turns passion for art into her livelihood.

• Cindy D’Ambro works as “director of first impressions” at LFCC.

• Ginger Hilleary leads local literacy organization.

• Farmers with groundhog problems call Rod Kirkpatrick.

• Horses “retire” to work with Jeanne Blackwell.

• Remington cattle farmer Doug Linton loves his home and work.

• Sports central to Robert Glascock’s life’s work.

• For Richard Mast, company ownership started with his summer work as a teenager.

• Bernice Simpson knows northern Fauquier back roads and the people who live along them.

• Eddie Payne has logged 38 years as a volunteer firefighter in Marshall.

• Stephanie Layton turns her lifelong passion for dance into her livelihood.

• Shawn LaRue matches children and adoptive families.

• Biker and psychology major Clif Stroud makes music in a big way.

• Becky Crouch greets lots of visitors.

• She helped blaze trail to equality for black teachers.

• Family and food come first for Marshall pizzeria employee.

• Rural “closeness” of Fauquier appeals to Kansas native

• A “spoke” in the wheel of preservation.

• His job dovetails with passion for hunting

• Veteran educator sees the potential in every child.

• His passions: Fixing cars and helping people

• Habitat ReStore volunteer appreciates Fauquier’s diversity.

• Dad’s example led to new career at Fauquier Hospital.

• He lives and works in a beautiful place.

• The Goldvein firehouse ranks as his favorite place.

• Pretty things everywhere she looks.

• Through scouting, he encourages girls to explore.

• One day, he might run the company.

• FISH volunteer likes to help others.

• She sees the community’s generosity.

• Cop patrols while most people sleep.

• Pastor a constant in Calverton.

• She keeps the courthouse spotless.

• He loves working working outdoors at the park.

• She sees “everyone” at Carousel

• Library assistant works in a “fun place"

• Hat lady sets up shop in Old Town Warrenton

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graybeard · June 25, 2015 at 9:11 am
Ms Angie is correct on the public transportation in the county. As a wheelchair user myself, I rode the circuit rider to and from Fauquier Hospital in 2005 for my physical therapy. Sometimes the bus just wouldn't show up, and then it was on you to find a way home. Not fun. The county is slowly getting it as far as public accessibility, but housing is nowhere near accommodating. I had to have my house renovated to be able to live in it. Finding an option elsewhere in the county isn't gonna happen.
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