From Left to Right;  Gloria Vazquez, Secretary, Martha Wrenn, Chairman, Wesley Trump, WhirliDogs Project Manager, Denise Sessoms, Research Specialist, Natalie Catala, Parent and Consumer Advocate, Jimmie Lucas, Work Based Learning Specialist

Who we are……..

Martha Wrenn

I retired in 2011 after over 38 years in public education.  I have done many things in education beginning as a Spanish teacher and ending as the Executive Director of Programs for Exceptional Children in Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools.  I am the proud mother of two wonderful daughters and four perfect grandchildren.  My oldest grandson has severe Autism and my youngest grandson has Down Syndrome.  My passion for, in some small way, leaving the world a better place includes opening doors for people like my grandsons.  My favorite quote is, not surprisingly, “You must be the change you want to see in this world.” – Mahatma Gandhi.  If you want to chat or if you have questions my email is mbwrenn@gmail.com

 Wesley Trump

I am a retired National Board Certified Exceptional Children’s Teacher and Behavior Specialist. Throughout my 31 year career, I always advocated that with only minor accommodations and teaching the right skills, students with disabilities could achieve amazing potentials and levels of independence. Of all the students in my long career I’ve never met one who wanted to fail. Now those students are adults and want the same things that we all want. To be productive citizens, contribute to their families and communities and to work! I believe that the WhirliDogs Café and Training Center will give many that crucial first experience that employers always want.  “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt. If you would like to contact me feel free to email me at wesley@whirlidogs.com

Jimmie Lucas

 I am a lifelong resident of Wilson, having attended Fike High School and then graduating from Atlantic Christian College, (now Barton College).  The majority of my career has been centered on workforce development and assisting people in finding meaningful work. I served as the Apprenticeship Coordinator for Wilson County Schools for 9 years full time and 5 years part-time. Currently I am working part-time as the Work Based Learning Coordinator for Wilson County Schools.  I also serve on the Workforce Development Board for Turning Point. Turning Point represents the counties of Wilson, Nash, Edgecombe, Halifax and Northampton.   I would like to see WhirliDogs become successful simply because of what it represents. WhirliDogs is a means to assist those individuals who have special needs in finding meaningful work. I have to quote something my Father said to me several times when I was growing up and it has proven to be true more than once in my lifetime. He would say, “You can accomplish a lot in life, but you can accomplish even more if you have good friends”. To contact me please email   jimlucas_27893@yahoo.com

Gloria Vazquez

I am a retired educator.  During my career, I have taught English as a Second Language and Spanish from Kindergarten to the college level.  I retired as the English as a Second Language and World Languages Coordinator in Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools in 2014. I have always been a passionate advocate of social justice and social equality.  Fortunately, through my job and community volunteering I had plenty of opportunities to help students and families remove the barriers and roadblocks that prevented them from developing to their best potential, with the ultimate goal of becoming productive citizens of our communities.  The WhirliDogs’ initiative gives me the chance to continue working for equal opportunities for all. “Give every other human being every right you claim for yourself.”― Robert G. Ingersoll        glvazquez54@yahoo.com

Natalie Catala

I’ve worked in customer service for 20 years. About 15 of those years have been in the restaurant business. I have two boys. My oldest is Isaiah he is so carefree and loves soccer. My youngest is Ethan and he is a happy soul who is full of curiosity and is his brothers #1 fan. Ethan was born with spina bifida, hydrocephalus, and schizencephaly. We do not let these conditions define who he is which is why I’m so proud and honored to be on this board. I want to help show those with disabilities that they are not defined by their conditions. “Recognize that every interaction you have is an opportunity to make a positive impact on others” -Shep Hyken   nataliecatala@yahoo.com

Denise Sessoms

My career in education began in 1976 in Greensboro, NC, finding part-time jobs for college students and matching them to those jobs.  Ten years later I began working at Wilson Community College teaching job seeking and job keeping skills to underemployed adults. I then became the director of the College’s literacy programs, helping adults improve the quality of their lives by learning to read or obtaining a GED. Thirty years later I retired from Wilson Community College after serving as the Dean of Student Development, the Dean of Curriculum and lastly as the Vice President of Instruction and Student Development. I had the privilege of helping adult students, many who were desperately seeking a second chance with education that would lead to employment. I know first-hand the struggles they had in that process and witnessed their successes. WhirliDogs will give many adults the tools they need to overcome their challenges and be productive citizens in our communities. At the College, I was always reminding faculty and staff that students didn’t care how much you knew until they knew how much you cared (Theodore Roosevelt). WhirliDogs is about caring enough to make a positive change in the lives of those with special needs.      dlsessoms@nc.rr.com