Whether she’s climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or handling a mountainous caseload, Illinois Rehabilitation Counselor Amy Biegler personifies a can-do attitude that explains why she’s a winner of AFSCME’s Never Quit Service Award.
For the past six years, Biegler has been working at the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) in the Illinois Department of Human Services. She’s also a member of AFSCME Local 51 (Illinois Council 31), which represents state employees in the Peoria area.
Nancy Anderson, a DRS vocational counselor who nominated Biegler for the Never Quit award, said Biegler manages a caseload that really should be handled by five rehabilitation counselors. However, for most of the past four years, it’s just been Biegler. For the past few months, one other counselor has been helping her.
Even more to her credit, Biegler is doing this despite Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s constant attacks on public service workers, including his refusal to negotiate a new contract with Council 31.
“She’s helped many clients remain in their homes” when they otherwise could’ve ended up in a nursing home or some other facility, Anderson said. “She’s very talented, very dedicated, and she has a lot of compassion for her clients. She definitely goes the extra mile.”
It’s not always been easy to handle a caseload that be as high as 300 clients, Biegler said.
“But, you know, it’s all about my customers, it’s about the people I help and what I have to offer them, and how I can try to inspire them,” she said.
Biegler spent 14 years as a physical therapist assistant before hurting her back. But she didn’t let that stop her from restoring her health and remaining active – including doing a half Ironman Triathlon (swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles, then run 13.1 miles). “I taught myself how to swim,” she added.
Returning to school, she earned a master’s degree, became a licensed clinical counselor and was hired by the state as a rehabilitation counselor. Her tenacity and positive attitude kept her going despite a huge caseload – the same attitude that got her to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, in 2012.
Biegler brings that same never-quit attitude to her job, which is to evaluate a client’s needs and do what she can to keep them independent, whether it’s to get them help to bathe, groom, cook, do laundry or whatever else they need.
“That’s my passion,” she said. “I truly want my people to be able to be at home and enjoy life and stay active.”
Biegler is a public service worker who never quits – not on herself or the people who depend on her.
Do you know an AFSCME member who demonstrates extraordinary dedication to their work? Nominate them for a Never Quit Service Award.