"Rural folks need working-class representation."
My name is Deborah Irene Gates but everyone knows me by my nickname “Renie.” I am the proud mother of two young children, own and operate a small farm, and I am a speech therapist. I am a lifelong resident of Floyd County and have a deep and abiding love for the people in Southwest Virginia and would like the opportunity to serve in the Senate Seat for the 7th District.
My family and I have a life -long commitment to volunteering and service in our community. As a young adult, I volunteered with Floyd Country Rescue Squad as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and assisted with transporting and saving lives. Because our county does not have any hospitals, I learned the importance of making every minute count to save a life. While on the squad I participated in demonstrations and tours of our ambulance at local elementary schools and loved to see the prospect of future EMTs for our county.
In addition, I was very active with 4-H. I was a 4-H Ambassador and traveled to Richmond for education and tours about our government, and I earned the title 4-H All-Stars. I was in the 4-H Horse Club and my horse and I were the first ever from South West Virginia to be chosen to compete at the Horse Center in Lexington, Virginia. One of my favorite activities with 4-H was to volunteer each year as a counselor at the 4-H camp at Smith Mountain Lake. My mother always said if you keep a child busy doing good things they won’t have time to get into trouble.
I graduated from Floyd County High School in 1997 and then went on to New River Community College where I received my degree in Arts and Associates Science in 2004. I furthered my education by attending Radford University, where I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in 2007 and my Master's degree, with honors, in 2009 in Speech Therapy. I learned the importance of working hard to further my education. It was important to me to get into a career where I could use my skills and love the job that I was doing serving people.
I have been employed as a speech therapist at public schools, at a local hospital, as an inpatient and outpatient clinician with Home Health, and at a Skilled Nursing Home, long-term care, and memory facilities. I found that my favorite population to serve were the older citizens and I still have a soft spot for that particular group of people. I also saw the lack of resources for people in our region to receive the same quality of care in the more populated areas of Virginia.
Currently, I own and operate a small farm that I have fondly named Country Heart Farm. I used the word “Country” in the farm's name because there is no other place I would rather be than here in the Appalachian Mountains. The word “Heart” came because of the love, and importance of love, from my family. Country Heart Farm focuses on gardening, preserving products from my garden or orchard; educating individuals who are interested in learning the “old ways” such as canning and food preservation; providing farming experiences such as collecting eggs, planting seeds, and milking goats. We teach people firsthand the importance of caring for their livestock. I am very interested in promoting agro-tourism in our region of Southwest Virginia. I want to promote a better understanding to visitors from more urban areas of what the day-to-day life of being a farmer is like, and the hard work that goes into it.
I am running for the Senate 7 district seat because I want to make a difference. We need to have more legislation and funds that will benefit the people in our region. Far too often our voices are never heard and people in power ignore us and our needs. We need better roads and infrastructure. We need better access to health care. We need to have more regulations to stop utility companies from exorbitant increases. Rural folks need working-class rural representation. I hope you’ll support me. Thank you.