We recognized seven exceptional Florida employers this morning at our annual Exceptional Employer awards ceremony. And what an event it was! We were absolutely thrilled with the number of people who participated in our event this morning. We had several wonderful speakers including APD Director Barbara Palmer, Florida Governor Rick Scott, Stacey Powell, an APD client and Sonic employee, Tallahassee Mayor John Marks, and Sue Homant, President and CEO of Able Trust. Able Trust is a direct support organization of Vocational Rehabilitation. They provide grants to people with disabilities who want to work.
The seven honored businesses for 2012 are:
Baptist Health South Florida (Miami)
Baptist Health South Florida (BHSF) realizes that employees are its greatest asset in accomplishing their mission with more than 105 people with disabilities on the payroll. BHSF is committed to learning about, mentoring, and employing people with developmental disabilities. Baptist has participated in Disability Mentoring Day for the past 3 years and has allowed 34 people to conduct job shadowing. Additionally, this year the hospital hosted four paid interns for 16 weeks. At the end of the internship, the hospital hired one of those individuals to join its permanent workforce.
Habitat for Humanity (Pasco County)
One way Habitat for Humanity raises money to build housing is through its Re-Stores, which sell donated home improvement goods, furniture, building materials, and appliances. This organization has gone above and beyond in making sure its seven employees with disabilities are welcomed and accommodated in its Re-Stores. They ensured their new building was wheelchair accessible when relocating so an employee would not have any issues maneuvering through the building.
Mangrove Mike’s Café (Islamorada)
This business has a strong and deep commitment to having people with disabilities working at the restaurant. The owner, Mike Forster, brought some of his employees with him from the keys to help him accept the award, including Jack Atkinson, who receives services from the Monroe Association of Remarkable Citizens. Over the years, the restaurant has helped 12 individuals with disabilities go to work. Forster will be the keynote speaker for the Upper Keys celebration of Disability Mentoring Day this month.
Miller’s Ale House (Daytona Beach)
This restaurant has four employees with disabilities of the nearly 50 individuals on its payroll—that is almost 10 percent of employees have disabilities. Most of these people have visual disabilities and work as silverware rollers. This employer has developed job opportunities to capitalize on the employee’s talents, and they have also made accommodations when needed.
Pensacola Blue Wahoos
This new minor league baseball team began including people with disabilities in its workforce when it began hiring people in April for various positions. The organization already has five individuals with disabilities on its payroll, with one gentleman with Autism being featured in the news recently due to his excellent customer service as a ticket taker at the ball park. All individuals were included in employee activities and meetings. This employer worked with each individual to remove any barriers that may exist.
Sirata Beach Resort and Conference Center (St. Pete)
Sirata Beach Resort and Conference Center of St. Petersburg currently employs 11 people with disabilities. The hotel partners with Vincent House which helps individuals with mental health issues enter the workforce. Sirata Beach Resort has employed more than 26 people with disabilities in the past four years. This business has a dedicated commitment to help those with disabilities go to work.
Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resortin Orlando hires many, many people with all types of disabilities in its workforce of 12,000. Universal ensures that proper accommodations are made, including having on staff American Sign Language Interpreters for employees with hearing loss. Universal purchased a video relay interpreting service and placed it at high traffic areas for guests and team members if an ASL interpreter was not immediately available. They have exceeded expectations with assisting people with visual disabilities, with more than a dozen people with vision loss hired in the past five years.
If you missed our Tallahassee event this morning you can check out tomorrow (October 19) at http://thefloridachannel.org/. Enjoy!