Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities

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Sunland Center

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Guest post by Sunland Center Superintendent Merlin Roulhac


Sunland Center is a Developmental Disabilities Center operated by the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities. Sunland Center comprises Sunland at Marianna, the Developmental Disabilities Defendant Program in Chattahoochee, and Rish Park in Cape San Blas.

Sunland is focused on becoming recognized as a world-class organization through superior management, respecting people, focusing on our customers, and implementing performance improvement through our Organizational Performance Improvement teams.

April has been a busy and exciting month at Sunland.  The warmer weather of April brings on many fun filled events and activities for both staff and residents. Special Olympics kicked spring into high gear and the Sonic Basketball team secured a solid victory among the other great competitors.

The Pathways TEAM launched their first Jam Blast which was a resounding success. Residents and staff entertained everyone with melodic sounds by various recording artists, to include Luke Bryan, The Temptations, R. Kelly, and Billy Weathers, just to name a few.

An appreciation picnic for Sunland’s volunteers was held on April 10 at the Sunland Environmental Park.  Approximately 100 volunteers and staff attended.  Awards were presented to Maria Johnson, Volunteer of the Year and the Marianna Women’s Club as the Volunteer Group of the Year.  Thank you volunteers for everything you do – Sunland values and appreciates you!   Baskets of delicious goodies will be delivered to the residents’ homes on April 17, followed by the annual Special Olympics Equestrian show which takes place on April 18 and is a highly anticipated event for both residents and staff.  Family Day rounds out April with great eagerness and anticipation as residents and their families enjoy a relaxing day and delicious picnic lunch at the Sunland Environmental Park.

These activities would not be possible without the dedication of our employees. Sunland administration certainly appreciates their devotion and commitment to those we serve.  Understanding that employee appreciation has long been recognized as key to a successful, positive workplace environment, we have worked diligently to build a vibrant employee recognition program. The Sunland Employee Recognition Program is alive and well, with a very robust Star Employee program.   This program operates systematically, recognizing and honoring the extraordinary achievements of our employees by publicly announcing such accomplishments to the Sunland community and celebrating these achievements monthly, quarterly, and annually.  Staff may be recognized with an individual Star Employee award, or as a member of a Star Team.  We are pleased to report that calendar year to date, a total of 77 employees have been recognized as Star employees!  Sunland appreciates our workforce and strives to create and maintain a positive work environment where employees have an opportunity to excel in their chosen professions.

In other news, Maria, a Sunland employee and Robert, a Pathways resident placed first and third, respectively, in a city art show held in Marianna.

Recently, Sunland teamed up with the APD State Office Webmaster and launched a website that includes Sunland at Marianna, Pathways, the Developmental Disabilities Defendant Program (DDDP), and a link that will take site visitors to the Rish Park page. To visit the site, go to http://apdcares.org/sunland/.

Finally, William J. (Billy Joe) Rish Park is open year round for people with disabilities and their family members, guardians, and caregivers.  The 2014 summer season is off to a very busy start with daily reservations and renovations on the bay side of the park. For reservations at (or questions about) the park, you can contact Onna Lipford at (850) 482-9386 or e-mail Onna.Lipford@apdcares.org.


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