Guest post by APD NW Region Operations Manager Lynne Daw
The Northwest region, one of six geographic regions within APD covers the 16 most western counties in the panhandle of Florida. Due to the large coverage area, the region also has field offices in Pensacola, Panama City, and Marianna with the regional office located in Tallahassee.
Spring has finally sprung and with it several exciting events are blooming in the region!
Marcus Pointe Baptist Church in Pensacola hosted a Disability Ministry Conference on March 29. The purpose of the event was to recruit other churches into developing ministries dedicated to individuals with disabilities and their needs. The guest speaker was Joni and Friends, Charlotte team. This organization is committed to train, disciple, and mentor people with disabilities exercise their gifts of leadership and service in the church and in their communities. Twelve churches were represented at the conference. One topic discussed was how to set up respite opportunities like the one offered by Marcus Pointe one Saturday per month. Two other churches will be partnering with Marcus Pointe in setting up a similar respite program.
On April 5, the Northwest Region 2 Family Care Council sponsored a nutritional workshop for family members, paid caregivers and self-advocates. Presenters at the workshop included nationally renowned dietician, Sandra Woodruff who provided information on making wise choices when grocery shopping. She included tips on how to read food labels, when to choose fresh versus frozen foods, and how to get the best value when shopping. Jim Bellamy, of the Frenchtown Project, presented the exciting opportunity for individuals who have EBT dollars and how to double their value by purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables! Participants learned that importance of combining exercise with good food choices with a presentation by Gold’s Gym Owner, Joe Burtoft. The highlight of the event was the cooking demonstration presented by Chef Shafrica Simmons who prepared stir fry using brown rice and a variety of fresh greens and vegetables. Along with enjoying food samples by Chef Simmons, participants were also provided with a free nutritious lunch sponsored, in part, by Newk’s restaurant.
Regional staff are making great strides in identifying both employment and internship opportunities for individuals utilizing the Employment Enhancement Project (EEP) grant. Since January 2014, over 13 individuals have become employed in new jobs and more than 18 individuals are actively participating in paid internships in the community! We have seen great response on the part of the community in developing these internship opportunities. On April 11, about 300 students participated in the Transition Services Fair at University of West Florida in Pensacola. During this fair, APD set up mock interviews with 12 employers and teachers to provide students with interview experience. As a result, one individual was given the opportunity for a real interview with anticipation of hire. Regional Employment Liaison Katrina Washington presented with Brenda Clark of the University of South Florida at the Visions Conference in Tampa April 29 to May 2, which will help attendees use creative writing as a tool toward employment.