Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities

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Cabinet to Declare Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month – The Arc Dental Program to be Highlighted

TALLAHASSEE, FL—Attorney General Pam Bondi will introduce a resolution at the Florida Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, March 10, declaring the month of March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in Florida.

Representatives from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, The Arc of Florida, and the Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities will be there to accept the resolution.

Department of Revenue employee and APD customer Talmadge Morton will address Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet on the importance of funding employment services for people with disabilities.

In addition, The Arc of Florida Executive Director Deborah Linton will share successes from its dental program that serves people with developmental with disabilities throughout the state. More than 11,600 dental procedures have been performed on needy individuals who are unable to locate a dentist to meet their needs.

The Cabinet meeting will begin at 9 a.m. in the Cabinet meeting room on the lower level of the Capitol Building.

APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn, and work in their communities.  The agency annually serves more than 50,000 Floridians with autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more information about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit APDcares.org or call toll-free 1‑866‑APD‑CARES (1‑866‑273‑2273).

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“KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” Budget Eliminates Critical Needs Waiting List for Second Year in a Row

Third Year to Fund Waiting List Enrollment

TALLAHASSEE, FL—Florida Governor Rick Scott is again recommending funding to serve individuals with critical needs on the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) waiver waiting list. Governor Scott’s proposed 2015-2016 “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget includes $1.16 billion for APD with $8 million to serve the waiting list. The money will be used to enroll about 400 individuals into the APD Home and Community-Based Services Medicaid waiver so they can use this funding for community services. This is the third year the Governor has recommended money to serve the waiting list and the second year in a row that the Governor has taken the action to eliminate the waiting list.

Governor Scott said, “We are excited that we are recommending the funding to again eliminate the critical needs waiting list this year. These life changing investments will create more opportunities for all Floridians to get the care and treatment they deserve.”

APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “I cannot thank Governor Scott enough for his continued support of individuals with disabilities. For the third year, Governor Scott is recommending funding to serve people on the waiting list with critical needs. This money will allow everyone with critical needs to enroll into the Medicaid waiver in the coming year. For the past two years, APD has carefully managed its budget while also enrolling new individuals into the Medicaid waiver, which many people thought would be impossible. I appreciate Governor Scott’s ongoing confidence in APD and the people we serve.”

Also for the third year, Governor Scott’s budget proposal includes $2 million to assist people on the waiver and the waiting list who have indicated that they want to go to work. This funding will pay for Supported Employment and supported internship services for people with developmental disabilities.

Additionally, Governor Scott is recommending $2.9 million for a new APD data system that will provide service-specific information from providers regarding service delivery dates and progress, as well as better verification that services were delivered at the times and locations that were authorized by the agency.  Additionally, this data system will include an electronic client central record that will provide the agency with information that can be used to more effectively serve individuals with developmental disabilities by providing electronic information that will track provider services and the progress of the client.

Family Care Council Florida Chairperson Pauline Lipps said, “We applaud Governor Scott for his continued efforts to reduce the waiting list of individuals with developmental disabilities across the state of Florida. Through these efforts and the Employment First Initiative, individuals will be afforded the opportunity to pursue employment services in the community that could reduce the barriers of finding competitive employment for individuals with disabilities.”

Betty Kay Clements, parent and past chairperson of the Family Care Council Florida, said, “I am so pleased that Governor Scott’s 2015 “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget includes $2 million for APD to continue to support the employment contribution that individuals with developmental disabilities can make as they highlight their many abilities.  Given the opportunity, their contribution is not just that of personal growth, self-esteem, and a paycheck, but a job well done that also benefits their communities and Florida’s employers. Everyone benefits!”

The Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida chairperson Janice Phillips said, “We appreciate Governor Scott who continues to embrace the issues facing individuals with developmental disabilities. Providing money to move people with critical needs off the waiting list is an important priority, and I am so happy it is a priority of the governor too. Helping individuals move forward toward their goals is what we all want.  I am pleased that funding has been earmarked to assist people with disabilities with their employment goals.  Having a job is extremely important to everyone, including those with disabilities who are trying to enter the workforce and become productive citizens of our state.”

Area 2 Family Care Council Chairperson Lou Ogburn said, “We applaud the Governor for his efforts to reduce the size of the waiting list.  We are also pleased he is providing help to the developmental disabilities community in employment.  It is critical for those who are able and want to work to be able to earn a paycheck.  His understanding and push to help overcome some of the hurdles with finding willing employers is so important.  We are also pleased with the money for a new Client Data Management System in order to more closely track the services to individuals with developmental disabilities so can be offered more timely when possible.”

Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities President and CEO Suzanne Sewell said, “We are thrilled to see that waiver enrollment will continue in the coming year and that the Governor is investing in a strong provider network to meet the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities. Providing community services to people with developmental disabilities is essential. We are pleased to see that Governor Scott is recommending about $8 million to continue to move new individuals into the Medicaid waiver and to ensure that a strong viable network is available to provide the services they need.”

“Special Olympics Florida applauds Governor Scott and the Legislature for dedicating critical funds that will help to ensure the safety, health, and well-being of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Florida. With this funding we are proud to work with APD to create communities statewide that value the contributions of all citizens,” President and CEO of Special Olympics Florida Sherry Wheelock.

To view the complete list of Governor Scott’s budget recommendations, visit www.KeepFloridaWorking.com.

APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn, and work in their communities.  The agency annually serves more than 50,000 Floridians with autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more information about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit APDcares.org or call toll-free 1‑866‑APD‑CARES (1‑866‑273‑2273).


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WHAT THEY ARE SAYING…

Florida Leaders and Families Applaud Gov. Scott’s Proposed $8 Million for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities and Additional $5 Million for Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts

WINTER PARK, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced a proposed investment of $8 million to enroll all individuals with critical needs from the waiting list to the Developmental Disabilities Medicaid Waiver Program. This is the second year in a row that funding is provided to remove all individuals with critical needs from the waiting list. Governor Scott’s 2015-2016 “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget also recommends an increase of $5 million, for a total of $23.4 million, for personal learning scholarship accounts for eligible K-12 students with disabilities.

Barbara Palmer, Director of Agency for Persons with Disabilities, “This is the third year in a row that Governor Scott has recommended funding to serve Floridians with disabilities on the APD waiting list, and it is the second year that we will be able to offer waiver enrollment to everyone with critical needs. This is wonderful news for individuals who will now be able to receive services in their own community.”

Pam Stewart, Commissioner of the Florida Department of Education said, “I applaud Governor Scott for proposing increased funding for personal learning scholarships. Florida parents want their children to have every opportunity for success, and these additional funds will enable eligible K-12 students with disabilities to get the best education possible.”

 Doug Tuthill, President of Step Up For Students said, “Tomorrow’s leaders are in today’s classrooms, and I am thrilled that Governor Scott’s ‘KEEP FLORIDA WORKING’ Budget includes increased funding for Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts. Parents know their children best and have the greatest understanding of what services meet their child’s needs. It is wonderful that more parents will have the opportunity to create customized education plans to ensure their children have the greatest chance at success.”

Patricia Levesque, Executive Director of the Foundation for Florida’s Future said, “Florida children with unique abilities face some of the biggest obstacles on their path to education success. Governor Scott is showing his commitment to providing these students with a high-quality education by proposing increased funding for Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts. This will allow more parents of eligible students with special needs to customize their children’s education in a way that best meets their learning needs.”

Betty Kay Clements, Past Chair of Family Care Council Florida said, “As a parent of a daughter with a disability and an advocate for other families in similar situations, I am happy to see Governor Scott’s recommendation for additional funding to continue to move people off the waiting list and onto the Medicaid waiver. The waiver truly helps to change lives by providing needed services to individuals with developmental disabilities, and are able to live full and happy lives in their local communities.”

Janice Phillips, Chair for the Association of Support Coordination Agencies in Florida said, “We appreciate Governor Scott’s continued understanding of the issues facing Floridians with developmental disabilities. Providing money to move individuals with critical needs off the waiting list is an important priority, and I am very thankful that it is a priority of Governor Scott and his administration as well.”

Lou Ogburn, Area 2 Family Care Council Chairperson said, “We applaud Governor Scott for his ongoing efforts to reduce the size of the Medicaid waiver waiting list. It is great news that the needed funding amount is available to eliminate the waiting list for the second year in a row. These families can be assured that their loved ones will be taken care of and receive the necessary services they need in the future.”

Sherry Wheelock, President and CEO of Special Olympics Florida said, “Special Olympics Florida applauds Governor Scott’s recommendation of increased funding that would ensure the well-being of Floridians with developmental disabilities. These investments are vital for individuals with disabilities to actively participate in their communities and achieve their dreams.”

Pauline Lipps, Chair of Family Care Council Florida said, “I am pleased to see funding for the waiting list three years in a row.  Families need the Medicaid waiver to help their loved ones thrive in their local communities. The waiver provides essential services so individuals with developmental disabilities are able to live and work just like everyone else. With this additional funding, everyone with critical needs on the waiting list will be offered waiver services which will be life-changing for those families.”

Georgia Dorsett LoCastro, Person with a disability and an APD employee said, “I think it is great that additional people with disabilities will be able to receive services in their own community. I thank Governor Scott for recommending more money to help individuals with developmental disabilities so they can go to work just like me.”

Michelle Favret, parent of a special needs child said, “Governor Scott’s proposed increase in funding for Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts is great news for our family. The PLSA program has been a huge help for my daughter, and Governor Scott’s proposed funding increase will help our family, and others across the state, even further.”

Jeanine Schiavoni, parent of a special needs child said, “As a parent of a child with special needs, I am so thankful to Governor Scott for prioritizing students with disabilities in his ‘KEEP FLORIDA WORKING’ Budget.  For many years our family has worked so hard to provide all of the necessary accommodations, resources and therapies in order for our child to be as successful as possible in school and in everyday life. We have provided speech/language therapy, occupational therapy, social thinking therapy, physical therapy, tutoring, extracurricular activities, along with a special education program which provides a more one on one learning environment.  All of these accommodations have led us to where we are today. This Scholarship will enable our child to continue to be provided a smaller learning environment, including the necessary therapies and accommodations that go along with his particular needs. We are very grateful for this Personal Learning Scholarship. Governor Scott’s proposed funding increase for Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts will help ensure my child has access to the resources he needs to be successful in school and in life.  I am glad more families like mine will be able to receive additional funding to help their children reach their full potential.”

Melissa Ward, parent of a special needs child said, “I think it’s really exciting that Governor Scott is proposing increased funding for Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts. Thanks to the PLSA program our son, Ethan, is now able to receive therapy we used to have to put on the back burner. The PLSA program is a huge blessing for our family, and I am thrilled that Governor Scott’s proposal will help special needs children all across Florida receive the academic help they need.”


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Notice of Meeting/Workshop Hearing

DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES
Agency for Persons with Disabilities
The Agency for Persons with Disabilities announces a public meeting regarding the iBudget algorithm to which all persons are invited.
DATE AND TIME: February 16, 2015, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m., EST
This meeting will involve Microsoft Lync for sharing presentations over the internet. If you already have access to Microsoft Lync, please use the following link to join the meeting and then choose “Don’t join audio”:

https://meet.lync.com/apdfl/tracey.tolbert/D6JZLZ6J

In addition to the Microsoft Lync meeting it is necessary to also call in to the following number in order to access the audio. The call-in number and code are: 1.888.670.3525 Code: 510 653 9718.
If you do not already have Microsoft Lync installed, please follow the hotlink below and choose “Meeting Readiness”:
http://office.microsoft.com/client/helppreview.aspx?AssetId=HA102621125&lcid=1033&NS=OCO14&Version=14
You will be presented with two options: 1) install Active X or 2) download and install Microsoft Attendee. We recommend you install Microsoft Attendee.

PLACE: Agency for Persons with Disabilities, 4030 Esplanade Way, Room 301, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0950

GENERAL SUBJECT MATTER TO BE CONSIDERED: To invite input and feedback from Agency stakeholder groups, including self-advocates, family members, service providers, waiver coordinators, and advocacy organizations in updating and improving the algorithm formula used to predict resource needs for clients enrolled on the iBudget waiver and waiting list and used in the establishment of individual budgets for individuals on the waiver. The algorithm will provide an equitable distribution of available resources among individuals on the waiver based on an assessment process that includes client characteristics and a valid formal assessment instrument, and client choice of services and providers once the individual budget is determined. http://apdcares.org/publications/legal

Written comments may be submitted to iBudgetAlgorithm@apdcares.org.
A copy of the agenda may be obtained by contacting: Eva Fambro-Price, 4030 Esplanade Way, Suite 360, Tallahassee, Florida 32399, (850)922-2550, eva.fambro-price@apdcares.org.
Pursuant to the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, any person requiring special accommodations to participate in this workshop/meeting is asked to advise the agency at least 72 hours before the workshop/meeting by contacting: Eva Fambro-Price, 4030 Esplanade Way, Suite 360, Tallahassee, Florida 32399, (850)922-2550, eva.fambro-price@apdcares.org. If you
are hearing or speech impaired, please contact the agency using the Florida Relay Service, 1(800)955-8771 (TDD) or 1(800)955-8770 (Voice).
For more information, you may contact: Eva Fambro-Price, 4030 Esplanade Way, Suite 360, Tallahassee, Florida 32399, (850)922-2550, eva.fambro-price@apdcares.org.

The meeting agenda can be found online at: http://apdcares.org/publications/legal/ 


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Governor Rick Scott Appoints Eight to Family Care Councils

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced six appointments and two reappointments to Family Care Councils across the state.

Area Seven, Family Care Council

Jackie Aikens, 56, of Lake Mary, is a retired senior software engineer with the McKesson Corporation. She fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning December 19, 2014, and ending April 5, 2015.

Area Nine, Family Care Council

Kevis Jones, 43, of Delray Beach, is an assembler for the Palm Beach Rehabilitation Center. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning December 19, 2014, and ending December 18, 2017.

Chantal Hyppolite, 61, of Boca Raton, is an advocate for persons with disabilities. She succeeds Robert Gardner and is appointed for a term beginning December 19, 2014, and ending July 1, 2016.

 Area Ten, Family Care Council

Jeannette Hand, 55, of Plantation, is real estate agent with ARG Realty. She succeeds Patrice Laurie and is appointed for a term beginning December 19, 2014, and ending August 26, 2017.

Lynda Olds, 45, of Cooper City, is an advocate for persons with disabilities. She succeeds Denise Crosnick and is appointed for a term beginning December 19, 2014, and ending August 26, 2017.

Gilda Pacheco, 66, of Miramar, is a retired teacher and administrator with Dade County Public Schools. She is reappointed for a term beginning December 19, 2014, and ending June 29, 2017.

Area Thirteen, Family Care Council

Troy Davidson, 47, of Inverness, is an advocate for persons with disabilities. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning December 19, 2014, and ending December 11, 2016.

Caroline Short, 72, of Bushnell, is a retired licensed massage therapist. She is reappointed for a term beginning December 19, 2014, and ending April 30, 2017.


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GOVERNOR AND FLORIDA CABINET HIGHLIGHT PROGRAM TO MATCH FLORIDIANS WITH DISABILITIES TO JOBS

TALLAHASSEE – Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet highlighted recent efforts to promote more employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities, and efforts to assist employers in finding and hiring these talented individuals to be part of their workforce. Yesterday morning’s presentation included an overview of the new Abilities Work Web Portal and Help Desk to help link employers to job seekers who have disabilities.

Governor Scott said, “Our mission is to ensure that every Floridian can get a great job. I would like to thank everyone involved with the Abilities Work Web Portal and Help Desk for making employment a reality for many more Floridians. Connecting Floridians with disabilities to employers benefits everyone, and we must continue working each day to make sure everyone who wants a job can have one.”

The Abilities Work Web Portal and Help Desk are key components of a larger effort, the Employment First Initiative, announced last year. The portal and help desk are designed to help employers recruit and hire more applicants with disabilities who are ready and able to work, and inform them of the available support that can help an individual succeed on the job. This initiative was recommended by Governor Scott’s Commission on Jobs for Floridians with Disabilities to better link employers to qualified job-seekers with disabilities in their communities. This also supports the established commitment among multiple interagency partners involved with the Employment First Initiative to prioritize employment for individuals with disabilities served by state programs to help them achieve greater independence and self-fulfillment, as required by Governor Scott’s Executive Order 13-284.

The Governor’s Commission on Jobs for Floridians with Disabilities, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), the Florida Department of Education’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Division of Blind Services, and Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Department of Children and Families’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Program, the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, the Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, and CareerSource Florida, all participants in the Employment First Initiative, have partnered to implement the Abilities Work Web Portal and Help Desk.

DEO created the Abilities Work Web Portal within the Employ Florida Marketplace, the state’s official online job-matching and career development tool, to accomplish this purpose. The new web portal will help employers identify qualified job candidates with disabilities and post job openings. The portal will also assist job seekers and students with disabilities in finding job opportunities and link them with career centers and other resources that can help them obtain and keep employment.

During the 2014 Legislative Session, Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature provided funding to create the Abilities Work Help Desk within the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) to accompany the web portal. Employers can reach the Help Desk through a toll-free number, 1-844-245-3405. It is staffed by three knowledgeable professionals who can assist employers interested in recruiting individuals with disabilities as part of their workforce, and provide them with information and referral services that can support their business needs.

DEO Executive Director Jesse Panuccio said, “Gainful employment affirms the inherent worth of an individual by providing a productive outlet for our talents, skills, and dedication. A job is a life-changing opportunity for all Floridians and we are excited to be able to assist Floridians with disabilities on this journey.”

“The Abilities Work Web Portal and Help Desk will connect educated and skilled Floridians with disabilities with employers in their communities, strengthening our workforce and our economy,” said Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart. “I’m pleased the Department of Education’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Division of Blind Services and Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services could collaborate with such dedicated partners to bring this project to life.”

Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) Director Barbara Palmer said, “I am very excited to see the launch of both the Abilities Work job portal and help desk. Helping people with disabilities get and keep jobs is a top priority for APD. Also, as a member of the Governor’s Commission on Jobs for Floridians with Disabilities, we are happy to see this idea become a reality. People with disabilities are just like everyone else—they want the opportunity to prove themselves, and the job portal and help desk are going to assist them in accomplishing their goals.”

“Individuals with disabilities, like everyone else, want their shot at success and to make a lasting contribution to our state. We believe employers want to hire these individuals – not because of a disability – but because they recognize the talent and value they bring to their business. “Abilities Work” represents Florida’s commitment to help employers recognize and find this talent, and will expand opportunities for these individuals to succeed in their career and life endeavors,” said David Darm, Executive Director, Governor’s Commission on Jobs for Floridians with Disabilities.

“Dedicated and hard-working, Floridians with disabilities have abilities that make them a true asset in the workplace,” said CareerSource Florida President and CEO Chris Hart IV. “The new Abilities Work portal enhances our collective efforts to connect these ready-to-work individuals with employers who are ready to hire.”

Aleisa McKinlay, Director of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), said, “VR’s mission is to help Floridians with disabilities get or keep a job, and enhance their independence. Employers are an essential part of this equation. The Abilities Work Web Portal and Help Desk are designed to link Florida’s employers with the supports and services they need to find, hire, and retain qualified employees with disabilities. Together, we can ensure that these talented folks are a vital part of the workforce and their communities!”

Division of Blind Services (DBS) Director Robert L. Doyle, III, said, “The launch of the Abilities Work Web Portal and Help Desk is an exciting stride in our continuous effort to increase job opportunities for individuals with disabilities. We have incredibly talented individuals with a wide variety of skills seeking employment through our vocational rehabilitation programs; these new tools will assist in matching qualified candidates with job opportunities while also increasing awareness amongst employers. We at DBS are especially excited that the portal is accessible to blind and visually impaired job seekers who use screen reading software and other assistive technology.”

Monica Verra-Tirado, the Bureau Chief of the Exceptional Education and Student Services of FDOE, stated, “Positive post-school outcomes are a major indicator of the success of our education programs for students with disabilities, so we are excited to be working with our partners on the Employment First effort. We look forward to seeing more of our students obtaining successful employment with support from the Abilities Work Web Portal and collaborative partnerships.”

Debra Dowds, Florida Developmental Disabilities Council (FDDC) Executive Director said, “We are delighted to be a partner in this initiative. The collaborative efforts among major agencies and organizations serving individuals with disabilities are unprecedented in our state, and these efforts are beginning to pay off with tangible products and resources that will assist individuals with disabilities in securing competitive employment!”

Ute Gazioch, Director of the Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health at the Department of Children and Families said, “The Department of Children and Families, Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health is very excited to be a partner in this important initiative.  Employment provides a sense of purpose, hope and opportunity for independence, all essential factors to recovery for persons with behavioral health conditions.”

“On behalf of the membership of Florida ARF and the RESPECT of Florida program, we are pleased to be a part of Florida’s Employment First initiative and are excited to see the positive outcomes that are being generated by the partner agencies. Accomplishments such as the Abilities Work Portal and Help Desk demonstrate the participants’ commitment to creating real jobs for people with disabilities,” said Suzanne Sewell, President & CEO, Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (ARF).

For more information, please visit the Abilities Work Web Portal at http://AbilitiesWork.employflorida.com.   The Help Desk can be contacted at 1-844-245-3405 or AbilitiesWorkHD@vr.fldoe.org.

About DEO

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity combines the state’s economic, workforce, and community development efforts.  This new approach helps expedite economic development projects to fuel job creation in competitive communities.  For more information, including valuable resources for employers and job seekers, please visit www.floridajobs.org.


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Tacachale Celebrates 30 years of Holiday Lights

GAINESVILLE, FL—Tacachale Center in Gainesville is hosting two community events to celebrate the Holidays and is inviting the public to come and enjoy the fun. Tacachale is located at 1621 Northeast Waldo Road and is home to 404 people with developmental disabilities.

On December 9, the center will host its annual Holiday Parade beginning at 10 a.m. School bands, ROTC units, law enforcement agencies, antique cars, floats, and Santa will ride through the Tacachale campus.

On December 11, Tacachale will host its 30th annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at 6:45 p.m. The tree lighting ceremony is a festive event with tree trimming and holiday songs. There is a strong chance that Santa Claus may make a surprise appearance. The festivities are free and open to the public. Community members are encouraged to attend and participate in the fun activities including tree trimming. Joyce Smith, Coordinator with the University of Florida Health Office for Regional and Governmental Affairs, will serve as this year’s Master of Ceremonies.  Father Roland Julien from St. Patrick Catholic Church will provide the invocation. Performers include the Duval Elementary Choir and the Tacachale Carolers.

Tacachale is seeking sponsors for its Christmas Home Adoption.  Individuals or groups who would like to sponsor a home are asked to provide a gift for each person living there and to throw a small party with light refreshments. For more details, contact Erin Saunders at (352) 955-5973.

Additionally, the generosity of the Gainesville community is sought to help meet the Holiday wish list of Tacachale residents. Tax deductible donations can be made to Tacachale Christmas 2014 and mailed to:

Tacachale Volunteer Services

1621 NE Waldo Road

Gainesville, FL  32609

For more information about the tree lighting ceremony activities, contact Cindy Boyd at (352) 955-5981 or cindy.boyd@apdcares.org. For details about the parade or donations, contact Volunteer Services Coordinator Paula Hawkins at (352) 955-5958 or paula.hawkins@apdcares.org.

Tacachale is operated by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD). APD annually serves more than 50,000 Floridians with the developmental disabilities of autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, intellectual disabilities, spina bifida, and Prader-Willi syndrome. To learn more about the agency, call 1-866-APD-CARES (1-866-273-2273) or visit APDcares.org.