Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities

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Meaningful Work A Priority

By Director Barbara Palmer

One of the top priorities of the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) is to help people with developmental disabilities find employment. APD customers tell us they want to be able to find and keep a job just like anyone else. The agency provides services, like job coaching, to ensure that individuals are able to keep their positions for the long term.

October is when the entire nation focuses on employment opportunities for people with disabilities because it is Disability Employment Awareness Month. Florida’s theme for the month is Abilities Work.  On September 23, Governor Scott and the Cabinet declared October as Disability Employment Awareness Month in Florida.

This past year, Governor Rick Scott recommended and the Florida Legislature supported providing $500,000 for on-the-job training and internships. These dollars helped 170 people find jobs or internships, many for the first time. These opportunities to learn job skills are invaluable. Additionally, APD has more than 3,500 of its customers who are successfully working.  When people with disabilities are working they are relying less on others to meet their needs. Anyone who is working feels more valued and better about themselves. It is a smart investment.

APD customer Rachel Caylor has worked at a Pensacola Walmart for seven years. Caylor recently moved up to a cashier position, which was her goal. Caylor’s Supervisor, Shalawn Kennedy, was impressed with Caylor’s persistence and willingness to volunteer to help as a cashier so they offered her the permanent cashier position. Kennedy said, “Rachel has a great work ethic. She is an all-around girl because she is knowledgeable about a lot of areas. She is reliable and dependable. Rachel does what is asked of her, then more. She is also great with customers.”

Individuals just want a chance to prove themselves to a willing employer. APD works in partnership with the state’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program to provide support that the individual and the employer may need to ensure a successful job match.

I hope to see more people with disabilities finding long-term careers, like Caylor. We need companies that are willing to provide job opportunities to all people who are qualified and able to perform the work. I want to assure you that APD, VR, Blind Services, Department of Economic Opportunity, Veterans’ Affairs, and other programs are here to help your organization make the best job match. And we will be there in the future should either party need assistance. We want the partnership to be a win-win for everyone involved and your organization to have a dedicated employee, just like Rachel Caylor.

 

To read the rest of the October edition of The Champion visit our website  at http://apdcares.org/champion/


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Disability Employment Awareness Month Resolution

WHEREAS, Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities provides services to more than 50,000 Floridians with developmental disabilities annually so they can live and work in their local communities; and

WHEREAS, Florida’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services programs within the Department of Education, assist people with disabilities so they may become employed; and

WHEREAS, Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity, through Career Centers, help people with disabilities, including veterans, locate jobs; and

WHEREAS, these four programs have had an overwhelming impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of citizens with disabilities by offering services including job placement, training, support services, and job coaching; and

WHEREAS, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities has assisted 3,581 Floridians with disabilities with maintaining gainful employment, and Vocational Rehabilitation assisted 7,214  people, and Blind Services helped 713 individuals with achieving their employment goals last year; and

WHEREAS, The Able Trust, also known as the Florida Endowment Foundation for Vocational Rehabilitation, has awarded more than $29 million in grants to organizations throughout Florida, enabling thousands of Florida’s citizens with disabilities to enter the workforce; and

WHEREAS, Florida has the third largest population of disabled veterans in the nation with more than 272,000, including more than 2,500 wounded Floridians from service in Afghanistan and Iraq; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Department of Economic Opportunity are working together to find employment opportunities for veterans with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Vocational Rehabilitation, Blind Services, Department of Economic Opportunity, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and The Able Trust have substantially contributed to the tax revenues of Florida by helping individuals with disabilities go to work, thus enabling many to leave public assistance and become taxpaying citizens; and

WHEREAS, Florida’s Disability Mentoring Day is hosted on October 15th which provides mentoring and job shadowing employment opportunities for students and job seekers with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, Florida joins the rest of the Nation in recognizing the contributions of the 5.7 million Floridians with disabilities by celebrating October 2014, as Disability Employment Awareness Month with the theme Abilities Work.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Governor and Cabinet of the State of Florida do hereby recognize October 2014, as

DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT AWARENESS MONTH


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Cabinet to Declare Disability Employment Month

TALLAHASSEE, FL— Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi will introduce a resolution at tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting declaring October as Disability Employment Awareness Month in Florida.

Department of Health employee, Jonathan Show, will address Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet on the importance of including people with disabilities in the workforce.

The Cabinet meeting will begin at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, September 23, in the Cabinet meeting room on the lower level of the Capitol Building.

Along with Show, leaders from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Vocational Rehabilitation, Blind Services, Veterans’ Affairs, Governor’s Commission on Jobs for Floridians with Disabilities, and the Able Trust will be there to accept the resolution.

The Agency for Persons with Disabilities 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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Nominate an Exceptional Employer Today!

The Agency for Persons with Disabilities is looking for businesses that are committed to employing individuals with disabilities. The agency is accepting nominations of outstanding businesses from across the state until August 23. To submit a nomination, visit APDcares.org to complete the form. APD and other disability agencies will recognize the winning employers on Wednesday, October 9. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

The awards event will be held at the Tallahassee City Commission Chambers, 300 South Adams Street. Information displays will be in the Second Floor Mezzanine beginning at 8:30. The employer recognition will begin at 9:30 a.m. Some of the organizations participating are Vocational Rehabilitation, Blind Services, Able Trust, Veterans’ Affairs, City of Tallahassee, and the Department of Economic Opportunity.


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Hard work pays off for young Miami woman

By Hillary Jackson and Jeff Saulich, Special to the Democrat, Tallahassee Democrat, Oct 29, 2012 

 Yaneris Alonso

  MIAMI — Yaneris Alonso is a 25-year-old woman who dreams big and has the courage to make her dreams a reality.

 After facing a personal tragedy involving the loss of her mother and brother, Alonso decided to focus on her future and that of her young daughter. Within two years, the Miami woman obtained a GED and a vocational certificate, completed an internship and secured full-time employment in a Miami hospital.

 Alonso has a developmental disability and receives services from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, when APD and other state agencies highlight Floridians with disabilities who are successfully employed in their communities.

 At the end of 2010, Alonso wanted to improve her life and spelled out her objectives very clearly. They included obtaining a GED, going to school and getting a job. With the assistance of Luis Blandon, her supported living coach who is funded by APD, Alonso enrolled in GED classes at Lindsey Hopkins Technical Education Center in Miami.

 The counselor there told her about other options and explained that Alonso was qualified to enter the dietary aid program, which would allow her to learn a trade quickly and build a foundation for the discipline necessary to study for the GED. Alonso considered this option carefully and decided to give it try.

 Alonso woke up early, went to classes every day, did her homework and studied very hard for her tests.

 She graduated in December 2011, completed an internship at Palm Springs General Hospital in Hialeah and earned her certificate in nutrition and dietetic services.

 With certificate in hand, Alonso landed a job in the Food and Nutrition Department of the University of Miami Hospital.

 “I feel very proud and happy to have a job,” Alonso says. “I had been looking for a job for a long time and I was about to give up, but something told me to keep going and finally they called me.”

 As a trayline worker, Alonso performs a variety of duties including preparing the food trays and serving meals to hospital patients. She enjoys taking the skills she acquired in school, putting them into practice and earning money for it.

 “My job makes me feel very proud that I am doing something good for me,” says Alonso.

 Her supervisor, Stefanie Thompson, says Alonso pays attention to details, always has a positive attitude at work and is very sociable and compassionate with the patients.

 Thompson says that Alonso excels at her duties and that hiring her was a good decision.

 “This has been a very positive experience for Yaneris, because it has helped her gain self-confidence and she feels very valued,” says Blandon. “Her self-esteem was very low, but going to work and having a purpose has changed her life for the better.”

 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 1-866-273-2273.


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Baptist looks forward to buying a home, freedom

By Kimberly Tharpe, Special to the Democrat, Oct 29, 2012

 

 Terry Baptist

From left, Chris Starke, Rachel Sabo and Terry Baptist

 ST. PETERSBURG — Terry Baptist, 43, who is employed at Tradewinds Resort in St. Petersburg, had a specific goal in mind when he started his job in 2008. He wanted to get his driver’s license and purchase a car. Baptist has achieved those goals and many others in the last four years. He has worked diligently to improve his living environment, as well as his finances.

 Baptist, who has autism and other disabilities, receives services from Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and APD is showcasing the workplace achievements of people with disabilities and celebrating the employers that hire them.

 With the assistance of his live-in support provider, Deborah Evans, and supported living service provider, Chris Starke, Baptist was able to obtain intensive dental services donated by the University of Florida and the Special Day Foundation. UF dental hygienist Rachel Sabo visits Baptist on a monthly basis to make sure that he is maintaining proper dental hygiene. Through the guidance of his support team and his own drive towards independence, Baptist is learning to pay monthly bills and is well on the road to becoming more self-sufficient.

 “Terry is diligent at what he does and doesn’t stop until the job is done,” said chef Justin Harry at Tradewinds Resort.

 Baptist’s supervisor, Henry Harden, agrees.

 “Terry is very good at his job. He is focused and always on time. He’s just one of the regular guys,” Harden said.

 Because of his exemplary work at Tradewinds Resort, Baptist’s hours have increased to four days a week and he is now a valued permanent employee. When asked why he likes to work, Baptist replied, “It puts money in my pocket and I have co-workers that are my friends.”

 His long range goal is to purchase a home. “I don’t want to have to keep paying rent the rest of my life,” said Baptist.

 He also has a keen interest in environment sustainability and is always looking for ways to protect, recycle and reuse resources.

 In his free time, Baptist enjoys building model cars, playing video games, and watching documentaries and NASCAR races.

 APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn and work in their communities. The agency 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 1-866-273-2273 or visit APDcares.org.

 


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Disability Employment Awareness Month Wrap Up

APD ran a series of stories in our local paper, the Tallahassee Democrat, highlighting our clients who are successfully employed.  We had so many Success Stories publish we didn’t have time to blog about them all before October ended!  We only have three more stories that were published so I’ll go ahead and post them today.  Enjoy!

Higgins an integral part of his workplace team
By Melanie Mowry Etters, Special to the Democrat

Moran Environmental, Bobby Higgins

JACKSONVILLE — Bobby Higgins is truly dedicated to his maintenance and custodial job at Moran Environmental Recovery in Atlantic Beach.

Higgins, 52, loves his job, which he has had for more than a year. “I am doing a good job. They like me. I keep it nice and clean, and it smells good,” he said.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities is highlighting the contributions of people with disabilities to the workforce. Higgins has a developmental disability and receives services funded by APD.

He drives himself to work around 5 a.m. to get an early start on his responsibilities of cleaning, dusting, mopping, vacuuming and a variety of other duties. He fills a cooler with water bottles and ice for the work crews that are going out to work on environmental cleanup projects.

“Bobby quickly became part of the MER family. He happily adjusted his schedule to make sure certain tasks are done early and don’t disturb us during regular working hours. He is always on time, diligent, hard-working and very thorough in all his assignments. He lets us know when we have to make repairs or order supplies. And Bobby is always polite, professional and just a pleasure to be around,” said Leslie Detlefsen, the firm’s manager of business development.

An additional benefit for Higgins’ conscientious work ethic has been his shrinking waistline. “Bobby has dropped 40 pounds since he started working here,” Detlefsen said. “He always tells me when I need to order a new uniform for him. I know he is proud of that.”

Higgins lives with his sister and her husband in Jacksonville Beach. His passion outside of work is professional football. The tag on the front of his blue Dodge Dakota truck has a football on it along with “Bobby.” Higgins likes the Jacksonville Jaguars, however, he loves the Pittsburgh Steelers because he was born in Pennsylvania and lived there until 10 years ago.

Higgins has worked at other companies in the past. He hopes his future professional career remains at Moran. “I get along well with everybody,” Higgins said. “They told me that I am part of the team. I want to stay at Moran and continue to work there.”

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 and Down syndrome. For more about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit APDcares.org or call toll-free 1-866-273-2273.