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.


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Powell is proven worker

By Emma Slier, Special to the Democrat

Stacy and Supervisor Enoch Wingate

 

 

 

 

 

 

TALLAHASSEE- The first thing you will notice upon meeting Stacy Powell is a good, solid handshake and a big smile.

Powell, 21, a St. Augustine native, has been working at Sonic Drive-In on Capital Circle Northwest in Tallahassee for five years. He is a full-time employee. Powell takes orders, prepares and delivers food to customers and does prep work for the next day’s business.

Powell feels that the best part of his job is providing good customer service. “I like delivering the orders out, and it doesn’t hurt that you get good tips, too,” he said.

Powell’s supervisor, Lakysha Bradley, has only good things to say about Powell. “Stacy is wonderful. I love him. He strives harder than other employees. He has a wonderful personality, great smile, and a wonderful work ethic,” Bradley said.

Another supervisor, Enoch Wingate, said, “I wish I had more employees like him.”

Powell has a disability and receives services from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. In addition, Powell works with a counselor from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. They are working on future career possibilities, talk about his current job and go over the ways in which he can achieve his long-term goals.

Powell is gaining computer skills at Lively Technical Center that he hopes will one day lead to a new career. “I like learning new things. I’m always up for a challenge,” he said.

Speaking of challenges, Powell is working on getting his driver’s license; he has passed the written portion and is practicing for his driving test.

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


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Rachel Doeble is a living success story

Written by James Vidrine, Special to the Democrat

 Rachel Doeble

NAPLES — Rachel Doeble is a determined young woman who pursues her personal and career goals and achieves them. Doeble has been working full-time since June 2011 at Regions Bank in North Naples. Her career in the banking industry began in 2004.

Doeble is married to her husband, John, and with his three children from a previous marriage and her young daughter, they created a large family with children ages 4, 6, 10 and 14. She truly has full days and even fuller nights.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) is showcasing the workplace achievements of people with disabilities and celebrating the employers that hire them. Doeble receives services from APD in Naples.

Things have not always been this bright for Doeble. She entered this world as a three month premature infant. At her birth, she tipped the scale at less than 3 pounds. She spent the first six weeks of her life in the hospital, gaining weight and increasing her strength, so she could go home.

Doeble’s parents, however, soon noticed problems with her development. In her 15th month, her pediatrician broke the difficult news to her parents. Her delayed development was due to cerebral palsy. This news, although a shock, did not deter them whatsoever. Her parents worked with her at home to master the developmental skills that other toddlers and preschool children seemed to achieve without effort.

When Doeble entered kindergarten, the work she and her parents had engaged in for years paid off handsomely. Rachel was able to walk independently, with some difficulty at times, but without the need for a wheelchair. She was described by others at school as a very friendly and likeable youngster, with excellent cognitive and vocabulary skills. Her teachers also noted she could be stubborn at times.

Perhaps it was her stubbornness that contributed to her ongoing ability to engage the world with a positive attitude and determination to succeed. Doeble recalls, “As a child I had difficulty maneuvering around in school. I had to learn how to ask for help when I needed it, but also how to decline offers for assistance that I did not need or want.”

Doeble’s positive and caring attitude and her determination to succeed have not gone unnoticed by her supervisors at Regions Bank. Her direct supervisor, head teller Kathy Wessling, describes Rachel’s work as amazing and fabulous. She depends on Rachel as her right hand at work. Wessling said, “Rachel is a very inspiring person. For someone who has a disability, she does not hold back on what she needs to do or what she wants to do. She has no fear.” Bank Manager Todd Ruggeri adds, “Rachel has the best outlook on life. She never gets upset or discouraged.”

APD Human Services Counselor Jose Delvalle is Doeble’s support coordinator. Delvalle said, “When I first met Rachel, I saw a person who wants to achieve her goals. She is a capable and an independent person who can handle any situation with thoughtfulness.”

Truly, Doeble is a person who is living a success story. Not only does she work full-time as a bank teller, but she is also a wife, mother, step-mother and she manages to provide a loving home for her family. Doeble wants to encourage others that have a disability to be persistent and persevere through difficulties and roadblocks to reach their dreams. Doeble said, “Don’t let negative thoughts get in your way. Play to your own strengths and this will assist you. Never be afraid to ask for help, especially at your workplace.”

Doeble’s positive and caring attitude and her determination to succeed have not gone unnoticed by her supervisors at Regions Bank. Her direct supervisor, head teller Kathy Wessling, describes Rachel’s work as amazing and fabulous. She depends on Rachel as her right hand at work. Wessling said, “Rachel is a very inspiring person. For someone who has a disability, she does not hold back on what she needs to do or what she wants to do. She has no fear.” Bank Manager Todd Ruggeri adds, “Rachel has the best outlook on life. She never gets upset or discouraged.”

APD Human Services Counselor Jose Delvalle is Doeble’s support coordinator. Delvalle said, “When I first met Rachel, I saw a person who wants to achieve her goals. She is a capable and an independent person who can handle any situation with thoughtfulness.”

Truly, Doeble is a person who is living a success story. Not only does she work full-time as a bank teller, but she is also a wife, mother, step-mother and she manages to provide a loving home for her family. Doeble wants to encourage others that have a disability to be persistent and persevere through difficulties and roadblocks to reach their dreams. Doeble said, “Don’t let negative thoughts get in your way. Play to your own strengths and this will assist you. Never be afraid to ask for help, especially at your workplace.”

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. For more information on iBudget Florida, visit iBudgetFlorida.org. To learn more about the agency, call 1-866-APD-CARES (1-866-273-2273) or visit APDcares.org.


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Hot dog cart gives team taste of entrepreneurship

By Cindy Drew, Special to the Democrat, Tallahassee Democrat, Oct. 15, 2012

 Ocala Hot Dog Vendors

 OCALA — When you run a successful hot dog vending business, you truly relish your work. And, that is certainly the case for nine APD customers who collectively run a hot dog cart just outside Goodwill industries on Silver Springs Boulevard in Ocala.

 Fred Allen, Charlotte Coach, Anthony Dayton, Becky French, Aisha Issa, Michael Jacobie, Josh Lessor, Kerr Sargood and Amy Thompson run the enterprise. Learning how to operate their own business has changed their lives and the lives of everyone around them.

 Amy Thompson, one of the nine workers, enjoys her new entrepreneurial world and her sense of pride is unmistakable. “I have been able to get better at my customer service skills. I have to take orders and run the register. It is definitely more responsibility for me, but I am learning more skills,” Thompson says.

 The hot dog business started in mid-May, but before it could even begin, each owner had to become a certified food handler. That means more than just cooking hot dogs. They each had to be able to keep precise temperature logs, use proper sanitation techniques, purchase and maintain inventory, and display outstanding customer service skills.

 The hot dog stand is open Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The start-up entrepreneurs have steady sales in the range of $1,200 a month. Initially, they needed support and help from their adult day skills trainer; however, after four months of operation they are able to run the business almost entirely own their own.

 The hard work has paid off. Not only have they learned basic business skills, they also track their progress on a specially designed spreadsheet. The program displays their bottom line on a big, easy-to-read, overhead screen.

 After carefully entering all the needed information, the program then calculates profits and losses so each worker can see what works and what doesn’t. If they purchase too much advance inventory, their profits fall. If they have a particularly good sales day, their reward is immediately seen. And, business is booming.

 The concept started when Derek Arnold, the supervisor for Goodwill Adult Day Training Program, did research and discovered that Marion County had numerous food-based businesses. Why go elsewhere? Arnold thought a hot dog cart would be a perfect match for hungry, lunchtime shoppers.

 After months of planning, fundraising and food handling training, the entrepreneurs are succeeding. “It’s amazing,” Arnold says. “At first they needed a lot of help. Now it has taken off.” He says he actually does very little supervision now. “They are involved in every facet. They can do it, and they are getting paid well,” he added.

 Each entrepreneur has had a taste of success and they love it. Sales are soaring but, more importantly, so is everyone’s sense of self esteem.

 The group has also become an inspiration to peers, customers, family and friends. People attending the Goodwill Adult Day Training program have seen for themselves how business dreams can come true and many want to follow in their footsteps. Change is in the air. Encouraged by their friend’s success, others are hoping for the same chance and are exploring opportunities to start a business.

 APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn, and work in their communities. For more about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit APDcares.org or call toll-free 1-866-273-2273.