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September 22, 2015

CONTACT:Melanie Mowry Etters
Communications Director
(850) 414-7551

APD Wins Two Awards

Tallahassee -The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) has been named 2015 Customer of the Year by RESPECT of Florida. The award was presented during the 39th Annual Conference of the Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (Florida ARF) in Clearwater which manages the RESPECT program. RESPECT employs more than 1,300 individuals with disabilities who provide commodities and services to businesses throughout the state.

Also during the conference, APD Southeast Deputy Regional Operations Manager Rita Castor was recognized as the 2015 Mary Thiel Award recipient.  Castor is an outstanding advocate for people with disabilities.

APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “We are thrilled to receive the Customer of the Year Award from RESPECT.  That means a great deal to us and it shows our agency is supporting jobs for individuals with disabilities. APD promotes employment opportunities for people with disabilities so it is important that we buy goods and services from those same individuals. Also, we are so proud of Rita Castor for receiving the Mary Thiel Award. There is no one more deserving of this recognition.”

Chief Executive Officer of Palm Beach Habilitation Center Tina Philips presented the Mary Thiel Award to Castor. Phillips said during the ceremony, “Rita Castor is someone who has a get it done attitude. Castor has been instrumental in ensuring that individuals have the supports to be successful in the community. She has always been resourceful in finding supports and services regardless of budgetary constraints. Our recipient has fostered a sense of teamwork between the state and provider community, realizing that we are all in this together. This belief is what makes the Southeast Region operate smoothly and efficiently. One of the highest compliments I can offer is our recipient has always advocated for what is in the best interest of individuals with disabilities.”

Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities President and CEO Suzanne Sewell said, “On behalf of the Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, it was our honor to award APD Employee Rita Castor our 2015 Mary Thiel award.  This award is given to a public-sector employee who has made an outstanding contribution to community services for people with developmental disabilities in the same manner demonstrated by Mary Thiel.  Rita Castor is a shining example of what we seek in the recipient. Our membership appreciates her willingness to go the extra mile to ensure that individuals with disabilities receive the services they need, and she is always there to respond to provider concerns and needs. Also, we commend APD for its support and interest in the RESPECT of Florida program which creates job opportunities for individuals with severe disabilities.”