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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Melanie Mowry Etters
People of all abilities need work
By APD Director Barbara Palmer
Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet have officially declared October as Disability Employment Awareness Month in Florida. This is when the entire nation focuses on employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Florida’s theme is “Abilities Work.”
A top priority for the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities is to help people with developmental disabilities find employment. Our agency doesn’t just talk about hiring people with disabilities, it does it.
Working in the State Office of APD in Tallahassee is a little stick of dynamite named Stacia Woolverton. She is a call center representative and she knows her stuff. Woolverton provides information about APD and other disability-related resources to those who call in or email the agency, and to APD employees as well. She also provides Braille and large print for those who are visually impaired who attend meetings at APD.
As a visually impaired person herself, Woolverton is uniquely qualified to help callers with this and other disabilities. She has worked at APD for four years. Woolverton says, “I just love it when someone calls to say they can’t work because they have a disability.” Her response is, “Oh yes you can, just look at me.” She then gives them the right resources to find the help they need.
In our Northwest Regional office, Shannon Roberts comes to work with a smile on her face every day. She has been greeting the public and fellow employees with her friendly face for more than a year while serving as the afternoon receptionist and administrative assistant in Tallahassee.
Roberts said, “There is always something new to learn each day. I love learning new things. It keeps you educated.”
In addition to working for APD, Roberts receives services from the agency too. Roberts was born with Williams syndrome in Jacksonville in 1985. She was adopted at 6 months old by her parents, Marty and Kathy Roberts. When she was a freshman in high school, her father’s insurance job transferred the family to Tallahassee.
APD Northwest Regional Operations Manager Lynne Daw hired Roberts to provide administrative support. Daw said, “Shannon comes to the office with a smile on her face and excited about work. She is the face of APD. She greets people cheerfully and directs them to the right staff members for assistance. She is very capable at meeting our office’s needs.”
Individuals with disabilities just want a chance to show what they can do for a willing employer. APD works in partnership with the state's Vocational Rehabilitation program to provide support that the individual and the employer may need to ensure a successful job match.
On Wednesday, APD, VR, Blind Services, Department of Economic Opportunity, Veterans' Affairs, Able Trust, and other agencies will gather at Tallahassee City Hall, 300 S. Adams St., to recognize eight employers from around the state who have shown their commitment to hiring people with disabilities. The 10th Annual Exceptional Employer Awards event begins at 8:30 a.m. I hope to see you there.
We need more companies that are willing to provide job opportunities to all people who are qualified and able to perform the work. APD and other programs are here to help your organization make a good job match. We will be there in the future should there become a need. We want your organization to have diligent and reliable employees like Stacia and Shannon.
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).