This month is officially designated by Congress as National Disability Employment Awareness Month. In conjunction with the month, the St. Mary’s County Commission for People with Disabilities has announced four awards for workplace excellence. The awards were presented at the St. Mary’s County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday. Commission Chair Susan Erichsen read the following narrative on the awardees during the ceremony:
1. Volunteers of the Year Candidate should demonstrate exceptional efforts on the behalf of the disabled community through volunteering time and energy.
TALL TIMBERS OPTIMIST CLUB (2nd District)
“The Optimist of Tall Timbers 2nd District is dedicated to "Bringing Out the Best in Kids" through its local community service and outreach programs. Each Optimist group is independent and our 2nd District Optimists in St. Mary's County have several programs we have to help children in our area. From our Spring Dance to our Shop with a Cop program, to our Mentoring programs and Scholarships we strive to help kids reach their full potential. “
“Each year, the Optimist Club of Tall Timbers, 2nd District hosts a fundraising and kid friendly fall festival. Carnival games, moon bounce, costume contest, magic show, hayrides, and police demonstrations set the stage for an entertaining day. Everyone seems to remember that our proceeds are geared toward helping kids of our community and they have fun while donating to our causes. Half of these proceeds are gifted to Camp Inspire. The second half is awarded to a specific local child in need.”
2. Notable Employer Candidate should demonstrate exceptional effort in advancing employment opportunities to persons with disabilities
McKay’s Grocery is a locally owned business with 5 locations in St. Mary’s County. Founded in 1948 by Manning and Marilyn McKay the family owned and operated business employs 335 local residents 7 of whom have a disability ranging from a slight physical disability to those mentally challenged. Barry Burris, a fifty year old man who has Down’s syndrome works 5 mornings a week in the Deli at the McKay’s in Leonardtown and enjoys his job very much. Barry has worked at McKay’s for 5 years. Another of their special needs employees has been with the company 22 years. As many business owners know hiring and keeping good employee is the key to operating a successful retail business. The fact that many of these challenged employees have worked at McKay’s for many years speaks volumes about the companies concerns over our communities’ special needs citizens and for this reason I am nominating them for the Commission for Persons with Disabilities 2011 Notable Employer award.
3. Vicki Brown Award (formally the Outstanding Person with Disability Award) Candidate must be a person with a disability that enjoys all aspects of life and participates in advancement of barrier free access for all.
Scott is a resident of Mechanicsville, MD and sets a shining example of someone who is involved in his community. Scott graduated from Leonardtown High School in 2005 with a certificate of completion. While at Leonardtown, he made excellent progress and actively pursued extra-curricular activities such as playing percussion in the band, a stage hand in the drama club and he was a varsity team manager for both wrestling and football. In his senior year he had the unique opportunity to be selected to participate in an n opportunity for transitioning special education students and split his day between vocational placements with The Center for Life Enrichment and instruction at the College of Southern Maryland.
After graduation, he became a full time employee at the Center for Life Enrichment (TCLE), holding dual positions both as a van aide and a classroom assistant. During the past 6 years of employment he has achieved numerous milestones including, several Employee of the Month award selections, nomination of Employee of the Year and TCLE’s Safety Committee. He was also nominated by TCLE for the 2007 Maryland Association of Community Service awards program and was chosen as the 2007 recipient to receive the Maryland Achievement Award for outstanding personal accomplishments as a member of his community.
Scott is also an active volunteer, spending his free time as an assistant coach for St. Mary’s County Special Olympics Bocce team as well as volunteering for the Meals on Wheels and Pets on Wheels programs. He has had the privilege of being a cadet volunteer for the Hollywood Fire Department and Rescue Squad. Scott is very active socially as participant in Special Olympics and a regular member of a social group.
For these reasons and more, Scott has earned this recognition as the recipient of the Vicki Brown Award.
4. Facility Accessibility - Candidate should exhibit barrier-free optimum accessibility for persons with disabilities.
COLLEGE OF SOUTHERN MARLAND
The College of Southern Maryland, Leonardtown Campus has earned the respect of the disability community because of their planning and timely response to an issue that arose after the completion of their Wellness Center. CSM consulted with the St. Mary’s County ADA Coordinator and St. Mary’s County Public Schools Adapted Physical Education Coordinator during the design phase of the Wellness Center. After construction, accessible parking had been provided by the contractor, but as use of the Wellness Center began it was readily apparent that these spaces were poorly located and inadequate. CSM immediately corrected the location and created additional spaces when this issue was brought to their attention. Their efforts exceeded the legally mandated compliance and showed that the inclusion of the disability community is a priority. I nominate the College for the Facility Accessibility Award.