Annual disability awareness awards presented

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Annual disability awareness awards presented

Leonardtown MD - 7/30/2013

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By Press Release, St. Mary's County PIO

Photo courtesy St. Mary's County Public Information Office
Photo courtesy St. Mary's County Public Information Office

The St. Mary’s Board of County Commissioners, along with the St. Mary’s Commission for People with Disabilities (COPD), on Tuesday presented 2013 ADA Awareness Awards to six individuals and one business. The awards are part of COPD’s initiative to create awareness about the disability community.

This year’s winners are as follows:

vVolunteer of the Year:  Marcia Bald

vNotable Employer:  Paula Hummer/NAVAIR

vVicki Brown Award (formerly Outstanding Person with Disability award):    Youth – Kayla Woolridge   Adult – Chris Huseman

vFacility Accessibility :  Sanner Lake Sportsman Club

vInnovative Program:  Rev. John Dakes, St. Aloysius Special Needs Ministry (Rev. David Beaubien accepting)

vOutstanding Individual Achievement Award:  Betty Bush

This year’s ceremony coincided with the 23rd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The following is the information on each awardee presented during the ceremony by the Chairman of the Commission for Person with Disabilities Eric Colvin

1. Volunteers of the Year Candidate should demonstrate exceptional efforts on the behalf of the disabled community through volunteering time and energy.

Marcia Bald

Marcia Bald is a long time resident of St. Mary’s County and the parent of a 32 yr old with autism. Marcia has been involved for many years in a number of volunteer programs for persons with disabilities. In the l990’ s Marcia sat on the Citizens Advisory Board for Special Education, an advisory board that  is made up of parents of special needs students informing the BOE of students needs. Marcia currently serves on the board of directors for the Center For Life Enrichment as well as the Standing Committee for CFLE which is a quality assurance group which inspects programs and job sites involving the clients who attend the Center for Life Enrichment. Marcia is also very involved with the SMC Special Olympics, serving as a basketball coach and is very involved in the production of the Special Olympics Spring Games. For this reason I nominate Marcia Bald for the COPD Volunteer award.

2. Notable Employer Candidate should demonstrate exceptional effort in advancing employment opportunities to persons with disabilities

Paula Hummer/NAVAIR

Paula Hummer is the primary recruiter for Individuals with Disabilities (IWD) and the lead Human Resource Specialist for the Engineer and Scientist Developmental Program at the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), she works diligently to assist people with disabilities to gain employment within the federal government and often works one-on-one to facilitate the hiring process through high touch contact.

Ms. Hummer championed the improvement and expansion of employment accessibility and worked closely over the years with the EEO Office to afford equal benefits and full access to the benefits of employment.  Ms. Hummer has been a driving force behind NAVAIR’s success in hiring of IWD/Individuals with Targeted Disabilities.   

Also, Ms. Hummer serves as the coordinator and planner for all NAVAIR Meet and Greet hiring events.  This is an innovative career hiring and placement event where people with disabilities are afforded the opportunity to travel to the Naval Air Station in Patuxent River, Maryland to meet with NAVAIR hiring managers, be interviewed for potential jobs, tour the facility, and to experience firsthand a new prospective community.

Ms. Hummer was an integrated team member for executing training for supervisors and hiring managers on etiquette relative to interviewing persons with disabilities. This action resulted in participants being more comfortable during the interview process and aided in barrier removal of paradigms and stereotypes about IWDs.  Her tireless efforts have made a direct impact and contributed to the hiring of 838 employees with a disability, which includes 78 employees with a targeted disability, and 368 military veterans with a 30% or more service connected disability rating.

The accomplishments of Ms. Hummer were made possible by her dedication and commitment to the employment of persons with disabilities and disabled veterans should serve as an exemplary standard for any organization seeking to bolster their diversity with similar hiring initiatives.

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.

YOUTH- Kayla Woolridge

Kayla Woolridge, a 16 year old Great Mills High school student is your typical teenager who enjoys trips to the mall and movies with her friends and going to dances and sporting events.  She dreams of her future career of becoming a nurse specializing in working with children and is a tough competitor in sports. Kayla loves animals and is a member of the Fellowship for Christian Athletes at GMHS. She enjoys riding her bike and volunteering at the Well Pet Clinic.

Kayla is however, far from your typical teen; In fact she is 1 in 1,000. Kayla was born with the most severe type of Spina Bifida and thus, uses a wheelchair for mobility, but don’t think this slows her down! Kayla’s drive and determination inspired the creation of Paralympic Sport Southern MD.  Kayla swims for the sports club, swims competitively with the Chesapeake Bay Aquatics Club and for the Great Mills High school swim team. When she is not swimming you can find Kayla on the slopes! She has skied competitively for Maryland Special Olympics and with Two Top Adaptive skiing program. Kayla also volunteers her time with Special Olympics as a kayak coach and has volunteered at the Paralympic Experience Day. She has been featured in several local newspaper articles and even participated in a national ad campaign for the Department of Labor…”What can you Do?” public service announcement.

Kayla is a shining example of a person that enjoys all aspects of life, regardless of the obstacles life has given her, this is why I believe she is an excellent candidate for the Vicki Brown Award.

ADULT- Chris Huseman

Chris Huseman is a 32 year old man who lives in Hollywood, Maryland. Chris has Cerebral Palsy and uses a walker to ambulate. I have known Chris for some 20years and consider him an inspiration to persons with disabilities Chris graduated from Leonardtown  High School in 2001 where he attended regular classes and studied very hard to attain his diploma. He later tutored students in the evenings who were having trouble with their classes. Chris currently works 5 days a week on the Patuxent River Naval Air Station with the Cost Analysis group at the Naval Air Warfare Center. He rides the STS Public Transportation system where he travels independently to and from work. In his spare time Chris enjoys spending time with friends and participates in the PALS and Special Friends Programs which offer social events for persons with special needs. For this reason, I nominate Chris Huseman for the Vickie Brown Award also known as, The Outstanding Person with a Disability Award.

4. Facility Accessibility  - Candidate should exhibit barrier-free optimum accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Sanner Lake Sportsmans Club

We nominate Sanner Lake Sportsman’s Club for the organization’s efforts to upgrade their facilities to near ADA-compliant status. Although we are a private club, we have partnered with the County to upgrade our facilities to enable persons with disabilities to better access them.  Our facilities have been improved to enable marksmen with disabilities more easily use them and further improvements are in-process. Since partnering with the Recreation and Parks on this effort we have hosted an increasing number of shooters with physical disabilities, both youths and adults. Several of these folks have joined the Club as full-fledged members (although this is not required for participation). Amongst those disabled shooters recently taking advantage of SLSC’s program offerings are included folks challenged with muscular dystrophy, spinal bifida, and chronic spinal degeneration and amputees. We have upgraded the Rifle-Range with handicapped-accessible ramp, accessible parking spaces, and firing-line and added accessible rifle-rests areas. We have upgraded the pistol-range to include accessible parking and ramp, and construction of a wheelchair-compatible shooting bench is in-process.  In addition, all porta potties on the range have been replaced with accessible ones.

5. Innovative Program Candidate should exhibit innovative plan and its execution for inclusion of persons with disabilities in an area of community life.

Rev John Dakes, St. Aloysius Special Needs Ministry (Rev. David Beaubien accepted the award for St. Aloysius. Rev. John Dakes was recently reassigned to another church.) 

Rev. John Dakes is the pastor of St. Aloysius Catholic Church, Leonardtown. He has initiated a dynamic new effort to serve persons with special needs in St. Mary’s County. Since establishing the St. Aloysius Special Needs Ministry in June 2012, the parish has offered liturgies for and with persons with special needs, faith formation for persons with special needs and community-based social opportunities for persons with special needs and their families.  Individuals who have benefited from this effort are teens, and young adults with a variety of needs, including autism, intellectual and physical disabilities. 

This new ministry quickly has become one of the largest ministries, with many persons of good will participation to provide services and supports.  More than 25 members make up the ministry, including medical professionals, educators, parents and others. It is supported by a grant from Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington.

The Ministry has also been an advocate for persons with disabilities in St. Mary’s County, collaborating with location service organizations such as Agape Ministry and the Center for Life Enrichment.  Other local parishes in St. Mary’s County are developing their own special needs ministry due to Father Dakes leadership. Fr. Dakes has been an inspiring leader of this ministry, allowing it to grow and meet the needs of his parish and  of the larger St. Mary’s County Community.  On behalf of the Archdioceses of Washington’s Department of Special Needs Ministries, we enthusiastically endorse this nomination.

6. Outstanding Individual Achievement Award- Candidate must exhibit exceptional effort in the promotion of independence for person with disabilities

Betty Bush

I would like to nominate Betty Bush for the Outstanding Individual Achievement Award for her exemplary service to the individuals who attend the St. Mary’s Adult Medical Day Care, Inc. Hollywood, Maryland.  The St. Mary’s Adult Medical Day Care, Inc. is also known as the Ripple Center.

Ms. Bush has been employed at the Ripple Center for 20 years.  When she first started in 1993, she was hired as a certified nursing assistant.  In 2012, Ms. Bush was promoted to the Director of Activities.  On an average day, the Ripple Center serves approximately 35 to 40 individuals.  The Ripple Center provides care to individuals with Alzheimer’s and related dementia diseases, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, head injury, diabetes, and individuals in need of stimulation to address physical atrophy and depression.  The Ripple Center provides a safe place for the individual to be during the day while their family care giver is working or needing time for their own personal daily activities.

Ms. Bush has personally brought new ideas and activities to the Center to improve the participant’s quality of life and daily living.  She has developed age-specific activities such as scavenger hunt where participants are given clues to find hidden items around the Center to promote exercises as well as entertainment.  Ms. Bush also developed a discussion group called “What’s Your Beef With Betty?” that allows participants to discuss current topics in the news and how they feel about it.  Ms. Bush is also the primary coordinator for the annual Spring prom which participants and their families attend reminiscent of school proms of yore including a prom king and queen and a fabulous luncheon and dancing.  Her outgoing, bubbly personality is an entertainment in itself for the participants to enjoy while at the Center.  Participants look forward to coming again because of the overwhelming joy they feel when they enter the Center each day and are greeted by Ms. Bush.

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