Achievements of employees and employers honored in Montgomery
The achievements of employees with disabilities and businesses in Alabama were recognized at an awards reception Tuesday, Dec. 3, at 1 p.m. in the Gordon Persons Building Auditorium.
The ceremony was conducted by the Alabama Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, a program of the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS).
The honorees have earned top accolades in their respective categories, including large- and small-business employer of the year, partnership, youth leadership, media, student, educator, professional, and large- and small-business employee of the year.
Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services Commissioner Jane Elizabeth Burdeshaw thanked everyone for coming to celebrate the winners and the success that they have had in the past year. Burdeshaw said ADRS is excited to partner with organizations, individuals, and businesses to get individuals with disabilities off of the sidelines and into the workforce.
“To do that, it’s going to take a village,” she said. “It’s going to take all of us breaking down obstacles and stigmas so that we can help employers know that we have individuals that are valued and have value to them and their companies. We can only do that with your help.”
Burdeshaw expressed her gratitude to the educators, businesses, and workers who were willing to offer or create opportunities for people with disabilities in the workforce.
“Thank you so much for saying, ‘I can’ and ‘I will’ and for not accepting no for an answer,” she said. “We love you, we love the work that you do, and thanks for being here.”
In October, local committees from around the state recognized top individuals and businesses in their respective areas during “National Disability Employment Awareness Month” awards ceremonies. The state winners were chosen from these local winners in a dozen distinct categories following the local committee nominee submissions.
Award winners included Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller, Public Service Award; David Hyche, Advocate of the Year; Carpenters for Christ, Collaboration of the Year; William M. Roberts, Large Business Employee of the Year; Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, Large Business Employer of the Year; Matt Freeman, Educator of the Year; Larry Lee, Media of the Year; Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama, Stringfellow Health Fund, Exchange Bank of Alabama-Gadsden, and Beautiful Rainbow Café, Partnership of the Year; Metrology South Inc., Small Business Employer of the Year; Logan Tice, Student of the Year; Michael White, Youth Leadership Award; and Renee Maradik, Small Business Employee of the Year.
The Alabama Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities was created in the late 1940s by Gov. Jim Folsom as a response to veterans with disabilities who returned home and found no work available. Since that time, many individuals with disabilities, both veterans and civilians, have received the benefit of activities of the Governor’s Committee. The committee coordinates a network of local volunteer groups throughout the state and works closely with ADRS staff to develop employment opportunities and raise awareness of the needs and rights of Alabamians with disabilities.