Disabled advocacy group The Able Trust announced Friday it’s launching activities in Orlando to commemorate “Disability Employment Awareness Month,” or DEAM.

Part of those activities included handing out a dozen awards to honor individuals for their contribution to The Able Trust’s mission, which includes helping people with disabilities secure competitive paying jobs and supporting their skills development after their employment with ongoing support and training.

Topping the list of honorees at the 2018 Ability Awards was incoming Senate President Bill Galvono, who was named “Legislator of the Year.”

“This year, we are pleased to recognize Senate President-designate Galvano as our ‘Legislator of the Year,’” said Dr. Susanne Homant, president and CEO of The Able Trust. “He has been a good friend to The Able Trust over the years, and his stance on school safety during the 2018 Legislative Session, of which he was a leader, affects all students, including those with disabilities, and we applaud him for his tireless work.”

In accepting the award Galvano said, “Thank you to The Able Trust for naming me their ‘Senator of the Year.’ The Able Trust’s work connecting job seekers with businesses through community organizations has resulted in the employment of thousands of people with disabilities.

“I have known The Able Trust for many years and have long supported its successful efforts to make sure people with disabilities are a part of Florida’s workforce. The Able Trust is an organization that I am proud to support,” he concluded.

Other honorees included Karenne Levy of Tampa’s MacDonald Training Center; the Best Buddies program in Orlando; Lucy Mohs, public affairs director for the Florida Dept. of Education; Land O’ Lakes student R.J. Curtis; Justin Shea of Gulfport; Employers Caribe Royale Resort and Tavistock Development Company in Orlando as well as Pitney Bowes in Jacksonville; Port St. Joe Star editor Tim Croft; and attorney Richard Herring.

“The Able Trust is honored to have worked with these individuals and organizations on the mission of employment for people with disabilities,” Homant said. “Along with our Board and staff, they work very hard to make sure that a job, and for many a career, are viable options for Floridians with disabilities. We are proud to call them partners in this mission.”

The Able Trust said the DEAM activities are part of statewide and national programs designed to place job seekers with disabilities in business settings for mentoring, job shadowing and internships. These programs advance The Able Trust’s goal of increasing employment opportunities for Floridians with disabilities.

“Thousands of Floridians with disabilities want to work and are looking for the opportunity to showcase their skills and talents to potential employers,” said Melisa Lewis, registered nurse, High School High Tech (HSHT) alumnus and keynote speaker at the 2018 Ability Awards. “The DEAM program gives them an opportunity they might not otherwise get. I know my internships were invaluable in helping me achieve my career goals, and I thank The Able Trust for all that they did to help me succeed.”

The Able Trust, Melisa Lewis, Karenne Levy, MacDonald Training Center, Best Buddies, Lucy Mohs, Florida Department of Education, R.J. Curtis, Justin Shea, Employers Caribe Royale Resort, Tavistock Development Company, Pitney Bowes, Port St. Joe Star, Tim Croft, Richard Herring, Disability Employment Awareness Month, DEAM

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