Provided By: Michigan NewsWire
Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) in the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) has collaborated with the Michigan Rehabilitation Council to recognize employers, partners, customers and MRS employees who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to Michigan’s public vocational rehabilitation programs.
“We commend these champions for developing innovative partnerships that are opening up workplaces across the state to Michiganders with disabilities where they are no longer considered disabled, but are considered valued members of the workforce,” said LARA Director Steven H. Hilfinger. “It’s just good business to put these qualified, able, and productive workers to work to gain independence and contribute to Michigan’s economy.”
Gov. Rick Snyder has proclaimed October 2011 as Investing in Abilities Month to encourage employers to hire qualified people with disabilities, focusing on their abilities and to increase the public’s awareness of the contributions and skills of Michigan workers with disabilities.
This is third annual Champion Awards and the second consecutive year that MRS has expanded its highly successful award program to recognize not only employers but also partner programs, customers, and employees. MRS offices around the state nominated champion candidates. The consistent theme from those nominated was demonstration of the “value” of hiring and retaining vocational rehabilitation customers. Michigan Rehabilitation Services reports that for every dollar spent in FY 2009 on public vocational rehabilitation services, $10.53 returns to Michigan’s economy.
The 2011 MRS Champion Award recipients are:
Employers who have consistently employed or championed individuals with disabilities based on their abilities:
Eugene Blount, area supervisor (Grand Rapids); Great Lakes Cleaning, St. Joseph
Ed Hammer, owner; Wooden Hammer, Ltd., Elk Rapids
Partners who have demonstrated a strong commitment to empower individuals with disabilities to take charge of their futures:
Rosaline Kuiper, MA, CRC, special education teacher; Eastern High School, Lansing
Nancy Smithem, job placement specialist; Grand Traverse Industries, Alpena
Customers (including youth) who are motivated and committed to acquire employment:
Preab Lem, Monroe
Roy M. Mussatti, Wakefield
Employees who consistently meet or exceed all goals and expectations in providing outstanding service to customers, staff, and community partners:
Audrey Bagnowski, MA, CRC, MRS counselor; MRS Monroe Office, Monroe
Nickco Dixon, MA, NCC, LPC, MRS counselor; Detroit/Milwaukee Office, Detroit
“People with disabilities consistently rate above average in reliability, performance and safety, and have proven to be an untapped resource,” said Hilfinger. “Employers who are ‘investing in abilities’ by hiring people with disabilities are realizing a great return on that investment.”
The MRS awards were presented to the champions by the MRS counselors who nominated them. The awards were engraved by students in the Cabinetmaking/Millwork program at the Michigan Career and Technical Institute, a vocational and technical training school operated by Michigan Rehabilitation Services and located in Southwest Michigan. The award presentation and luncheon was held in the Mackinac Room of the Anderson House Office Building in Lansing.
MRS assists more than 7,000 individuals with disabilities to achieve competitive employment and self-sufficiency annually. This is the 91st anniversary year of the vocational rehabilitation program in Michigan.
For more information about LARA, please visit www.michigan.gov/lara. Follow us on Twitter www.twitter.com/michiganLARA, ” Like ” us on Facebook or find us on YouTube www.youtube.com/michiganLARA.