October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and state officials commemorated the month during a recent Cabinet meeting.
Stacia Woolverton currently works for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, and has worked for the state in other capacities throughout her life.
“I’ve worked for APD for four years,” said Woolverton. “I’m the statewide receptionist. I answer the 1-800-number for them. And, I just want to say, for me, having a job gives me a sense of purpose because I know when I get up in the morning, that I’m not collecting from social security or just sitting around the house, but I’m able to get out and earn my own paycheck and do a great job.”
The 40-year-old is visually impaired, but Woolverton says she doesn’t let that stop her.
“I pray to Jesus every day, every morning when I get up that I’m able to give people some kind of hope because that’s always my goal,” she added. “I once had a man who called me who was visually-impaired, and he said, ‘I can’t work because I’m blind.’ And, I said, ‘well, if that were the case, I would not be talking to you because I’m visually-impaired and I’m working.’”
APD Director Palmer praised her for the value she brings to the agency.
“She has won the Star award for our agency because of the way she is with people,” said Palmer. “It’s just unbelievable. One of the things we were talking about is she doesn’t just know….I mean, if you’re going to do this job, you have to know everything about our agency and where to get the help. But, guess what? She knows everything about AHCA [Agency for Healthcare Administration], she knows everything about DJJ [Department of Juvenile Justice], she knows about Elder Affairs…she sends people to the right people in all these different agencies. She is truly a star.”
Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi also commended Woolverton for her work.
“And, I’m glad you’re so successful,” said Scott. “And, you’re an inspiration to so many other people.”
“You give us hope,” said Bondi, who introduced the resolution to commemorate Disability Employment Awareness Month.
“Yeah, and thank you for what you do as you talk to others and give them a glimmer of hope or more,” added Scott.
“Thank you,” Woolverton replied.
And, Palmer has a message for employers.
“To all the employers out there, this is Disability Awareness Employment Month,” said Palmer. “I challenge you to hire at least two people developmental disabilities or any type of disability.”
She says employers who want to hire people with disabilities can post openings on the Floridajobs.org.
Meanwhile, APD is also hosting an event next Wednesday to give awards to eight employers statewide that have led the way in hiring people with disabilities. The event—which will include informational displays and refreshments—will be held in Tallahassee’s City Hall from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
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