Phoenix Arizona


Ability Counts Winners Overcome Disability Obstacles by quotes

 Ability Counts Winners Overcome Disability Obstacles

Eleven Valley individuals and organizations were recognized recently for their ability to overcome barriers and significantly contribute to the advancement of people with disabilities at the 2006 Ability Counts Community and Student awards luncheon.

The Phoenix Mayor’s Commission on Disability Issues and the city’s Equal Opportunity Department coordinate the Ability Counts Community Awards Program, which recognizes various individuals and organizations each year.

This year’s community award winners are:

  • Don Aldrich Advocacy Award – Dr. Lori Latowski Grover
  • Employer of the Year Award Matrixx Initiatives Inc.
  • Employee of the Year Award – Sharon Gibbs, Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired
  • Architectural Accessibility Award Schumacher European Ltd.
  • Phoenix Mayor’s Award – Gary S. Corcoran

The annual student awards program recognized six outstanding students with disabilities for their personal and academic achievements. The students received financial awards based on their grade level. The winner in grades one through six received a cash award of $500 and the winner in grades seven through nine received a cash award of $1,000. The winner in grades 10 to 12 received a cash award of $1,500 and the three college winners received a cash award of $2,000 each. The John F. Long Foundation and the Phoenix Suns Charities provided the scholarship funds.

This year’s five student awards winners are:

Grades 1 – 6

Halie Bayless, R.E. Simpson Elementary School

Grades 7 – 9

Connor Westberg Doty, Desert Vista High School

Grades 10 – 12

Adam Schmuki, Shadow Mountain High School

College

Jessi McDonald, IIA (International Institute of Americas)

John “Matt” Hoie, Paradise Valley Community College

Jenna Gibbs, Arizona State University West Campus

The event was sponsored by the Phoenix Mayor’s Commission on Disability Issues, Phoenix Equal Opportunity Department. Here is information about the winners:

Dr. Lori Latowski GroverDon Aldrich Advocacy Award

Dr. Grover has provided an immense amount of awareness for the population of individuals with vision impairment, especially for children with vision loss. She has worked for the Foundation for Blind Children, a non-profit agency serving visually impaired children and adults for the past three years. At the foundation, Dr. Grover developed the area’s first comprehensive agency-based low-vision department serving underprivileged populations with eye care.

Dr. Grover has served as a volunteer representative from the Arizona Optometric Association Legislative Committee since 2000. She played a major role in the inclusion of new language for driver’s license recently implemented in January 2006 to include people with low vision, bringing Arizona to the table with 38 other states who afford safe and legal driving for qualified adults with vision impairment.

She has given hours of personal time educating doctors and the public through lectures about the abilities of people with vision loss. Dr. Grover’s other volunteer activities include collaborative

efforts with the University of Arizona, St. Joseph’s Hospital and the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind. She has provided medical care to children at high risk of vision impairment as a “Health Safari” volunteer doctor.

Matrixx Initiatives Inc. Employer of the Year

Matrixx Initiatives Inc. is recognized for its outstanding efforts to enhance employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The company made it possible for Gompers Center Vocational Department and Valley of the Sun Vocational Services to employ more than 150 adults with disabilities through hand and machine packaging jobs.

Beginning October 2005 through April 2006, these centers were busy completing more than 480 thousand units of products for local and national retail stores. Matrixx Initiatives Inc. provided machinery and installed the necessary assistive components for these individuals to learn new skills and use the machines.

Sharon Gibbs, Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired – Employee of the Year

Sharon Gibbs first came to the center 15 years ago as a client who lost an eye to glaucoma and had limited vision in the other eye. She began volunteering as the centers receptionist and answered hundreds of calls daily. Gibbs assumed responsibility for helping clients and members of the community purchase or replace adaptive aids and devices like mobility canes, talking watches and Braille paper machines.

She enthusiastically filled the position of volunteer coordinator and began revising the screening and recruiting process to provide better security. Gibbs developed an orientation program, personally instructed all new volunteers in sighted-guide techniques and created a diversity of recognition and appreciation methods to continually let the volunteers know how valued they were to the success of the organization. After 15 years as a volunteer, she become a full-time employee.

Schumacher European Ltd. Architectural Accessibility

Schumacher European Ltd, a Mercedes-Benz dealership, was carefully planned and designed with more than the minimum required amenities for people with disabilities. The vision during the design process was to be accommodating to all customers.

The architect and contractor were instructed to do “their best” and the final result was a dealership that is an excellent example of a facility that accommodates people with disabilities. The facility offers accessible parking at all entrances, high-low drinking fountains, a customer waiting room with a coffee bar that provides for wheelchair seating at both the counter and tables and a customer lounge with wheelchair accessible seating at its Internet computers.

Gary CorcoranPhoenix Mayor’s Award

Gary Corcoran has volunteered thousands of hours serving as a representative of persons with disabilities for more than a decade. He continuously demonstrates the outstanding abilities of a professional person with a disability. Cocoran served as chair of the Phoenix Mayor’s Commission on Disability Issues (MCDI) and co-chaired MCDI’s transportation and housing committees. He is a respected advisor to City Council members, businesses and non-profit organizations in Phoenix and helped to establish the Arizona Statewide Independent Living Council.

Cocoran is a member of the Phoenix Citizens Transit Commission, city of Phoenix Development Advisory Board, Alhambra Village Planning Commission and the Maricopa County Housing Authority. He is, or has been, a member of accessibility oversight committees for numerous projects including Chase Field, US Airways Center, Dodge Theatre and the Phoenix light rail project. He also has given many recommendations for improving accessibility at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Through his effective team building and sensitivity to the needs of others, Corcoran has made far-reaching policy recommendations in structuring, implementing and overseeing Transit 2000, establishment of the monthly Dial-A-Ride pass, citywide transit vehicle accessibility and improved housing policies. He also has participated in numerous city bond campaigns.

Grades 1 – 6

Halie Bayless – R.E. Simpson Elementary School

Halie Bayless is an ambitious fifth grader with a “can do” spirit despite the fact that she is blind. In the classroom, she earned the title “teacher of the day” for her reading efforts and also was selected as “student of the month” for her overall efforts in academics and community spirit. She works hard to increase her skills with the use of assisted technology for her academics.

Bayless recently won the Alhambra District’s fourth grade poetry contest and was published. She also was runner up in the Junior Miss beauty pageant. She is on the Washington School pool dive team and finished fourth in her age group out of five.

For the last two years, she has been top child fund raiser for the FFB Bowling for the Blind. Bayless also sings in the children’s church choir. Along with the Girl Scouts from her troop 1273, she is sending cookies and cards to our service people in Iraq. Her response to situations always exceeds expectations and sets the bar for others.

Grades 7 – 9

Connor Westberg Doty – Desert Vista High School

Connor Westberg Doty set a goal to be successful in school, not just in subjects he lived, but in the ones he didn’t like math and science. He is a lover of animals and his teachers count on him to take care of class pets. Doty’s passion has translated into a love for biology and zoology. He has made straight As in science and recently won an award for computer technology. His future goal is to go to college and find a job saving endangered species.

Doty finished the last school year on the honor roll. He also won two awards at the eighth grade awards ceremony and has received recognition for his hard work and academic accomplishments. The Altadena teachers and staff awarded him with the “Whatever it Takes Award” for students who despite huge obstacles and challenges do whatever it takes to become successful. Although Doty is autistic, he has never let his disability hinder him from his dreams.

Grades 10 – 12

Adam Schmuki – Shadow Mountain High School

Adam Schmuki qualified to compete in the 2004 and 2005 National Junior Disability Championships and in 2004, he won all five events he entered despite a spinal condition he has had

since birth. Since middle school, he has used a wheelchair as his primary means of mobility. In 2006, he competed in the Grand Canyon State Games with non-disabled athletes and qualified for the State Games of America Nationals in swimming, where he received the APS Power Player Award for display of extraordinary character.

With ongoing surgeries, Schmuki has worked to maintain a 3.5 GPA with a rigorous schedule and classes required for college. His love for reading has helped him become knowledgeable in many areas with history as his current favorite subject.

College

Jessi McDonald – International Institute of Americas (IIA)

Since the age of nine, Jessi McDonald has participated in the “Special Friends Program” under the umbrella of the state’s Child Protective Services. The program allowed him to participate in the community under the supervision of licensed CPS volunteers. During Jessi’s senior year, he was a recipient of the “Student of the Month Award” and was recognized for his service to his school.

On his graduation in May 2005, Jessi was awarded a prestigious honor sponsored by the Peoria Education Enrichment Foundation. The award was presented to one outstanding boy and one outstanding girl per high school. The scholarship award is called “Against all Odds.” Jessi’s grade point average offered him the opportunity to pursue higher education at IIA (International Institute of the Americas). He recently received his certificate for “Front Office Medical Administration.”

Jenna Gibbs – ASU West Campus

Jenna Gibbs began her life-long community service efforts as a Girl Scout who was always willing to help. She has interned and volunteered for organizations such as the American Red Cross, Arizona Humane Society, Muscular Dystrophy Association summer camp and the West Valley Crisis Nursery. At a very early age, her parents were told that she would never walk, talk or communicate. She does all three very well.

She recently completed a social work internship with the Glendale Family Development Center where she provided support to families attend the center as well as the staff. Gibbs was an honor roll student in high school and was in the Society of Women Scholars all four years. She maintained a 4.0 GPA in college graduating with a degree in psychology. Gibbs has begun her second year of a two-year Master of Social Work curriculum at ASU West.

Currently, she is placed as a hospital social worker at Banner Thunderbird Samaritan Hospital. Gibbs will graduate in May 2007 with her master’s in social work.

John “Matt” Hoie – Paradise Valley Community College

John “Matt” Hoie has a goal to help others and has volunteered more than 500 hours of service to community recreation programs, serving teens and young adults with disabilities. He is a member of Arizona’s State Leadership Team on Transition and has been a panel presenter in Washington D.C.

Another goal of his has been to participate in drama, and over the past four years, he has landed roles in three performances at his high school. In May 2006, Hoie graduated from Paradise Valley High school with a 3.71 GPA. He was voted “most outstanding senior” by the special services faculty and was the recipient of the Bryan J. Pollan Memorial Scholarship. As he prepared for graduation, he took and passed the AIMS test with an excelling score in writing.

Last spring he began a part-time job at the Scottsdale YMCA where he is developing new skills. Hoie has earned nine hours of college credit and currently is enrolled to continue his education at Paradise Valley Community College. His goal is to study exercise science.

A Special Recognition award was presented to the Phoenix Police Department’s Accessibility Enforcement (ACE) Program Volunteers. The ACE Program Volunteers respond throughout the city issuing disabled parking citations. Their mission is to provide safe and accessible parking spaces for the disabled community through enforcement and education. Directed response is accomplished by responding to locations identified through the Save Our Space Hotline. Currently there are 20 volunteers providing more than 250 hours of service and writing up to 200 citations each month.

The luncheon this year is dedicated to Randy Werner, a strong advocate for the disability community. His gift of song, compassion, big heart and endless smile gave others the courage and will to help them overcome barriers to self-development, employment and independent living. Werner passed away in December 2005, but his spirit of giving lives on.

He started Upward Motions in the early 1990s, a disability counseling and consulting business. Through his church and business, Werner worked tirelessly to improve the lives of people with disabilities through his money, time, energy and support. He maintained and supported disability organizations including ABIL (Arizona Bridge to Independent Living) and the Phoenix Mayor’s Commission on Disability Issues.

The Phoenix Mayor’s Commission on Disability Issues commemorates Randy Werner’s life and recognizes his commitment to the disability community.

For more information on the awards and the Mayor’s Commission on Disability Issues,

Call 602-262-7486/voice, 602-534-1557/TTY or visit phoenix.gov/mcdi.



Women’s Economic Forum Offers Steps to Increase Earning Power by quotes

 Women’s Economic Forum Offers Steps to Increase Earning Power

“Women Talk: Money and More!” is the topic of a Women’s Economic Forum from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11, at Phoenix College, John Paul Theatre, 1202 W. Thomas Road.

The free event will provide a forum for women to learn about personal economic growth and development. Panelists will offer presentations on current civil rights issues impacting women, personal safety awareness, mental and physical health for the working mom, guiding students toward a life of connectedness, and defining retirement dreams and retiring to something rather than from something.

The panel discussion will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Panelists include Virginia Herrera-Gonzales, chief counsel, Arizona Attorney General’s Office, Civil Rights Division; Commander Jeri Williams, Phoenix Police Department; Nina Mares, personal and career counselor, GateWay Community College; and Laura Wagner, platinum financial advisor, Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. The panel moderator is Cristina K. Munoz, community relations/business development manager, West & Southwest Business Units, Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc.

The commission in partnership with the National Association of Commissions for Women “Healthy Bones Program” will offer a free osteoporosis screening and educational information from 10:30 a.m. to l:30 p.m. as part of a national initiative to raise awareness of the risk to women of osteoporosis, the silent disease.

The forum is sponsored by the Phoenix Women’s Commission and the city of Phoenix Equal Opportunity Department in partnership with Phoenix College and Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. Lunch is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Seating is limited. For more information or to register, call 602-261-8242 or 602-534-1557/TTY by Oct. 4.



Fair Housing Workshop by quotes

 Fair Housing Workshop

Learn more about fair housing practices and laws at a free two-hour workshop from 9 a.m. to noon Thursday, Aug. 17, at Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 N. Central Ave.

The workshops, sponsored by the city of Phoenix Equal Opportunity Department, will explain how fair housing practices apply to apartments, houses, condominiums and mobile home parks.

It is illegal for housing providers to discriminate against tenants, rental applicants or customers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or familiar status. Housing providers include landlords, leasing agents, realtors, property managers and others.

Examples of housing discrimination include refusing to show an apartment, condominium or house to an interested minority applicant; having an “all adult” complex, except for senior housing; and building or designing an apartment complex that is not handicap accessible.

Registration is suggested. Call 602-262-7486/voice or 602-534-1557/TTY to register.



Phoenix Arizona – Certification Workshops for Minority, Women and Small Business Owners by quotes

Phoenix Arizona –Certification Workshops for Minority, Women and Small Business Owners

Minority, woman and small business owners in Maricopa County are invited to attend free workshops and learn more about the city of Phoenix business certification programs and how they can provide opportunities for small business economic growth.

The city’s Equal Opportunity Department is offering a yearlong series of monthly educational workshops to help business owners complete the application process for certification with the city as a minority-, woman-owned or small business enterprise. The workshops offer in-depth information about the requirements, process and benefits of becoming certified.

The next workshop will be from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8, at Longview Community Center, 4040 N. 14th St.

Seating is limited for these presentations. Call the Phoenix Equal Opportunity Department at 602-262-6790/voice or 602/534-1557/TTY to reserve a space.