Nominations open for disabilities awareness month awards

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The Wilson Committee for Persons with Disabilities is participating in National Disability Employment Awareness Month by accepting nominations for its annual recognitions of Employee of the Year, Employer of the Year, Advocate of the Year, Professional of the Year and Educator of the Year.

Nominations are due to the city of Wilson’s human relations office by Wednesday. The purpose of awareness month is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.

Award nominations are open in Wilson to individuals, employees, employers, organizations, businesses, friends and family members. The Wilson Committee for Persons with Disabilities Committee is searching to recognize disabled citizens who make contributions to the community, disabled employees who are doing a fantastic job, employers who empower the disabled to keep working, in addition to educators, professionals and advocates who go above and beyond to help the disabled community.

The nomination process is a simple one-page form. The nomination needs an attached letter sharing the story about and providing insight on the nominee.

“We are looking for those whose work exemplifies the national effort to increase the public’s awareness of the contributions and skills of American workers with disabilities” said Renee Smith, director of the human relations office. “We also will take time to recognize those professionals that work each day in the disabilities field, serve as educators and lead the way as advocates.”

According to the Congressional Committee findings for the American Disabilities Act, 43 million Americans are disabled and of that, only one-third are 65 year or older. Estimated reports find that about 1 million Americans use wheelchairs. The No. 1 reported injuries to soldiers returning home from today’s war conflicts are head trauma and brain injury, often not diagnosed properly for six months to a year.

“We know there are many employees working with disabilities, employers that hire those with disabilities and very active advocates and professional in Wilson,” said Smith. “Our committee is doing all they can to reach out, but we need the help of the community to nominate these amazing and dedicated people.”

The 2017 award winners included were Professional of the Year, Maurice Barnes, with Wilson County Schools. The Educator of the Year was Jennifer Watson of Darden Middle School. The Advocate of the Year was Altise Harris. The Employer of the Year was Wilson House. And the top award, Employee of the Year, was awarded to Brandon James for his work at Texas Steakhouse and Saloon.

Certificates of Appreciation for their inclusive work with the disabled included the Veteran’s Residential Services of Wilson, Land of Learning Child Care, Food Lion of Wilson, Amy Jo’s Country Restaurant and the Murphy Family Farm.

The Wilson Committee for Persons with Disabilities will host a celebration award luncheon on Thursday, Oct. 18, at noon in the Wilson Country Club. This allows many businesses and employees to attend during their lunch hour. Tickets for the luncheon may be purchased for $15 per person in the City of Wilson’s Human Relations Office, located at 104 Goldsboro St., city hall. This event is open to the public. Seating is limited and tickets do sell out fast.

Observed in October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month is a nationwide campaign celebrating the skills and talents workers with disabilities bring to the workplaces.

For more information about the Wilson Committee for Persons with Disabilities, nominations or the awards luncheon, contact the City of Wilson’s Human Relations Office by calling 399-2308.