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2016 Celebration of Excellence Awards and

Volunteer Appreciation Event

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Gathering Place in Clarksville

The Celebration of Excellence Awards is when we say “Thank You” to all those in the community who contribute to The Arc in ways that make a powerful impact on the lives of the individuals we serve.  We celebrate the self-advocates, businesses, professionals, educators, volunteers and other community members who help support The Arc in its mission of “achieving full community life for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities – one person at a time.”

Congratulations to the 2016 Celebration of Excellence Award Winners!

2016 President’s Award was presented to County Executive Allan Kittleman for his groundbreaking leadership on behalf of individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. Allan understands the importance of an inclusive and diverse community and is willing to lead by example.  He has embraced Project SEARCH and has helped our agency and our partners graduate two classes of transitioning youth who have benefited from the experience of working alongside county employees in a wide variety of departments. The third Project SEARCH class will convene in August. County Executive Allan Kittleman has not only promoted Project SEARCH within county government, but has also used the State of the County address and other occasions to encourage all businesses in Howard County to consider the benefits of employing and supporting people with disabilities.


2016 Excellence in Employment Award was presented to Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Steve Sheppard of Giant Food and Ourisman Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep & Ram of Clarksville.

Our first awardee is Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab. Self-advocate Hannah Saltzman works as an administrative assistant at APL.  She is provided with the best technology and is a mentee of Patty Higgs who is helping her learn new tasks and models the duties of the position. Hannah is included in staff meetings, planning sessions and office parties.  APL’s EEO Specialist and Diversity Officer, Amit Patel, involved Hannah in interviews and skill assessments that showed her fitness for the position and her job has been enhanced to reflect her mastery of new work tasks. APL is helping to create a cultural shift by acknowledging that people with developmental disabilities can do so much more than might be expected.

Our second awardee is Steve Sheppard of Giant Food for providing a supportive environment for individuals with developmental disabilities. Steve employs two individuals served by The Arc and they are fortunate in having him as an advocate.  He helps his employees achieve their goals while treating them in a kind and compassionate manner, helping them when they encounter a difficulty. Steve is a man of integrity and values and has earned the respect of those who work with him.

Our third awardee is Ourisman Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep & Ram of Clarksville for creating an opportunity for a person with disabilities to succeed in a rewarding and challenging position. The Arc is indeed fortunate in its relationship with Ourisman Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep & Ram of Clarksville.  The company embraces the opportunity to have an inclusive work force.  General Manager Levi Haslup, Service Manager Mike Catron and Parts Manager Sid Glover identified a position that could be ably met by an individual with development disabilities.  They wanted someone with an upbeat personality and customer centric attitude to greet customers and direct them to their destination, as well as prepare their vehicles for servicing and maintain the cleanliness of the service drive-thru.  With slight modifications, they found that person in David Gold.


2016 Excellence in Community Award was presented to Jodie Gil of Patrick’s Hair Design and The Aesthetic Center of Columbia, Jeannette Kendall of Success in Style, and Bon Secours Health System, Inc.

Our first awardee is Jodie Gil, owner of Patrick’s Hair Salon & The Aesthetic Center of Columbia for her generosity, resourcefulness and commitment.  Jodie is a former board and committee member, donor and employer partner.  She has also created a fundraiser, Cuts and Cocktails, which she hosts at her salon as a benefit for The Arc.  Jodie’s staff members donate their time to provide hair and skin services to their regular clients and other members of the community.  There are appetizers, wine and a raffle.  All the proceeds come to The Arc.

Another outstanding woman leader who has had a positive impact on The Arc is Jeannette Kendall, President and CEO of Success in Style for providing a volunteer opportunity to people served by The Arc.  This Howard County non-profit helps men and women in crisis become employed and self-sufficient by assisting them with their appearance, clothing and interview skills. For the past five years, Jeannette has welcomed people from The Arc of Howard County Day program, providing them the opportunity to volunteer to help others in need.

Our third awardee is Bon Secours Health System for maintaining a dependable commitment to The Arc and to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Arc of Howard County has been made the beneficiary of its annual Day of Caring efforts since 2008. Bon Secours volunteers have worked on a dozen of The Arc homes which include painting, landscaping and power washing ramps, railings, decks and porches.  This saves The Arc several thousand dollars a year and allows The Arc to get large projects done in a day, minimizing inconvenience to residents and staff.


2016 Excellence in Professional Services Award was presented to Chantelle Taylor, an Independent Licensed Clinician who has consulted with The Arc for the past four years. Chantelle is the one staff members turn to when they need help supporting someone with a “challenging” behavior.  She helps create a Behavior Support Plan with family and friends to assist staff. She works closely with the person who will benefit from the plan and helps train staff who are grateful to have such a talented person on the team.


2016 Excellence in Schools Award was presented to Timothy Williamson of Patuxent Valley Middle School for his many kindnesses to children in the community. Timothy is a man with a huge heart who works with children with learning disabilities at Patuxent Valley Middle School.  He is a caring teacher who goes out of his way to interact with children that have autism and other learning disabilities.


2016 Excellence in Public Service Award was presented to Vanessa Brown of the Howard County Government Office of Central Fleet for going above and beyond her job responsibilities. Vanessa provides administrative support for the Howard County Government Office of Central Fleet.  She is an integral part of making Project SEARCH such a successful internship program for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  In addition, Central Fleet is an internship site itself, and Vanessa can always be counted on to find meaningful work and an office space for interns who are being prepared for paid employment in the future. She is committed to the interns’ successes, as well as the program’s success.


2016 Self-Advocate of the Year Award was presented to Alex Barnes, Hannah Saltzman, Geoffrey Savage, and Bonnie Block. These four individuals have made tremendous progress in their personal and professional lives in the past year.

Our first awardee is Alex Barnes for his leadership and independence. For many years, Alex has been a leader, advocating on behalf of individuals with disabilities.  He testifies before the Maryland State Legislature and serves on the Board of Directors of both The Arc of Howard County and The Arc of Maryland.  He is the President of People Power, a self-advocacy group.  Alex has also worked very hard at becoming more independent. One of his major accomplishments has been obtaining his driver’s license.  He also has a part-time job at Wegmans, participates and volunteers at Special Olympics, takes classes at Howard Community College, and plays the saxophone at special events.

The second awardee is Hannah Saltzman for her determination to achieve her goals. Hannah is a positive, upbeat and energetic person who is working to attain her goal of increasing independence. Like many of her typical peers, she took on volunteer jobs to learn new skills that prepared her for a paid Administrative Assistant position at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. She also works as a Courtesy Clerk for Giant of Clarksville. Hannah is in the process of studying for her driver’s permit to further increase her independence.

Our third awardee is Geoff Savage for his continued personal growth and increasing independence. Geoff is another person who is making strides in increasing his independence.  He lives on his own, maintaining his apartment, cooking and shopping with minimal assistance.  He has learned to budget his money which he earns as a member of a custodial crew at Goddard Space Center for the past 15 years.  Geoff attends classes at Howard Community College, swims, and takes buses and cabs to the gym and bowling alley.   He has made new friends this past year and does sky watching with a friend who also likes telescopes.  He also attends sporting events with his friends.  Geoff is head usher at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Oakland Mills. He is also a treasurer of People Power and represented The Arc of Howard County at The Arc of the US Convention in Indianapolis.

Our final Self-Advocate of the Year awardee is Bonnie Block for accomplishing her heart’s desire. Bonnie has accomplished something many people dream about: she has recorded a CD featuring her singing some of her favorite songs.  Bonnie takes weekly voice lessons, and her music teacher, Rita Mayhew of Howard Community College, helped her select and practice the songs. Entitled Bonnie Block, Songs from the Heart, the CD includes Bette Midler’s “The Rose,” Petula Clarke’s “Downtown” and the classic “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”  She also continues to sing in her church choir at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Wilde Lake and is performing in the No Boundaries production of “Lion King” this month.


2016 Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Mike Lewis.  Mike is a multi-faceted volunteer. He is a member of The Arc’s Board of Directors, a member of both the Resource Development and Employment Advisory committees, chairs the annual golf tournament and serves as a monitor for the Quality Assurance Department. Mike is also an employer partner, donor and sponsor of the Chocolate Ball. Mike’s strong commitment on behalf of The Arc and the people we support helps us succeed in many ways. He really throws his “heart” into whatever task he takes on, and that “heart” has earned him this award.


2016 Employee of the Year was presented to Adekunle Agbede.  Adekunle has been working with The Arc since 2007 when he was hired as a Weekend Counselor.  He enjoys supporting Allen, Charles, Lawrence and Richard in their day-to-day lives, but gets the most satisfaction by helping them explore new adventures in their community such as golf and art exhibits.  He is a respectful, humble and kind person who is always willing to lend a helping hand.  In March, however, a great deal more was required.  One of the people served by The Arc was found unresponsive, and the staff began to perform CPR while 911 was on the way.  The happy outcome is that the individual was revived by the time the emergency team arrived at the home.  For retaining his calm composure and devoting his attention to taking care of a person in distress during a stressful situation, we present him with this award.


Congratulations everyone!


Everyone deserves to live the fullest life they can. Of all the board’s achievements, that’s the one that makes me proudest.”

— Robert Vigorito, Former Board Member, The Arc of Howard County