Congratulations to the 2015 Celebration of Excellence Awards Recipients

The Arc of Howard County
2015 Celebration of Excellence Awards
May 13, 2015
The Gathering Place, Columbia

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 individuals we serve. Celebrating 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 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

Congratulations to the 2015 Celebration of Excellence Award Winners!

 2015 Self-Advocates of the Year:  Presented to people who have made significant progress in meeting their own goals in their personal or professional life.

Rose Daniello – in honor of her progress personally and professionally. This past year has been one of challenges and accomplishment for Rose.  She suffered the loss of her father after a long illness. In response, Rose and her sister, Edie, have become more independent and responsible, and Rose is now able to be home alone for the first time. She is involved in many activities such as swimming, basketball and attending dances.  Rose also has made great strides in a job she enjoys.  Working two days a week at Little Lighthouse Child Care, Rose takes pride in completing her tasks and enjoying her time reading to the children.

Rachel Kalatzis – in honor of her increased overall dependence.  Rachel is able to administer and chart her medications without staff assistance. Rachel has also improved her cooking skills, adding different seasonings to improve the flavor. She now schedules her own medical appointments and transportation. In addition, Rachel has learned to utilize her circle of support more effectively, consulting her staff with an issue or problem.

Doreen Shing – in honor of her growth as a self-advocate and spokesperson for others. Doreen is an optimistic, assertive and lively young woman. She is Vice President of People Power, The Arc’s self-advocacy group, and represented The Arc of Howard County at the annual convention. Doreen testified before the Maryland Legislature, calling for more funding for members of the disabled community, and looks forward to more opportunities for self-advocacy.

Scott Widitz – in honor of his personal growth and willingness to help othersScott has experienced accomplishments in many areas of his life.  He has moved out of his family home and in with housemates and staff.  He helps with grocery shopping and household chores, and enjoys an active social life, participating in bowling, Special Olympics, “No Boundaries” musical theatre and community dances. He will be going on a vacation this summer for the first time without his parents. In addition, Scott has worked for 16 years as an assembler at Omnicare, where he is a respected team member who goes out of his way to mentor individuals when they join the team.

2015 Excellence in Employment Award – Dana Shoubaji of Little Lighthouse Child Care
For providing a supportive environment for professional growth.  Dana has created a work environment of inclusion where people with disabilities are welcome and where they can grow into valuable employees given the time and support they need.  Dana overlooked a lack of experience in favor of accentuating the the positive and encouraging development on the job.

2015 Excellence in Employment Award – Omnicare Inc.
For living up to their care values of excellence, integrity, service and compassion. Omnicare has been using services provided The Arc of Howard County for over 16 years.  What distinguishes Omnicare as a workplace is the attention to breaking down jobs into tasks to match the skill levels and abilities of the employees with disabilities, who work alongside their more typical peers, and for including everyone in company events.

2015 Excellence in Community AwardCherise Petty, Howard County Public Schools academic Life Skills Special Educator
For her generosity and commitment.  Cherise has been facilitating a Women’s Relationship Group for young women supported by The Arc since 2006.  Cherise’s goal is to promote open discussions on relationship issues and concerns in a safe and candid environment, where young women can talk about choices that are often uncomfortable for them to talk about with their parents or guardians.  She has done this with warmth and dedication.

2015 Excellence in Community AwardCharles Heron, Friend and Supporter
For his kindness and open-heartedness.  Charlie started out as Robert Bussard’s Case Manager, and it developed into a great friendship that spans 21 years.  Charlie plays an important role in Robert’s life, helping him make budgeting and household decisions as well as organizing Robert’s annual vacation to Ocean City.  Most recently Charlie helped locate the cemetery where Robert’s parents and grandparents are buried, helping fulfill one of Robert’s dreams.

2015 Excellence in Community AwardSocialites Bowling League, with special thanks to Team Captain Robert Parcells.
For embodying the spirit of inclusion.This is a 15-team league that bowls every Tuesday night at Brunswick Columbia Lanes.  One of those teams includes two men with developmental disabilities, both enthusiastic bowlers.  The Socialites Bowling League has embraced these bowlers, encouraging them as they bowl and developing friendships that have brought great pleasure to many people.  The men are included in all league activities.

2015 Excellence in Professional Services Award – Russell Laurenzano, owner of the Knights Inn, Ocean City, MD.
For going above and beyond what we know as “customer service”.  Each summer Robert Bussard stays at the Knights Inn for his vacation. Russell is the man on the other end of Robert’s bus ride to Ocean City. He picks Robert up at the Greyhound Station, drives him to the hotel, manages his budget and daily spending allowance, and reminds Robert to take his medication on schedule. He makes sure Robert is safe until he drives him back to the bus station at the end of the vacation.

2015 Excellence in Professional Services Award – Brunswick Columbia Lanes
For providing services to individuals with disabilities with compassion and dignity.  Housemates Michael Morgan and William Reed were disappointed with they didn’t make it on the Special Olympics bowling team because they love to bowl.  Brunswick Columbia Lanes encouraged them to sign up to play on a team in a community league.  The joined the Gutter Bandits and bowl every Tuesday night.

2015 Excellence in Schools Award – Monica Pringle, Bus Area Manager for the Howard County Public School System’s Department of Pupil Transportation.
For her positive and collaborative approach to serving all students. Education for students with disabilities often goes beyond the doors of the schoolhouse.Monica is noted for her creativity in supporting students seeking learning opportunities outside of the classroom. Here whole-hearted commitment to Project SEARCH and its internship placements was expressed in her statement: “Why would we let transportation stand in the way of a student and a meaningful work experience.  We can work it out.”

2015 Excellence in Public Service Award – Brian Frazee, Director of Public Policy for the Maryland Association of Community Services (MACS).
For his dedication and hard work and the resulting funding and policy victories.  Brian has completed four legislative sessions working to strengthen agencies to better support people with developmental disabilities and their families in their own communities.  Last year, Brian’s passion, intellect, and commitment helped lead the effort to pass ground-breaking legislation that ensured that funding for direct support staff would keep pace with increases in the minimum wage.  During the most recent session, Brian worked tirelessly to ensure that the mandate passed in 2014 remained intact.

2015 Excellence in Public Service Award – Judy Grusso, Executive Director of the Howard County Autism Society.
For her collaborative leadership.  Under Judy’s leadership, the Autism Society has increased its partnerships with like organizations, most notably with The Arc of Howard County, allowing both organizations to more efficiently support and advocate for those with developmental disabilities in Howard County.  We are especially grateful for Judy’s involvement as a volunteer – she participates on both The Arc‘s Education Advisory Committee and The Arc’s Governmental Affairs Committee and is a leader in the Project SEARCH program.

 2015 Volunteer of the Year – Vince Grauso
Vince has been an active volunteer for over a dozen years, starting with a Knights of Columbus effort to build an extraordinary playground for The Arc’s respite care program.  He helped raise the funds, and then led the Knights in installing the equipment.  He went on to serve on the The Arc Board of Directors for eight years. He has served as Chair of the Monitoring and Advisory Committee since 2007, ensuring high quality services.

2015 Employee of the Year – Robert Kress
Bob has a great attitude and commitment to excellence.  He is Team Lead in the Day Program and has been with The Arc since March 2013. In addition to his responsibilities as Team Lead, he also helps out by attending IP meetings, communicating with families, reconciling the Day Program petty cash and assisting with vehicle inspections. His friendliness and willingness to jump in where help is needed makes him a great team player. Always striving for a better department, Bob has also been working with staff to solve problems together as issues arise. Says Bob about his work with the Day Program, “The philosophy of The Arc is something we should hold to. We’re here for the folks. I love them all.”

2015 Legacy Award & President’s Award – Carol Beatty, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Disabilities
Carol Beatty has been Howard County’s foremost leader in advancing the human rights and expanding the opportunities of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As an advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, she has been a catalyst for changes in government policy and practice with far-reaching consequences for those with developmental disabilities and for other often overlooked constituencies. By respecting the choices of people with developmental disabilities, she helped set a standard for any organizations seeking to empower its constituencies. As a visionary leader, she has directed ground-breaking programs and projects that have led to successful inclusion of people with disabilities in every aspect of community life.

Prior to being appointed by Governor Hogan to be Secretary of the Maryland Department of Disabilities earlier this year, Carol was the Executive Director of The Arc of Howard County from 1993-2015.  She fully embraces The Arc’s mission of achieving full community life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Her leadership and action have improved the lives of all Howard Countians.