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Laura Phillips
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Miami-Dade Parks receives state's "Exceptional Employer" award

MIAMI (October 19, 2015)

The Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open  Spaces Department is among eight Florida businesses receiving the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s annual “Exceptional Employer” award for companies demonstrating an outstanding commitment to hiring and retaining people with disabilities, as part of their workforce. The 2015 awards were presented by representatives from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), Blind Services, and Vocational Rehabilitation in Tallahassee City Hall this month, as part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Through a partnership with APD, Miami-Dade Parks Disability Services implemented an internship program this past year, aimed at helping high school students and young adults with intellectual disabilities become more independent and smoothly transition into the real world after graduation. It resulted in gainful employment for several program participants.

“We are proud to see our Parks Department receive this prestigious recognition and appreciate their continued commitment to providing outstanding services and workforce opportunities for residents with disabilities in this community,”said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. “I challenge other employers to follow such exemplary practices.” 

"Individuals with disabilities add to the rich diversity and inclusiveness of our Parks Department staff.  Providing appropriate supports for these employees when necessary, allows them to bring their unique talents and abilities to the workplace,” said Lucy Binhack, Manager, Miami-Dade Parks Disability Services.

Also receiving Exceptional Employer awards were Kilwins Jacksonville; LEGOLAND Florida; Lowe’s Home Improvement; OfficeMax; Popeyes; 3 Daughters Brewing of St. Petersburg; and Winter Park Memorial Hospital.

Described as the nation's most overlooked resource, people with disabilities are a population that includes war-wounded veterans as well as people with physical, cognitive and behavioral challenges. 

APD Director Barbara Palmer said of the award:  “We are so pleased to be honoring these outstanding businesses. These deserving businesses need to be recognized for making the commitment to employ a diverse workforce. These company leaders know that individuals with disabilities are some of the most dedicated employees any business could hire.”

“DEO is committed to making Florida the best state in the nation for every person to get a fulfilling job. Individuals with disabilities deserve the opportunity to benefit from the inherit dignity of work. Employers who provide these opportunities find hardworking, loyal, and talented employees. We encourage every employer to make this a priority,” said Jesse Panuccio, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. 

Director of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Aleisa McKinlay said, “We are proud to honor these employers today because of their willingness to hire people with disabilities and give them the chance to be the wonderful employees we know them to be. We can’t do our job without our community partners – large and small businesses making Florida’s economy strong.”

Miami-Dade Parks is a world-class parks system supported by the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade and focused on Placemaking, Health and Fitness, and Conservation and Stewardship.