The media is invited to attend the 9th Annual Mayor’s Awards, hosted by Mayor Helene Schneider. Keynote speaker Liz Pazdral is the Executive Director of the State Independent Living Council. Ms. Pazdral has devoted her career to working on employment issues for people with disabilities. The Mayor will present awards to local businesses for facilitating employment for individuals with disabilities.

The media may also interview this year’s Mayor’s Award recipients by telephone. Contact Heather Wennergren (805) 453-5543 to schedule.

WHAT:9th Annual Mayor’s Awards – Breakfast with the Mayor Honoring Businesses for Facilitating Employment for those with Disabilities

WHEN:Wednesday, October 9th at 7:30 AM

WHERE: Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center, 1118 E. Cabrillo Boulevard, SB

SPEAKERS: Mayor Helene Schneider

Liz Pazdral, Executive Director

State Independent Living Council

The Design/Accessibility Award will be presented to a person or entity that has developed innovative and creative solutions for accessible structures, buildings or services, or provided accommodations to create equal and aesthetic access. This year’s award goes to Lotusland for inclusive docent training and creativity in providing access to the garden. Gwen Stauffer, Executive Director and Dorothy Shaner, Director of Programs are accepting the award.

Ganna Walska Lotusland strives to provide access to a diverse population and enhance the community’s ability to experience this valuable horticultural resource, despite the fact that Lotusland must operate under a Santa Barbara County Conditional Use Permit that severely restricts the number of visitors to 20,000 people annually. Of that, Lotusland has dedicated 5,000 slots to school children in Kindergarten through 12th Grade, providing education programs at no cost to the students and the schools in Santa Barbara County, including its acclaimed Fourth-Grade Outreach Program which serves all 4th grade classes, including Title One schools, for free, in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpenteria. Lotusland also teams with Santa Barbara nonprofits to host free educational opportunities for children and underserved populations, and to provide free tours targeted specifically for community populations that otherwise would not be able to visit Lotusland because of their disabilities or income bracket. Lotusland has purposefully modified parts of the historic gardens to provide accessibility for anyone with a disability, and ensures a fulfilling experience for every visitor by conducting a rigorous docent training program that includes instruction for guiding family tours, people in wheelchairs, and those who may be slow-moving or vision impaired.

“We have worked to create access points so as many people as possible can experience the garden, not only as a source for inspiration, but an opportunity for learning.” ~ Gwen Stauffer

The Award for Outstanding Effort goes to a business that recognizes people with disabilities as valued community members. This year’s award goes to Metropolitan Theatres Corporation for their outlook on accessibility, close captioning and hiring practices. District Manager Kim Tucker is accepting the award.

Metropolitan Theaters Corporation, owned by the Corwin family since Joseph Corwin founded their fist theater in Los Angeles in 1923, operates a diverse collection of historic properties and state-of-the-art multiplexes among its 19 theatres. Metropolitan was among the few Spanish-language film distribution pioneers in the 1960s, with theaters currently in LA and Calexico, California. Long known for their civic, public and charitable projects, Metropolitan presents Corwin awards for music composition, screen and play writing, at the University of California, Santa Barbara, with continuing support for gifted music students through the Los Angeles Music Center Unified Fund, as well as innumerable benefit performances in Metropolitan’s theaters.

For Metropolitan, close captioning was simply a business decision. “We want to have opportunities for everyone” notes Kim Tucker, District Manager. Not only do they meet all guidelines for accessibility, they invite feedback from specific groups and follow up with testing. Metropolitan also hires people with disabilities which Ms. Tucker describes as “a positive experience for us.” One benefit for employees is free admission to shows when it is not too busy. Metropolitan employee Julia Riskin enjoys this opportunity several times a month. When asked about her job, she exclaims “I have seen some movies 20 times! Like Les Miserables and Titanic in 3D!” Metropolitan partners with non-profits including UCP, WORK, Inc. whose mission is to help people gain independence through employment. UCP, WORK, Inc. supported Mark MacLaren in his position at Paseo Nuevo Cinemas. Kim tucker describes his performance as “superb”.

”It was great to be able to enjoy a movie with my granddaughters. I hadn’t seen one since the 70’s.” ~ Nan Cisney

The Employment / Accommodation Award goes to an employer who reflects the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act in employment practices. This year’s award goes to Vons on Fairview for their long-term commitment to hiring people with disabilities. Patricia Manfredonia, Employment Representative and Aaron Berends, Manager are accepting the award on behalf of Vons.

Downtown Los Angeles was essentially a small town when Charles Von der Ahe opened his 20-foot wide Groceteria on the corner of 7th and Figueroa in 1906 with $1,200 in savings. It was a neighborhood store that catered to the needs of local families, where Von der Ahe pioneered “cash and carry” as an alternative to “charge and delivery”. After weathering the Depression, business resumed. Thanks to the introduction of pre-packaged perishables, they were able to offer some of the first self-service produce, meat and deli departments. This milestone marked the advent of the first true supermarkets as we know them today. Today the Vons operation, which includes Pavilions stores, is now a part of the Safeway family of companies. Vons stretches from San Diego to Fresno, from Clark County, Nevada to the Pacific. Its 276 stores serve millions of Southern Californians and Nevadans.

Vons believes in supporting their communities at a local level. The company and its employees raise millions of dollars annually for local charities, and contributed over 350,000 volunteer hours just last year. Our local Vons on Fairview is also invested in community. They have had a long standing history for employing people with disabilities. Carlos Illingworth, Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Vons, a Safeway Company stated, “as a neighborhood store, we want to represent all of the people in our neighborhood.” According to Mr. Illingworth, the people who shop at Vons like seeing people of all abilities hired, “shoppers appreciate the opportunities we provide, and our team works hard to make sure they are included.” In fact, around 8-13% of their general workforce represent people with disabilities. Mr. Illingworth describes them as reliable, long-term and having great attitudes, “these employees provide a unique contribution to our stores, and are often favored by our customers.”

The Non-Profit Award will be presented to an organization that embraces the spirit of inclusion and accessibility. This year’s award goes to the Montecito Family YMCA for hiring practices,

accessible programs and creating a culture of inclusion. Marty Cramer, Facilities Director, Margo Byrne, Chief Operating Officer and Michael Yamasaki, Branch Manager are accepting the award.

The Montecito Family YMCA has consistently hired people with disabilities over the years. According to Mr. Cramer, it continues to provide resources and opportunities to members and partner organizations that serve people with disabilities—effectively bringing meaningful change and ways that strengthen the community.

One of the partner organizations the Montecito Family YMCA works with is PathPoint, a local nonprofit that provides comprehensive training and support services that empower people with disabilities and disadvantages. Since 2005, the Montecito Family YMCA has employed PathPoint participants—helping them live and work independently as valued members of the Santa Barbara community. “PathPoint and the Montecito Family YMCA go hand in hand,” Mr. Cramer explains. “PathPoint’s philosophy celebrates the belief that all individuals, including those with disabilities and disadvantages, can achieve self-sufficiency and dignity if the proper supports are in place. We are extremely proud of our partnership with PathPoint which provides employment and socialization opportunities for their participants.” The YMCA also partners with notable organizations such as The Braille Institute, Cleveland School, Easy Lift, Alpha Resource Center, Food Bank, and most recently, the Livestrong Foundation.

As part of the global YMCA organization, the Montecito Family YMCA has been listening and responding to the community’s most critical social needs for more than 65 years. Whether providing employment opportunities to people with disabilities, developing skills or emotional well-being through education and training, welcoming and connecting diverse demographic populations through global services, or preventing chronic disease and building healthier communities through collaborations with policy makers, the YMCA fosters the care and respect all people need and deserve. The Montecito Family YMCA is honored to be chosen for this award and looks forward to continuing to meet the needs of the community.

Liz Pazdral, Executive Director of the California State Independent Living Council, has experienced the Independent Living (IL) movement from a variety of perspectives. Liz has been a consumer of services and has worked at IL Centers in California and Canada for 13 years, including serving in the capacity of executive director. Additionally, she worked in the IL Unit of the California Department of Rehabilitation. In the 1980’s, Liz started her disability rights career, which was featured in an Emmy Award winning documentary. In 1995, she testified before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Disability Policy on the employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Her career has emphasized disability rights issues, including employment, the ADA, earthquake response, and women’s health. Currently, she mentors a teenager with a disability and serves on the blue ribbon advisory committee for the Center for Personal Assistance Services at the University of California, San Francisco and on the Board of Directors for the California Alliance for Women. Liz lives near Sacramento with her husband and daughter.

This year’s event organizers include representatives from each of the following: City of Santa Barbara, Department of Rehabilitation, Santa Barbara Unified School District/Bridges Program, Santa Barbara City College, PathPoint, Tri-Counties Regional Center, UCP WORK, Inc., and Independent Living Resource Center.

Congress designated each October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). This effort to educate the American public about issues related to disability and employment began in 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to “National Disability Employment Awareness Month.”

Disability Mentoring Day (DMD) is a national program started in 1999 in the White House, as a program to increase the profile of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which is celebrated every October. The goal of this event is to promote career development for students and job seekers with disabilities through job shadowing and hands-on career exploration.


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