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Loveland Celebrates EmployAbilities

Loveland Center celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month

VENICE, Fla. — The Loveland Center (, a nonprofit that provides educational, vocational and residential services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, is celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month and recently held an event highlighting inclusive workplaces that partner with the nonprofit’s supported employment program, EmployAbilities.

The month-long observance celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities, businesses that employ those workers and seeks to educate others on the value of a diverse workforce inclusive of these skills and talents.

On October 4, Loveland Center’s staff, residents and students celebrated and recognized employers and employees throughout the community that have provided valuable employment opportunities. Attendees included grantors, such as the United Way of South Sarasota County and the Wilson-Wood Foundation, program participants, employer partners and community supporters.

“The mission of supported employment is often communicated as securing gainful, meaningful employment for job-seekers with disabilities, and that is indeed one of our goals,” said Mary Roberts, EmployAbilities program manager. ”But it is just as important to recognize that employer engagement is a huge factor in the employee’s success, and we are just as committed to our partnering employers.”

Sharky’s on the Pier received the Legacy Employer Award for partnering with Loveland Center for more than 20 years to build and maintain an inclusive workforce. Brew Burgers was recognized with a Rising Star Award for their commitment over the past year to providing employment opportunities to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Publix was also acknowledged as an inclusive workforce company along with its supportive local staff. Adam Bell, an employee at Goodwill Manasota, was recognized as the Star Employee of the Year for his hard work and dedication.

The EmployAbilities program, formerly known as Community Opportunities, provides the development of employment opportunities and ongoing support for individuals to ensure success on the job. Employment coaches work with Loveland Center students to make sure that the jobs are competitive and based on an individual’s preferences and abilities.

Three full-time staff members focus on highlighting individual talents, informing employers about the benefits of hiring adults with disabilities and securing employment opportunities within the community.

“We are grateful for our program staff as well as our many community partners,” said Daniela Koci, president and CEO of Loveland Center. “By working together to increase employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, we can empower employees and build a stronger, more inclusive community. We look forward to working with even more employers to increase opportunities!”