On Thursday, June 8, the San Diego Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) held its annual awards luncheon at the Marriot Courtyard in Liberty Station to recognize consumers, employers and community agencies of excellence.
Employers honored were O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, TJ Maxx — Costa Mesa, Boys & Girls of Vista and SPAWAR. Community partners honored were Sweetwater Transition Partnership Program (TPP), San Diego Unified School District TPP, Job Options and Grossmont TPP.
The keynote speaker this year was Chris Gallagher, a former sixth-grade teacher who was born without the use of his arms due to a rare birth defect. Gallagher, who won Teacher of the Year in San Juan Capistrano in 2004, has been profiled on Good Morning America and appeared as a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show, The John Walsh Show and PBS’s Life and Times show in 2003. He spoke about overcoming his disability at the luncheon.
SDWP works with DOR in a number of collaborative efforts. Program Specialist Mario Becerra leads the Work Well Initiative, while SDWP’s CONNECT2Careers Training Specialist Taryell Simmons has worked with students with disabilities at Sweetwater Union School District through a collaboration with DOR.
Carmencita Trapse, Regional Administrator of the Department of Rehabilitation and member of the Workforce Development Board, took the opportunity to acknowledge SDWP and Becerra’s efforts onstage during her remarks, praising his leadership and hard work on the Work Well Initiative.
It is highly valuable for SDWP staff to make connections with other community stakeholders at events like this. “It was great meeting peers and colleagues at the event especially through Virginia Guerra [of DOR] and Carmencita Trapse,” Becerra said.
Scott Jaeger, chair of the event planning committee and staff services manager for DOR’s San Diego office, echoed those sentiments. “It was a wonderful expression of the relationships and cooperative efforts among many of our community partners that help to serve individuals with disabilities.”