Mayor Thomas M. McDermott, Jr. announces the 2017 award winners at the Mayor's Commission on Disabilities 31st Annual Awards Breakfast and Resource Fair which took place this morning at the Dynasty Banquet Hall.
Awards are presented in seven categories: 1) Business Award; 2) Individual Adult Volunteer Award; 3) Individual Adult Award; 4) Youth Volunteer; 5) Youth; 6) Caregiver Award; and, 7) Charles Nagy Junior Award.
The 2017 Awards winners are: Youth Volunteer - Erin Plenus. Erin is a high school student that volunteers every week at the Down Syndrome Association to help those with special needs. She tutors in math and reading. She is always one of the first volunteers to call and see if help is needed for social and educational events. She is patient, enthusiastic and a dependable volunteer. Erin is always on time and has a smile on her face. She goes out of her way to make those with disabilities feel accepted and included. She sees their similarities! She is a gem in our community and definitely someone that is making a big difference!
Youth - Jake Kelley also known as "The Fire Breathing Dragon" to his Special Olympic powerlifting friends. Jake is employed at World Gym and the Boys and Girls Club where he performs janitorial duties. He is a hard worker and very helpful and independent. Jake is on the bowling, weight lifting, basketball, baseball and golf teams. He is active in fundraising for Special Olympics and the Down Syndrome Association of Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland. Jake is someone who has so many abilities. Do not underestimate him. He is definitely someone in our community that you should know!
Individual Adult Volunteer - Tami Aldrin for her tireless work with Special Needs dance students. Tami has been an owner and instructor for many years at the Dance Connection. She is someone who is deeply committed to the inclusion, acceptance and promotion of children and adults with special needs through dance. Her dedication for sharing her love of dance with those with disabilities extends beyond her time at the Dance Connection. She volunteers many hours, without hesitation, whenever a request arises for her students to be involved in community activities. Tami has touched the hearts of many and continues to inspire those that have pleasure of knowing her.
Individual Adult - Charmanika Mosley, Director of Special Education for HAST. She coordinates all speech services, curriculum development, response to intervention services and progress monitoring as the sole person directing all of the special educations services. She has implemented HAST Hero's, HAST Reading and Math Scholars, JUMP, and ICE Programs for students with social and emotional issues. Charmanika is very passionate and extremely dedicated to helping students with special needs.
Business — Hammond & Whiting YMCA's. School City of Hammond students with substantial disabilities have been embraced, encouraged, and provided opportunities at no cost and included in all programs that the Hammond and Whiting YMCA's offer. The students are invited to become active participants in all of the various classes offered. Both YMCA's provide inclusive community participation at all levels and their mission, vision, and values are enriching the lives of the students on a daily basis. YMCA team members — Jimmy Gonzalez, Dave Mays, Tabitha Garcia, Lynette McDermott, Debbie Harvey, Tamely Hardy, Roman and Lucy Kiszenia, Vicky Rakich, Aida Santiago, Noel Henrich, and Lisa Tavarez.
Caregiver — Gail Stewart. The Caregiver Award goes to an individual who demonstrates outstanding compassion and abilities in one-on-one caregiving for a friend or family member living with a disability. They frequently make great personal sacrifices to provide care for their loved ones, sometimes to the detriment of their own health and well-being. Gail Stewart is the mother of 3. When Gail's father showed early signs of dementia she quit working to be a full time caregiver for him. Gail makes all of her father's doctor appointments and often stays over night with him in the hospital. Gail continually shows outstanding compassion while caring for her father.
Charles Nagy, Jr. Award - Andrea "Princess" Reddix - In recognition of her spirit and determination in overcoming obstacles to lead a productive life in service to others. Andrea's father, mother, and brother were all diagnosed with cancer. Andrea cared for her brother King John, II until he passed away at the age of 18. Andrea would pull double duty as sole caregiver to her father and mother while they were both very sick. Pastor Andrews passed away in 2013. Since his passing, Andrea has stayed by her mother, Handmaiden Daisy Andrews, side caring for her every day. Andrea has suspended her life, aspirations, and relationships all to care for her little brother, her father, and mother.
"I congratulate all the awards recipients," stated Mayor McDermott. "They are extraordinary individuals bringing compassion and commitment to our community."