Grey skies and drizzling rain could not darken the bright smiles that filled Aberdeen Manor on Tuesday morning. Members of the community came forth in their spring best for Opportunity Enterprises’ annual Celebration of Achievement Awards. OE staff and participants mingled with community members over a lovely breakfast served by the Aberdeen Manor staff.
The Annual Celebration of Achievement serves to recognize businesses and community members who demonstrate commitment and loyalty to OE’s mission, as well as to celebrate the success of participants who have overcome adversity to achieve their goals.
OE serves 1,100 children and adults in the community who face the challenges posed by mental and physical disability, but the OE staff is quick to point out the large role the community plays in advancing the organization’s mission.
Opportunity Enterprises CEO David Stupay began the celebration with a warm welcome to the community followed by a moment of silence for OE participants who passed away in the last year.
Next, OE Director of Major Gifts Linda Hazen presented the Business of the Year award to Centier Bank for their outstanding commitment to OE’s mission.
“Centier has a rich history of community support and loyalty,” said Hazen “Centier continues to adhere to its values of integrity, respect, friendship, caring, and loyalty.”
Chris Campbell, Centier Vice President and Group Manager, humbly accepted the award.
The Community Employer of the Month award went to Metro Recycling for their commitment to providing community employment opportunities to OE’s JobSource participants and supporting the professional learning and development of those participants in their new work place.
Next, OE Fundraising Coordinator Liz Metts introduced Megan Musgrave as the winner of the Jeanne Baird Volunteer of the Year Award. Created in 2008, this award goes to a volunteer whose dedication and commitment inspire others to get involved.
“Megan always has a cheerful, upbeat personality and the kids love her positive attitude,” said Metts.
The Jessica Wolf Outstanding Direct Support Professional of the Year Award went to Chuck Blanchard for promoting goodwill and excellence and always leading by example. This award was established in honor of Jessica Wolf, an OE employee whose life was tragically cut short in a car accident. The award goes to an individual who helps Jessica’s spirit live on.
LaTosha Knight, OE’s Outsource Manager, introduced Blanchard as a positive role model and an exemplary OE direct support professional. “He is the first to encourage a participant to try something new, to take a chance and just go for it,” said Knight.
Blanchard, affectionately nicknamed OE’s energizer bunny, bounded up to the podium to accept the award, a large grin spreading across his face. “You don’t know what you do for someone by making them smile,” said Blanchard.
The JobSource Participant of the Year award went to Joseph Griffin for his achievement at work. Griffin works at McDonald’s and has excelled in positively impacting his coworkers and customers. Before entering the JobSource program, Griffin was shy and timid, reluctant to engage socially or professionally. But after deciding he wanted a job, Griffin worked tirelessly to hone his interview skills.
His hard work and determination paid off when he got the job – and his first paycheck. Griffin’s confidence grew. He began to engage in more community events and interact with others. He exceeded all expectations when he recently was placed in charge of training a new hire at McDonald’s.
Griffin could not attend the Celebration of Achievement awards in person, but even over video feed, his passion for others and contagious smile radiated throughout the room.
Lastly, the Participant of the Year Award went to Tony Singleton. Singleton rapidly lost his eyesight over the course of a few days, but he constantly works to overcome the challenges he faces. He has blossomed over the last year, learning to walk by himself and expanding his vocabulary.
His improvement is awe-inspiring. Now, Singleton is taking part in OE programming and learning to read Braille. He volunteers to pick up and donate food to shelters and other non-profits. Singleton is smart, determined, and very hard working – a combination that allows him to overcome any challenge he faces.
OE’s Celebration of Achievement brought together a wonderful mix of community members, local businesses, OE staff and participants to celebrate the good in our community. These success stories of people facing great adversity who overcome it with hard work and determination serve as inspiration to engage and give back.