PAR Awards Presented
Awards were presented at the annual PAR Conference in October to recognize the achievements of those who have enhanced community inclusion and the quality of life for persons with disabilities.
Robert Will, chief operating officer at the Barber National Institute, received the Advocate of the Year Award.
Violetta Galustyan, a program specialist in the Supported Employment Program, was named the Front Line Manager of the Year for her efforts assisting adults with disabilities find employment. An employee of the Barber National Institute for 23 years, Violetta is known for her leadership in establishing successful partnerships with all stakeholders, including OVR counselors, supports coordinators, employers and families.
She was also integral in developing new opportunities for helping high school students prepare to transition to employment, including an innovative Transportation Assessment for youth with disabilities. She is known for her excellent communication skills and commitment to focusing on each individual and spending countless hours to ensure that every adult receives the individualized attention to reach their employment goals.
Katrice Fischer received the award for Self-Advocate of the year. Hard working, dedicated, passionate, smart, kind and friendly, Katrice is also a leader and a role model to many consumers in our programs. Katrice is a very independent person who, like many, has had to overcome some very difficult situations in her life.
Katrice is very vocal about what she wants for herself and the sky is the limit for the dreams that she wants to achieve. After many years of effort, Katrice moved from Lifesharing to supported living to now living independently in her own apartment.
After building skills in our workshop, Katrice worked with Supported Employment to get hired in her first job. After a few years, she decided to enlist Supported Employment in a search for a new job. Soon, she was hired at the Erie Insurance Arena, a job where she is appreciated, happy and accepted as the hard working woman that she is.
The LECOM Medical Fitness & Wellness Center was recognized as the Employer of the Year for going the extra mile in welcoming adults with disabilities into its workforce. LECOM has treated consumers and Barber staff with the upmost respect and has been welcoming and shown equality to all.
Since Barber began working with the LECOM two years ago, the Erie organization has hired three individuals and made great efforts to ensure that the adults feel appreciated and part of the team. The individuals are all very happy with their jobs and feel that the environment is friendly and comfortable. LECOM has provided a tremendous amount of support to the individuals, and has ensured very open communication between the Supported Employment staff and the LECOM supervisors. The organization has most definitely gone above and beyond to not only assist people in achieving their dreams of community employment, but has done it in a way that should make everyone in our community proud.