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BAY PINES, FL – The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System will receive a state-level award for its commitment to hiring people with disabilities during a Disability Employment Awareness Celebration on Oct. 31. The event will be held at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront Hotel located at 333 1st Street South, St. Petersburg, Fla. from 8:30-10:00 a.m. The celebration is being held in conjunction with National Disability Employment Awareness Month which is recognized during the month of October.

The event will be hosted by Vocational Rehabilitation (VR); a statewide program under the Florida Department of Education that assists people with disabilities with training, medical treatment, accommodations, and other services so they may become or remain employed. VR has helped more than 6,000 Floridians find or keep their jobs last year and has 80 offices across Florida. In total, VR will award five local businesses during the celebration on Oct. 31.

The Bay Pines VA was nominated for the award by Placement Works Inc.; a non-profit job placement organization that works directly with Vocational Rehab to place individuals with disabilities. “When an employer goes out of their way to hire and accommodate individuals with disabilities, they deserve to be recognized,” said Christy Boccabella-Brown, president and founder of Placement Works Inc. In Brown’s official nomination application to VR, she made special mention of The VA textile in laundry facility for their strong support and commitment to hiring people with disabilities. A “family-like and caring environment” are just some of the words used to describe the laundry operation in the award application.

Ron Krohn, a laundry foreman at the Bay Pines VA, works directly with two of the employees who found jobs at the facility because of the VR program and PlacementWorks. According the Krohn, his goal is to ensure all employees, regardless of condition, have the opportunity to grow and succeed.

“The bottom line is that everyone is part of the team, and everyone can contribute to the mission regardless of physical or mental condition,” Krohn said. “As Henry Ford once said –‘if everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.’ That is our approach here at the laundry plant and Bay Pines.”

Currently, the Bay Pines VA employs about 410 individuals with disabilities – a number that continues to grow each year.

“Our hiring practice at Bay Pines VA is to find and select the most highly skilled and competent employees available,” said Suzanne M. Klinker, Director, Bay Pines VA. “Many of our most dedicated, talented and skilled employees have disabilities. Their commitment to the VA mission and to our Veterans is unwavering – we are honored that they are part of the Bay Pines family.”

The Disability Employment Awareness Celebration is free and open to the public. For questions about the event, please call (850) 245-3415.