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Labor and Economic Opportunity

Recognizing abilities: customers, businesses and partners received Michigan Rehabilitation Services Champion Awards

Friday, Oct. 8, 2021
Media Contact: Elyse Walter, 517- 449-9731

LANSING, Mich. - Eleven individuals and organizations were recognized during yesterday's 13th annual Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) Champion Awards ceremony. Champion Awards recipients show the resilience and employable skills and talents of Michiganders with disabilities. They each personify the best of what is possible when championing a diverse and inclusive workforce.

The virtual event on Thursday was part of Investing in Abilities Month in October, as proclaimed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to encourage employers to hire qualified people with disabilities while focusing on their abilities.

MRS, within the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity's Office of Employment and Training, collaborated with the Michigan Council for Rehabilitation Services to recognize employers, partners and customers.

MRS staff from around the state nominated champion candidates within several categories. The awards went to:

Customers (including youth) who are motivated and committed to finding and keeping jobs:

  • Dr. Oluwaferanmi Okanlami of Ann Arbor who has worked with MRS to solve accessible transportation issues for not only himself, but others.
  • Hunter Flower of Escanaba who received Pre-Employment Transition Services and is the first Deaf student in Midwest Truck Driving School history and only the second in Michigan to be licensed as a Class A CDL Professional Driver.
  • Matthew Krol of Howell who completed the Industrial Electronics program at the Michigan Career and Technical Institute and now works at White's Zero Electric.
  • Zachary Markcum of Kalkaska who completed the Pharmacy Technical program at the Michigan Career and Technical Institute and now works at Walgreens.
  • Business partners from large businesses that are working in innovative ways with MRS and its customers:
  • Portillo's of Sterling Heights
  • Wesco of Muskegon
  • Business partners from small businesses that are working in innovative ways with MRS and its customers:
  • JAC Custom Pouches of Dowagiac
  • Precision Service Group, LLC of Ferndale
  • Community partners who have demonstrated a strong commitment to empowering individuals with disabilities to take charge of their futures:
  • Barry Eaton District Health Department of Charlotte
  • WorkSolved of Grand Rapids
  • Statewide Community Partner who has demonstrated a strong commitment to empower individuals with disabilities to take charge of their futures:
  • Dr. Sri Narayanan of East Lansing
     
MRS assists persons with disabilities to achieve competitive employment and self-sufficiency. For more information on Michigan Rehabilitation Services, visit Michigan.gov/MRS.