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Employment and independence achievements celebrated by BSBP
October 17, 2022
LANSING, Mich. — Eighteen individuals and organizations were recognized during Friday's Excellence Awards ceremony, presented annually by the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons (BSBP). These awards recognize individuals who achieved their goals for employment or independent living after vision loss, as well as organizations who represent the values of National Disability Employment Awareness Month and BSBP’s core values of inclusion and diversity.
BSBP, housed within the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), recognized customers of vocational rehabilitation and independent living services, students receiving Pre-Employment Transition Services, and business and community partners during the virtual event.
“We are proud of the tremendous accomplishments and contributions made by the hardworking individuals and organizations to achieve employment goals and independent living after experiencing vision loss,” said LEO Director Susan Corbin. “Vocational rehabilitation plays a critical role in our continuous efforts to close equity gaps and remove barriers to employment so that all Michiganders have the educational and economic means to reach their full potential.”
Nominations for Excellence Award candidates came from BSBP staff from around the state. Recipients benefitted from the many quality services provided by BSBP staff and opportunities offered by business and community partners.
This year’s recipients included:
Vocational Rehabilitation Customers
- Ichard Oden – Taylor
- Nick Vanderwall – Wyoming
- Munzer Abu-Kharsa – Dearborn Heights
- Donna Dean – Brighton
- Traci Karsies – Holland
- Greg Butler – Detroit
Pre-Employment Transition Services Customers
- Alyssa Groenveld – Byron Center
- Nicole Grimmett – Bloomfield Hills
BSBP Training Center
- Ernesto Rivera – Portage
Independent Living Customers
- Laurie Brake – Walled Lake
- Jean Reynolds Provencal – Grand Haven
- Gary Compau – Frankenmuth
- Amazon – Livonia
- Orchard Hill Christian Preschool & Childcare – Grand Rapids
- Schain Mold & Engineering – Rochester Hills
- Maris Lazich – Plymouth
- Highfields Inc. – Onondaga
- Disability Advocates of Kent County – Grand Rapids
“Every one of the recipients should be tremendously proud of their achievements. Their demonstrated excellence in achieving personal and professional goals is an example of what can be accomplished by individuals who are blind and visually impaired,” said BSBP Director William Robinson. “I am also thankful and proud of our BSBP team members who provide meaningful services to our customers as well as the partnerships with community organizations. Business also plays a big role, opening the doors to inclusivity by looking beyond disability and focusing on a person’s talents and skills.”
BSBP provides training and services that empower people with vision loss to achieve their individual independence or employment goals. BSBP also helps businesses recruit and attract qualified employees as well as retain experienced employees after vision loss.
For more information on the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons, visit Michigan.gov/BSBP.
Vocational Rehabilitation, Pre-Employment Transition and Independent Living Older Blind Services are funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education. For federal Fiscal Year 2022, the total grant funds used for these services was expected to approximate $17.9 million for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), including $2.6 million of the VR grant reserved for Pre-Employment Transition Services and $988,000 for Independent Living for Older Blind Services.