Governor’s Committee Winners

The SC Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities works with mayors’ committees and state and local agencies to bring greater public awareness to the many talents and qualifications of workers with disabilities, as well as their positive impact on the workforce and our state’s economy.

Each year a number of South Carolina businesses are recognized for their exemplary practices in hiring people with disabilities and actively promoting disability awareness and workforce opportunities in the business community.

Small Employer of the Year Award

Berdina Hill (left), counselor with the SC Vocational Rehabilitation Department and representative of the Anderson Mayor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, presents the Small Employer Award to Linda Lavold and Vic Aviles of Dead Horse Productions.

Berdina Hill (left), counselor with the SC Vocational Rehabilitation Department and representative of the Anderson Mayor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, presents the Small Employer Award to Linda Lavold and Vic Aviles of Dead Horse Productions.

Dead Horse Productions in Anderson is one of two recipients of the 2017 Small Employer of the Year Award.

Through a partnership with the SC Vocational Rehabilitation Department’s (VR) Anderson office, Dead Horse Productions provided job shadowing opportunities to high school students with disabilities who expressed interest in video and film production services. The company has also been heavily involved in highly popular mentoring activities with hands-on demonstrations of production techniques. Dead Horse Productions hired one job shadow student into a position following graduation.

Dead Horse Productions was nominated by the Anderson Mayor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.

Esther Muñoz (left), counselor with the SC Vocational Rehabilitation Department and member of the Columbia Mayor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, presents the Small Employer Award to Charlie Weston, owner of Guardian Fence Suppliers.

Esther Muñoz (left), counselor with the SC Vocational Rehabilitation Department and member of the Columbia Mayor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, presents the Small Employer Award to Charlie Weston, owner of Guardian Fence Suppliers.

Guardian Fence Suppliers in Columbia is the second of two recipients of the 2017 Small Employer of the Year Award.

Following the very successful employment of an individual with a spinal cord injury through a partnership involving VR’s Richland office and SC Works, Guardian Fence Suppliers has been proactive in seeking additional employees with disabilities. Utilizing VR’s training services, the company has hired nine VR clients. Guardian Fence Suppliers has also actively participated in interviewing and hiring events, the Bounce Back initiative providing employment guidance for individuals with criminal backgrounds, and with VR’s Business Partnership Network.

Guardian Fence Suppliers was nominated by the Columbia Mayor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.

Medium Employer of the Year Award

Angel Jackson (right), store manager at BI-LO on North Main Street in Summerville, accepts the Medium Employer of the Year Award from Kelly Sieling of the Summerville Mayor’s Committee and the SC Vocational Rehabilitation Department’s Berkeley-Dorchester area office.

Angel Jackson (right), store manager at BI-LO on North Main Street in Summerville, accepts the Medium Employer of the Year Award from Kelly Sieling of the Summerville Mayor’s Committee and the SC Vocational Rehabilitation Department’s Berkeley-Dorchester area office.

BI-LO on North Main Street in Summerville received the 2017 Medium Employer of the Year Award.

BI-LO has regularly hired employees with disabilities over the past decade through its partnership with VR’s Berkeley-Dorchester office, including eight within the past year alone. VR provides pre-screened candidates, job accommodations, and when needed coaches to assist in on-site training. The store also provides trial work experiences for individuals with disabilities to determine if they are a good match. BI-LO has also provided job shadowing opportunities for high school students on Disability Mentoring Day, and has utilized job retention services when an employee’s job might be in jeopardy due to a disabling condition.

BI-LO has regularly hired employees with disabilities over the past decade through its partnership with VR’s Berkeley-Dorchester office, including eight within the past year alone. The store works with VR for pre-screening to find the right candidates, provides job accommodations, and when needed allows VR job coaches to assist in on-site training. The store also provides trial work experiences for individuals with disabilities to determine if they are a good match. BI-LO has also provided job shadowing opportunities for high school students on Disability Mentoring Day, and has utilized job retention services when an employee’s job might be in jeopardy due to a disabling condition.

The store was nominated by the Summerville Mayor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.

Large Employer of the Year Award

Brandon Skipper (right) of Eclipse Advantage in Spartanburg, accepts the Large Employer of the Year Award from Nikki Robinson, representing the Spartanburg Mayor’s Committee and the SC Vocational Rehabilitation Department’s Spartanburg area office.

Brandon Skipper (right) of Eclipse Advantage in Spartanburg, accepts the Large Employer of the Year Award from Nikki Robinson, representing the Spartanburg Mayor’s Committee and the SC Vocational Rehabilitation Department’s Spartanburg area office.

Eclipse Advantage in Spartanburg received the 2017 Large Employer of the Year Award.

Eclipse Advantage, an internationally recognized company that provides outsourcing solutions for warehousing, logistics and distribution, has regularly hired employees with disabilities over the past decade through its partnership with VR in Spartanburg. Fifteen individuals have been hired in a variety of positions ranging from industrial custodian to forklift driver to human resources staff member. The company provides accommodations needed by employees with physical disabilities and utilizes VR’s training services. Brandon Skipper of Eclipse Advantage serves in an advisory role for VR’s Business Partnership Network and the company participates in area job fairs geared toward hiring individuals with disabilities.

The company was nominated by the Spartanburg Mayor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.

Employment Achievement Award

Paul Watson of Green River Log Cabins accepts the Employment Achievement Award from Amelia England, employment coach for the S.C. Vocational Rehabilitation Department, representing the Spartanburg Mayor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.

Paul Watson of Green River Log Cabins accepts the Employment Achievement Award from Amelia England, employment coach for the S.C. Vocational Rehabilitation Department, representing the Spartanburg Mayor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.

Paul Watson of Woodruff is one of two statewide recipients of the 2017 Employment Achievement Award.

Watson, who is Deaf, works in construction with Green River Log Cabins in Campobello. A graduate of the SC School for the Deaf and Blind, Watson had long wanted to work in the construction industry but some companies had concerns due to communication and safety concerns.  Undaunted, he pursued certifications in construction from Greenville Technical College despite the significant challenges of completing those curricula through an interpreter.  VR’s Spartanburg team assisted him in finding employment with Green River Log Cabins and in providing job site modifications such as mirrors to increase visibility. The Green River staff communicates with Watson using visual aids and gestures, and Watson has helped some co-workers learn sign language.

In accepting the award, Watson said, “I am very happy to have the opportunity to work in my chosen field.”

He was nominated by the Spartanburg Mayor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.

 

Sheldon Ferguson (right) accepts the Employment Achievement Award. On the left is Cali Sandel of the SC Commission for the Blind and in the center is Leslie Sibigtroth of Insignia Group, Ferguson’s employer.

Sheldon Ferguson (right) accepts the Employment Achievement Award. On the left is Cali Sandel of the SC Commission for the Blind and in the center is Leslie Sibigtroth of Insignia Group, Ferguson’s employer.

Sheldon Ferguson of Rock Hill is the second of two statewide recipients of the 2017 Employment Achievement Award.

Ferguson, who is legally blind, is a customer service representative for Insignia Group in Rock Hill, a vehicle personalization company that works with the automotive industry. His engaging personality and passion for his work, complemented by job site accommodations, have fostered success. The SC Commission for the Blind assisted in his job search and in working with Insignia Group to provide video and screen magnifiers, a large print keyboard and other equipment that Ferguson needed to perform his duties.

In accepting the award, Ferguson cited advice from his father. “Don’t worry about what you cannot do, worry about your ability and master what you can do. That’s what I did.”

Journalism Contest

Sandy Phillips of Hilton Head Island High School is recognized as winner of the Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities Journalism Contest by Mark Wade, Governor’s Committee liaison for the SC Vocational Rehabilitation Department.

Sandy Phillips of Hilton Head Island High School is recognized as winner of the Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities Journalism Contest by Mark Wade, Governor’s Committee liaison for the SC Vocational Rehabilitation Department.

Sandy Phillips, a senior at Hilton Head Island High School, is the winner of the 2017 Journalism Contest.

Phillips wins a four-year scholarship to the state-supported college or university of her choice.

A panel of professional journalists chose her article as the best among entries submitted by students from throughout South Carolina, all of which explored the theme “#InclusionWorks,” and that people with disabilities have a wide range of talents, interests, perspectives, strengths, and work experiences.  Her article focused on young people with disabilities who have begun employment and have great hopes for future careers.

Phillips has been very involved in disability awareness, volunteering with Special Olympics and working as a camp counselor for the SOAR Special Recreation organization. She has given freely of her time to the extent of being recognized by the Town of Hilton Head Island with a Mayor’s Call to Service Award and has received a Presidential Community Service Award.

Phillips plans to attend Winthrop University. She is the daughter of Rene Phillips of Hilton Head Island.