Awards recognize efforts to help people with disabilities
Mayor Randy Rowse honored employers and businesses committed to employing people with disabilities at the 17th annual Mayor’s Awards in a ceremony held Wednesday in recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
The Santa Barbara mayor and service organizations honored four local organizations for their commitment to employing and supporting people with disabilities.
The organizations being honored were Santa Barbara City College Foundation, Maximus, Smart & Final Extra! and Kyle’s Kitchen.
The theme of the ceremony held at the Cabrillo Pavilion was “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation,” which recognizes the vital role people with disabilities play in making the nation’s workforce diverse and inclusive.
The keynote speaker at this year’s event in Santa Barbara was Sophia Lee-Park, a lifelong disability advocate and community engagement intern at Isla Vista Community Services District.
This was Mayor Rowse’s first Mayor’s Awards and the first in-person Mayor Awards ceremony since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Santa Barbara City College Foundation won the NonProfit Award, which is presented to an organization that embraces the spirit of inclusion and accessibility. The foundation awards more than $5 million annually for student success programs, scholarships, book grants, emergency funds and other critical needs of the college.
The SBCC Foundation works to remove or break down barriers for the most vulnerable populations, including people living with disability.
Through its Promise program, SBCC Foundation provides tuition, books and supplies to graduates of local high schools. To date, more than 6,000 students have participated in the Promise program, including many who live with a disability. The SBCC Foundation provides accommodations to SBCC Promise Students with disabilities to learn at their own pace with a reduced or modified workload. It also provides scholarships for students to attend Santa Barbara City College’s Disability Services and Programs, which teach job and life skills for students with disabilities.
Smart & Final Extra! won the Outstanding Effort Award, which recognizes the store for hiring and supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Smart & Final Extra! has been known as an open and accepting workplace for people living with disabilities since it opened in 2016. In Santa Barbara, Smart & Final has been serving the community for decades through three area locations.
According to Mayor’s Awards organizers, Smart & Final works closely with each store to provide the necessary accommodations to ensure their success. At Store 914, 3943 State St., this commitment is evident through the store’s diverse staff, which includes seven employees living with an intellectual or developmental disability.
The store’s management devotes time to accommodate these employees while working to make their teams more inclusive. Job coaches help support associates living with disabilities to learn new tasks and communicate their needs so that they may thrive long-term.
Kyle’s Kitchen won the local community Employment/Accommodation Award, which is presented to an employer who reflects the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act in employment practices. This year’s award recognizes Kyle’s Kitchen’s work creating employment opportunities for people who live with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Inspired by their son Kyle, the Ferro Family opened its first Kyle’s Kitchen location in 2015. Each month, the business donates a portion of its proceeds to an organization that supports people with disabilities.
With four locations now throughout Santa Barbara and Goleta, Kyle’s Kitchen has donated more than $250,000 to support disability organizations.
Maximus won the Design/Accessibility Award, presented annually to a person or entity that has developed solutions for accessible structures, buildings or services, or provided accommodations to create equal and aesthetic access. This year’s award goes to Maximus for creating its DiversABILITY team to help job seekers who live with disability by connecting them with remote work opportunities.
In the last year, 73 candidates from the Santa Barbara area have been hired through the program.
The DiverseABILITY team at Maximus is a specialized unit whose singular efforts are to support individuals with disabilities, veterans, and veterans with disabilities into employment.