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County Executive Leopold Invites the Public to Attend Disability Awareness Day Celebration

Features information for citizens and recognition for advocates

Annapolis (August 13, 2009) - County Executive John R. Leopold announced today that Disability Awareness Day in Anne Arundel County will be held on Saturday, October 24, 2009, at Westfield Annapolis. October is National Disability Awareness Month.

"I invite everyone with and without disabilities to attend," said County Executive Leopold. "People with disabilities accomplish great things every day. This event encourages and supports them in those efforts. I also want to thank Westfield for hosting Disability Awareness Day for the second year in a row."

This event highlights the many contributions of people with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities, family members and service providing agencies will be in attendance to provide information on resources in a festival-like atmosphere. The program will be held near the Pottery Barn inside the Bestgate Road side of the mall, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Adam Tracey, general manager of Westfield Annapolis, said the event is a pleasure to have. "We welcome all people with disabilities and commend their achievements," Mr. Tracey said. Westfield provides handicapped parking, curb ramps, automatic sliding doors, and availability of wheels chairs and electric carts at the Concierge’s Center.

County Executive Leopold will provide welcoming and introductory comments and personally will honor award recipients. Awards will be given in many categories, including business and Historic District accessibility and to employers with excellent records in hiring people with disabilities.

This year’s top honoree is Vicki Callahan, executive director of Opportunity Builders Inc., which recently located to Millersville and is a highly respected organization that serves individuals with developmental disabilities.

For more information, the public should call (410) 222-4383 or use Maryland Relay 7-1-1.

  

Vicki Callahan - this year's honoree

This disABILITY Awareness Day 2009 honoree is Vicki Callahan, executive director of Opportunity Builders Inc., which recently located to Millersville and is a highly respected organization that serves individuals with developmental disabilities. In 1986 she joined OBI as production manager and has worked nearly 25 years to fulfill OBI’s vision - to be the preferred provider of diverse employment and recreational opportunities to enhance skills, self-worth, and socialization of adults with development disabilities. She was nominated by Iris Littig, a member of the Commission on Disability Issues.

Image: Vicki Callahan
   

Among her many accomplishments, Ms. Callahan is known for being part of the team that led OBI out of financial difficulty to the sound non-profit status it enjoys today, becoming its executive director in 1991. She has helped to increase its budget from $500,000 to just over $5 million and increased the number of clients served from 66 to more than 325. She led the organization to its new home in Millersville, successfully raising more than $4 million from government, foundations, and private donations to assist in the funding of the project.  The new home fulfills a dream for staff, board, volunteers and most importantly the clients. Additional fund-raising is underway.

Ms. Callahan has worked to place a number of individuals with severe disabilities in competitive employment; built sustaining relationships with the business community in order to place these individuals; and has the love and respect of the clients and their families.

A native of Sharon, Pa., and a resident of Severna Park, Ms. Callahan has a B.S. degree in rehabilitation education from Pennsylvania State University. She has worked in the field with adults and children with developmental disabilities for 27 years. She has been married for 20 years to Rick Callahan, deputy executive director of The Arc of the Central Chesapeake, and is the mother of two teenagers, Tyler and Brianna.


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