Employers and individuals who make a difference in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities received special recognition from the county on Tuesday at a Proclamation Ceremony.
Those honored have helped people with disabilities participate in community activities, in addition to obtaining job skills and employment.
Families, friends, educators, employers and others packed the atrium at the National Science Foundation in Ballston to honor the two individuals and three employers.
Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to Julia DeLeon, an instructional aide in Arlington Public Schools, and Sharon Raimo, CEO of St. Coletta of Greater Washington, Inc.
“Julia DeLeon and Sharon Raimo have dedicated their careers to helping children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes. “They embody the Arlington vision of inclusiveness, wherein ‘each person is important.’”
The three local employers who were honored for their long-term commitments to hiring people with disabilities are Revolution Cycles, Northrup Grumman Corporation and Joint Base Myer/Henderson Hall and Commissary. Hynes said she hopes these employers serve as a reminder to everyone in the community that people with disabilities can benefit the workforce.
“Employment often facilitates meaningful and wider community integration,” said Hynes. “It can lead to increased self-esteem and a higher status in one’s own family and social group. Higher income can lead to increased independence and participation in the community. This is as true for employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities as it is for all of us.”
The ceremony was part of March’s month-long celebration of what the county dubbed “Including People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Month.”