New Year’s Wishes to All

Tallahassee, FL (December 28, 2016)  On behalf of the staff at Florida ARF, we wish each of you a happy and prosperous 2017.  As 2016 closes, we look backwards and celebrate the many successes our member agencies and RESPECT Employment Centers realized during the year.  We also look forward to 2017 and are eager to assist our member agencies and Employment Center partners in achieving their missions so that they can continue to provide quality services and supports for individuals with disabilities.  We are here to work with you to achieve even greater things in 2017!


Florida Legislature Holds Organizational Session

Tallahassee, FL (November 22, 2016) On November 22, the Florida Legislature held organizational meetings in the House and Senate chambers, and Florida ARF was in attendance.  Sixty-six new members joined previously elected Legislators for the kickoff of the 2017 Session.  While the 2017 Session does not officially start until March 7, Senate president Joe Negron and incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran shared their plans for 2017.  The Senate showed off its newly decorated Chamber and announced it will focus on educational and water issues.  The House has already begun focusing on curbing special interests in the Florida legislature including an overhaul of the lobbying industry, is promoting school choice options, and is working on controlling the state’s budget.  Both Houses must pass a state budget for FY 17-18 that is currently funded at $82 billion.  Florida ARF will be updating its members on 2017 legislative activity as it occurs.


RESPECT of Florida Awards Micro-Enterprise Grant

Tallahassee, FL (October 5, 2016) Today, Florida ARF dba RESPECT of Florida awarded St. Andrew Bay Center and Thaddeus Wilkins a $12,500 Micro-Enterprise Grant to expand a photography business known as Oceanspray Photography & Videography.  Wilkins was honored as part of the annual ceremony held at the Tallahassee City Hall that celebrates October as Disability Employment Awareness Month.  Wilkins provides photography services for small and medium sized businesses including onsite product and corporate photography, corporate portraits, company documentation, corporate events, and much more.  His business delivers unique images that tell a story through high quality imagery.  RESPECT has awarded three microenterprise grants over the last two years in accordance with its mission of creating employment opportunities for people with disabilities.  RESPECT of Florida Executive Director Ryland Musick said, “We enjoy the opportunity of helping people with disabilities realize their abilities and become successful entrepreneurs.  Disability Employment Awareness Month is a great venue to educate the community about individuals’ abilities and how the RESPECT program can help create job opportunities that are responsive to their needs.”  As a program of Florida ARF, RESPECT works with more than 50 non-profit agencies around Florida that employee about 1,300 people with disabilities who provide commodities and services for local and state governmental entities.


Florida ARF Hosts Awards Ceremonies at 40th Anniversary Celebration

Tallahassee, FL (September 23, 2016) On September 21st, Florida ARF members met in Tampa to celebrate the Association’s 40th anniversary, conduct annual business, and celebrate the accomplishments of our members and the individuals they serve.   The awards featured peer recognitions, RESPECT of Florida awards, and the Circle of Champions award which honors member agency employees who have provided outstanding service while providing services and supports for individuals with intellectual disabilities.  We also recognized member agency representatives who have announced retirement plans within the next year.  The ceremony was well attended and, as always, we enjoyed interacting with our member agencies and the individuals they serve.  As President & CEO Suzanne Sewell said: “We love our Florida ARF family!”