September 25, 2003
CONTACT: Carol Stephens
(907) 465-6922

Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development  

News Release   


Employers, Organizations and Individuals Recognized

On Thursday, October 2, 2003, the Governor’s Committee on Employment & Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities will hold its Annual Awards Ceremony honoring individual Alaskan’s, employers and organizations that have helped advance the employment of people with disabilities.

This year’s awards ceremony coincides with activities across the nation that recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

The Governor’s Committee on Employment & Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities will honor the following individuals, employers and organizations at this year’s awards ceremony:

The GOVERNOR’S AWARD is given to QuarterMaster Laundry, United States Army Alaska. During the last 3-years QuarterMaster has been responsible for hiring over 100 people with disabilities. This award recognizes the public, private or civic organization that has done the most to promote awareness of the abilities of people with disabilities.

The EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR AWARD is awarded to Jane Peterson, owner and operator of McDonalds in Kodiak. Ms Peterson takes a very active role in employing and training individuals with disabilities. She is honored for her willingness to carve positions that meet both the needs of her employees and her business.

The REMOVAL OF ATTITUDINAL BARRIERS AWARD, is given to Don Brandon, ADA Coordinator for the State of Alaska. This award recognizes an agency, company or individual that has made a significant contribution to reducing or eliminating attitudinal barriers facing people with disabilities. His work both in and outside the office has made a substantial contribution to the removal of numerous barriers that people with disabilities experience.

THE CAROLYN PETER VOLUNTEERISM AWARD honors a person who devotes a considerable amount of time to volunteer activities that affect people with disabilities at a local, state or national level. Paul Sandhofer is recognized for his “can do” attitude and the time and effort he has put into his volunteer position as a Board Member for Access Alaska.

THE BARRIER FREE DESIGN AWARD recognizes the architect or owner whose facility design and construction demonstrates exceptional access for use by people with disabilities. The Association of Village Council Presidents, Housing Authority and Development Corporation in Bethel is the recipient of this award. Lulu Heron is a congregate living apartment complex for Alaskan Elders and people with disabilities. It is TOTALLY ADA compliant, including the wheel-in smokehouse.

Naomi Chikoyak, a resident of Bethel is the recipient of the CHAIRPERSON AWARD. This award recognizes an individual or agency that has made an exceptional effort to increase the employment of people with disabilities. Naomi is the manager of the local Subway and is honored for her commitment to hiring and personally training several individuals with disabilities.

The Hewitt Memorial Award recognizes an individual who is an outstanding rehabilitation professional who has been of extraordinary benefit to individuals with disabilities. John Clare, owner of Alaska Services for the Blind, has been selected for this award. As an Orientation and Mobility Specialist, he is described as a true “journeyman”, a true professional that has mastered his trade. Especially for those who are elderly and reside in remote communities, John has done an outstanding job in providing services to the blind and visually throughout all Alaska.

The Highest honor for the Alaskan of the Year Award goes to Mr. Roy Hiratsuka of Dillingham. He is employed with at the Regional Food Bank and has overcome several challenges since an accident rendered him paralyzed. Although he experiences a disability himself, Mr. Hiratsuka has assisted many other individuals with disabilities in gaining employment skills. While maintaining several subsistence activities, such as commercial fishing, caribou and ptarmigan hunting, he still has the strength and will power to return to work and assist others.

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