West Hempstead resident among honorees for special needs awards

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Adults and Children with Learning and Developmental Disabilities recently held its 33rd annual Employment Recognition Breakfast at The Heritage in Bethpage, where several people with disabilities, as well as employers that support their employment, were honored with different awards. Nearly 150 people attended the event, representing many of the more than 100 Long Island companies that partner with ACLD’s Vocational Program.

Among this year’s honorees was West Hempstead resident Meaghan Keating, who won the Vocational Achievement Award, which recognizes people with disabilities for their professional accomplishments. Keating works as a health and beauty associate at Target in Westbury.

ACLD, a leading Long Island-based nonprofit agency that supports people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities, hosts its annual breakfast to honor employees with special needs who have made notable achievements on the job and to salute businesses that are committed to hiring people with disabilities while encouraging other businesses to hire individuals with disabilities.

“Work is not just a job for the people we support,” said Jeanie Shelton-Clyne, ACLD’s assistant director of vocational services. “For most, this is a dream come true.”

ACLD Board of Trustees President Joe Ortego added, “ACLD is dedicated to helping people with special needs gain meaningful and sustainable employment. We have a dedicated workforce who give their all and have a deep desire to be active participants within the community. The people we serve thrive when given that chance.”

Other recipients of this year’s Vocational Achievement Award include Kevin Ironside, of Mineola, Maureen Boyle, of East Northport and Doug Kornblatt, of East Hills.

The Partnership for Advancement and Choices in Employment Award was presented this year to Russell Neustadt, of Plainview. The Thomas Choma Longevity Award recognizes people with disabilities who have maintained their employment for many years. This award was presented to two people: Rebecca Zager, of South Setauket and Joseph Montalbano, of Port Jefferson Station.

Founded in 1957, ACLD’s mission is to provide opportunities to more than 3,000 children and adults with autism, learning and developmental disabilities to pursue enviable lives, promote independence and foster supportive relationships within the community. ACLD employs more than 1,300 people and operates 86 different program sites including community residences and apartment programs across Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Services include early childhood services, day habilitation, residential alternatives, vocational training and job placement, recreation programs, respite, family support services, and occupational, speech and physical therapies. For more information, go to www.acld.org.

–Compiled by Nakeem Grant