SHERMAN OAKS, Calif., April 24, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In recognition of National Autism Awareness Month, The Help Group proudly hosted the California Senate Select Committee on Autism & Related Disorders and the North Los Angeles Autism Regional Taskforce's (NLAART) Excellence in Employment Awards reception on Friday, April 20th at The Help Group's Sherman Oaks Campus. This uplifting program honored a host of individuals representing eight organizations who have stepped forward to provide employment and real-world vocational training for individuals with autism and related disorders. All who attended were visibly moved by the heartfelt stories of opportunity and achievement.
Senator Carol Liu (D – La Canada Flintridge), Member of the Senate Select Committee and Help Group President & CEO, Dr. Barbara Firestone, Chair of NLAART and Chair of the Statewide Coordinating Council of Autism Taskforces, presented the awards to the nominees: Linda Bell Blue, Executive Producer, and Dan Henry, Executive in Charge of Production, "Entertainment Tonight"/ "The Insider"; Aaron Kaplan, CEO, Kapital Entertainment; Dr. Susan Berman, COO of The Help Group, and Debby Webb, Help Group Senior Executive Administrator, The Help Group's Silverlining, a Designer Resale Boutique and Student Training Center; Dr. David Feinberg, President, UCLA Health System, and Mark Speare, Robin Epstein Ludewig, Robin Clayton and Paul Watkins of Ronald Reagan-UCLA Medical Center; Cecil Kost, President & CEO, Precision Dynamics Corporation; Al Santillo, Store Director, Ralphs Studio Plaza; TJ Maxx and Petco.
"Individuals with autism and other disabilities have the ability to be excellent employees. As with many things in life, sometimes all that is needed is a chance," said Senator Liu. "Those being honored with the 2012 Excellence in Employment Awards have done just that, and they are worthy of our praise and support."
Award recipient Linda Bell Blue reflected the sentiments of all of the honorees when she shared the overwhelmingly positive experience she and her colleagues have had with 21-year-old Oliver, a young man who has done an outstanding job as a Research Assistant for both of her shows. Ms. Bell Blue said, "Oliver is part of the CBS family. He has made me a better person, and he's made 'Entertainment Tonight' a better place to work."
Dr. Firestone noted, "The employers we have honored all have created a work culture that embraces and values contributions of people with special needs, and are committed to going the extra mile to help these individuals develop the skills to succeed in the workplace and beyond. In light of the ever-growing number of children affected by autism, demand has never been greater for vocational training and employment opportunities."
For more information, contact Karen Swift, Associate Director of Public Affairs for The Help Group at (818) 779-5212 or at [email protected].
About the Senate Select Committee on Autism & Related Disorders
Chaired by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, the 20 member Senate Select Committee on Autism & Related Disorders provides a legislative forum for research, analysis, deliberations, and outreach on the most pressing issues and concerns facing families who are dealing with autism spectrum disorders.
About The Help Group
Recognized as a leader in the field, The Help Group is the largest, most innovative and comprehensive nonprofit of its kind in the United States serving children with special needs related to autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, ADHD, developmental delays, abuse and emotional problems.
SOURCE The Help Group