The Arc of Walker County won eight of the 12 major awards given out at the 2012 Alabama Disability Conference.
The Arc and its staff received five awards, and the city of Jasper got top honors in three other categories.
Joanna Brand, administrative director of the Arc of Walker County, said it takes a team effort to not only be recognized at the state level but also to continue improving the quality of life for local residents with disabilities.
“All of our employees do a fantastic job. We’re very proud to be established in Walker County and to be able to provide the community these services,” Brand said.
The Franklin Smith Award for National Distinguished Service, the highest honor bestowed by the Arc, was among the local Arc’s numerous wins this year.
Karen Hyche, the occupational therapist for the Arc’s Early Intervention Program, received the award in part due to her research regarding autism spectrum disorders that has been published nationally.
Executive director Lou Vick received two prestigious awards this year — the Arlene Ainsworth Executive Director of The Year Award and the Marvin B. Dinsmore Award.
The local Arc was presented with the Communicator’s Award for its outstanding communication efforts.
The Arc of Walker County has won that category multiple times in recent years in spite of not having a marketing budget.
“We put a lot of effort into our materials, whether it is our annual report, our brochures, our video, our Facebook page or our website. That all gets done in our spare time,” Brand said.
The Arc of Walker County also received the Local Chapter Statewide Membership Award this year.
Jasper’s Senior Activity Center was honored with the Boggs-Mitchell Award for providing challenging recreational activities year-round for people of all ability levels.
Employer of the Year went to Memorial Park Natatorium for incorporating individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the work force.
The city of Jasper also received the Distinguished Community Service Award for its various inclusive programs such as Dream Team, Miracle Field and APEX playground.
The Community Media Excellence Award went to Jennifer Cohron of the Daily Mountain Eagle for efforts to create better public understanding of intellectual and developmental disabilities and individuals affected by them.