Media release from Hawaii Department of Human Services


The Department of Human Services, Vocational Rehabilitation and Services for the Blind Division (VRSBD) recognized eight (8) Hawaii businesses yesterday for their efforts in removing barriers to recruiting, training, and employing individuals with disabilities.

The Neighbor Island businesses recognized by VRSBD as “2012 EMPLOYERS OF THE YEAR” are: lao Preschool in Wailuku, Maui; Safeway Food & Drug in Kapa’a, Kauai; and Korner Pocket Bar & Grill in Kealakekua, Hawaii. Oahu businesses recognized for their efforts to remove workforce barriers are: the Blind Vendors O’hana in Honolulu; Hale Na’au Pono in Waianae; Aloha Care in Honolulu; Tanioka’s Seafoods & Catering in Waipahu; and Safeway, Inc. in Honolulu.

Vocational Rehabilitation is a state and federally funded program for individuals with disabilities who require assistance to prepare for, secure, retain or regain employment. Employers who wish to hire individuals with disabilities work with VRSBD to match potential employees with corporate needs. Participating businesses are encouraged to maintain high expectations and quality performance standards while integrating VRSBD clients into their respective staffs.

The VRSBD Awards Ceremony also recognized the “2012 OUTSTANDING REHABILITANTS OF THE YEAR.” From Hawai’i Island, these individuals are: Sonja Fay Estrada Nakahara, John J. Cooper, and Max Monroe; from Kauai, Danison Sarmiento; and from Oahu, Gerard Lonergan and Eliza Ruth Sprague.

Susan Foard, VRSBD Assistant Administrator, describes these awardees as “true inspirations to everyone. They have broken barriers to work, and are working in jobs of their choice.”

The October 11, 2012 Awards Luncheon was held at the Ala Moana Hotel. Senator Malama Solomon read Governor Neil Abercrombie’s Proclamation that October is the official “National Disability Employment Month: A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?” Awards were presented by VRSBD supporters Senators Suzanne Chun Oakland and Ronald Kouchi, along with Representatives Mark Nakashima and John Mizuno.

To learn more about the Department of Human Services, Vocational Rehabilitation and Services for the Blind Division (VRSBD) visit