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Faith Hope & Charity  Abilities Foundation Newsletter   

High School/High Tech Program scores high marks

'I want to go to school,' were the first words Dzemila Ahmetovio uttered upon arriving in America from war-torn Bosnia in 1996. At the age of four she knew she would achieve what no one else in her family had -- a high school diploma. But it wasn’t easy. Standing in her way was a steep language barrier (she spoke no English) and a pesky learning disability. After attending several schools, she landed at Boca Ciega High School. In her senior year, she met project coordinator Kim Dittman and learned of Abilities’ High School/High Tech Program, but was quite shy and didn’t think it was for her. As she saw other students volunteering and visiting places like Tampa’s Museum of Science & Industry, she decided to enroll. And was it ever a game-changer. So much so that Dzemila agreed to share her experiences with the Abilities Guild at a recent luncheon.

Speaking from her heart and without notes, she explained how the program had a profound effect on her life and career path. ‘Tech inspired me to follow my dreams of being independent and having a bright future,’ she said. ‘I didn’t want to quit school in the 9th grade like others in my family. I wanted to achieve the American Dream. Kim gave me confidence and taught me how to prepare a resumé, complete a job application, answer interview questions, and find job openings. Tech helped get me out of my comfort zone and showed me I could be an adult and have fun at the same time.’

She not only earned a diploma, but also completed the 98-hour Certified Nursing Assistant course and passed CNA certification exam. She’s now employed at A Plus Staffing, and thanks to a grant from the Abilities Foundation’s B & G Endowment, has completed driver education training and passed her driver’s test. ‘Once I get more experience, I’ll study to become an LPN. My ultimate goal is to become a RN and work at All Children’s Hospital,’ she said. Lofty targets, but don’t bet against her accomplishing them.     

Dzemila is one of a dozen students enrolled in High-Tech at four area high schools. Funded by The Able Trust, Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Abilities Foundation, the program improves grades, exposes students to the workplace and higher-level careers, and reduces drop-out rates. For information call Kim Dittman at 727-538-7370x316.

Abilities rebranded as the ServiceSource Florida Regional Office

Abilities of Florida has a new name: The ServiceSource Florida Regional Office. Despite the name change, its purpose remains the same: To provide exceptional programs and services to individuals with disabilities. In July CEO Janet Samuelson and other ServiceSource officials staged an open house to announce the name change and rebranding initiative. Among the guest speakers and presenters were ServiceSource board member Joseph Sorota, Clearwater vice-mayor George Cretekos, Congressman Bill Young district representative Shirley Miaoulis, Veterans Affairs placement specialist Letha Smithson, and ServiceSource employee Kevin Southcott. Abilities, along with the other four affiliates that made up the ServiceSource Network, were rebranded for public relations purposes. Each independent organization maintains its 501(c)(3) status and legal name. However, for public relations purposes, all five organizations now share a unified name and collectively promote programs and services across the organization.

Event Calendar

October 15

Cajun Cafe Wine Festival at Cajun Cafe on the Bayou
100 Premium wines, Cajun apps, live music, prize drawings
$35 pp RSVP to 727-546-6732

October 20

Una Notte de Vino e Fuoco -- A Night of Wine & Fire at Mazzaro's Italian Market
Zonin Italian wines, Duncan McClellan Glass art, Zen glass-blowing demonstration, marvelous Mazzaro's cuisine, silent auction live music
$60 pp: $100 per couple   RSVP to 727-538-7370x234

Editor's Note:

Faith Hope & Charity is dedicated to benefactors who invest in the Abilities Foundation’s vision and mission. Your faith in our ability to improve the lives and families of Floridians with disabilities inspires us; your kindness provides people with hope for a bright and prosperous future; and your charity enables persons to achieve their career and life goals with confidence and dignity. Through this publication, we demonstrate the impact of your support, and alert you to tax-wise solutions to your estate planning needs.

The Abilities Foundation vision is to ensure that Floridians with disabilities have the opportunity to participate with dignity in everything that community life has to offer; its mission is to support the needs of people with disabilities through gainful employment, independent living, affordable housing, higher education, recreational and cultural resources, health, and accessible marketplaces.

Frank De Lucia
President and CEO
Abilities Foundation
2735 Whitney Road
Clearwater, FL 33760-1610
727-538-7370x345
727-538-7387 (fax)
fdelucia@abilities.org
www.abilitiesfoundation.com 

 
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