Contact: Melanie Mowry Etters
All She Needed Was a Chance
By Jeff Saulich
Miami—Anastacia McLoud wanted a job. As a 22-year-old, the Florida City
woman had the same dilemma that other young job seekers face—she needed
experience to get a job, but needed a job to get experience. Unlike her
competitors in the job market, McLoud’s developmental disability
unfortunately decreased her odds of being hired. However, due to an
innovative internship program, now she is happily employed by Baptist
Health South Florida (BHSF).
McLoud receives services from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities
(APD) and received job coaching services during her internship from the
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). This is Disability Employment
Awareness Month, when APD, VR, and other state agencies highlight
Floridians with disabilities who are successfully employed in their
McLoud was one of about a dozen participants in an internship program
sponsored by the Miami-Dade EmployAbility Network (MDEAN). The program
reimburses businesses for the cost of hiring an intern with a disability.
This provides the employer and the prospective employee a risk-free way to
try each other out. The fixed-term internships frequently lead to full-time
Such was the case for McLoud. After completing her internship earlier this
year in BHSF’s dining services department, she was offered a permanent
position there. She enjoys making salads, prepping food, and arranging food
trays. And she impresses her colleagues with her ability to concentrate on
the task at hand, regardless of the distractions around her.
“Anastacia is very productive,” says Stan Hodes, executive chef and manager
of production operations. “She has embraced our mission and vision in the
department. Her employment here reflects her ability to fit in, to be
accepted, and to really come into her own in terms of being productive.
She’s an important part of our department.”
McLoud understands the difficulties involved in finding work, perhaps more
than most. So she is quick to express her gratitude to her mentor and
supervisor—the employer who gave her a chance.
“I want to say to Stan Hodes, thank you for everything,” McLoud says.
“Thank you for your patience and for teaching me. Thank you for showing me
the right way. Words could never describe how I feel toward Stan and his
APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn, and
work in their communities. The agency annually serves more than 50,000
Floridians with autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual
disabilities, Down syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more
information about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit
APDcares.org or call toll-free 1-866-APD-CARES (1-866-273-2273).
PHOTO CAPTION—Anastacia McLoud of Florida City proudly receives a
certificate of appreciation from her mentor and new employer, Stan Hodes of
Baptist Health South Florida (BHSF). After completing an internship program
for people with disabilities at BHSF, McLoud was offered a full-time job
NOTE: Photo is available on request. Please email your request to:
REMINDER FOR MEDIA—When reporting on stories about people with
disabilities, remember to use language that puts the person first, rather
than the disability. For example, use phrases such as “persons with
disabilities” (instead of “the disabled”) and “person who uses a
wheelchair” (rather than “wheelchair bound”).