Businesses, citizens recognized for commitment to people with disabilities

Camas’ Furuno USA is among the award recipients

A local business was among two recognized for demonstrating commitments to employing people with developmental disabilities.

Costa Vida Fresh Mexican Grill, of Vancouver, received an award as the Small Business of the Year, while Furuno USA, Inc., of Camas, was named the Large Business of the Year.

The companies were recognized at the 16th annual awards ceremony, sponsored by the Clark County Developmental Disabilities Advisory Board, Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, New Seasons Market and Umpqua Bank.

The event celebrates businesses that employ persons with developmental or intellectual disabilities, and employment agencies and residents who have demonstrated outstanding service to persons with developmental disabilities.

Furuno U.S.A. is a wholesale distributor of marine electronic equipment. Its Camas headquarters, which employs 68 people, serves as the company’s main service and distribution center for Furuno products in North America.

During the ceremony, Vancouver City Councilwoman Anne McEnerny-Ogle, acting as mayor pro-tem, presented the award to Furuno USA Director of Human Resources Francine Murphy.

“Furuno has worked to create independence and inclusion in so many ways,” McEnerny-Ogle said. “Management has shown that with the right support, anyone can work and be productive. They’ve paid attention to how coworkers can support people to increase productivity and independence on the job, to engage in constant communication, and to give all of their employees a voice in how they carry out their own jobs.”

Jacob Lattanzi, who was raised in Camas and graduated from Camas High School, was hired at Furuno as a professional maintenance worker 11 years ago. He has Down syndrome.

“It has been a growing and learning experience for us, over all of these years. It has been a blessing,” Murphy said of Lattanzi’s contributions to the company. “The saying is ‘It takes a village,’ and that is very true in this case. It takes a lot of people to make it work and be successful.”

The event also included the presentation of several other awards, according to a press release.

Kerri Martelli, a clerical support assistant with the state’s Department of Social and Health Services Children’s Administration, was named Employee of the Year. Her career with the state spans 16 years.

Donna Gunnels of Trillium Employment Services was the recipient of the David Hanawalt Service Award. An advocate for inclusion, Gunnels finds the right match between supported employees and businesses wanting to hire them.

Geneva Wood of Employers Overload received the Dennis Campbell Outstanding Service Award. Her work helping people contribute to their communities reaches far into businesses and organizations.