Department of Neighborhoods

Press Release

Mayor Parker Kicks Off 4th Annual Disability Awareness Month Festivities
Awards Presented to Citizens for Outstanding Service to People with Disabilities



October 5, 2012 -- Houston Mayor Annise Parker kicked off Disability Awareness Month today at the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center, 1475 W. Gray. The fourth annual celebration was sponsored by the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), the Houston Parks and Recreation Department and community partners.


The program featured opening comments by Mayor Parker, greetings from Christine Ha, who is blind and is the winner in this year's third season of MasterChef, and a keynote speech by Bill Klein, star of TLC network’s reality show “The Little Couple.”


The program honored outstanding citizens who have played a significant role in addressing and removing barriers for people with disabilities. The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities presented the True Blue Award to Ellen J. Goudeau and Tina Williams, for their service as members of the Houston Commission on Disabilities and their support of MOPD activities. MOPD presented the CARE Award to Robert "Dale" Ramos, in recognition of his volunteer work at the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center, which serves persons with disabilities, Keller Williams Realty Metropolitan for its work on RED Day 2012, and LyondellBasell for its work on Global Care Day 2012 and free legal clinics. The Special Care Advocate Award was presented to Claire D. Shynett for her many years of service with Mental Health Mental Retardation and to MOPD staff member Alvita McKinny for her caring dedication assisting citizens with disabilities.


The celebration featured entertainment by performers from the disability community, including music, dance, pantomime and a "Warriors Champions" film clip for an audience that included government officials, community partners and members of the disability community.


The objective of the October celebration is to raise public awareness of the positive contributions of Americans with disabilities. This year's theme is "Inclusion treasures diversity and builds community." According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 20 percent or about one of every five Americans have some level of disability. In the Greater Houston area, there are an estimated 600,000 people with disabilities, based on the 2010 Census.


The month's scheduled events are sponsored by MOPD in partnership with the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Houston Public Library and numerous community partners. Participating entities include: Workforce Solutions, Veterans Administration, Harris County Department of Education/CASE, MHMRA/Collaboration for Action/BAG, Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program, South Texas College of Law, METRO, DARS Division of Blind Services, Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities, The River Performance Troupe and Down Syndrome Association of Houston’s Pantomime Troupe, among others.


The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities is a division of the Department of Neighborhoods. To learn more about the Department of Neighborhoods, visit