STARability Foundation has announced the return of its STAR Award initiative and recently presented the first one since the pandemic to its dedicated vocational partner, Driftwood Garden Center. The award was presented to Driftwood owners Craig Hazelett and Josee Tardif by employee and Trailblazer Academy participant Nicole (Nicki) Moynihan.
The award recognizes local businesses that employ STARability participants, including those enrolled in the Trailblazer Academy, a community-based program focused on providing vocational training, life skill development, and recreational experiences for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Driftwood has been a loyal supporter of STARability since 2017. “As our relationship with STARability grew over the years, we wanted to further develop the partnership and establish our business as an inclusive employer,” said Hazelett. “It felt like a natural next step to support their work and do our part to set an example for other businesses in the community.”
STARability was able to match candidate Nicki, who had related work experience and an interest in a paid position in horticulture, as a seasonal Garden Assistant at Driftwood in 2020. She works closely with her coworkers and a job coach to complete her tasks, which include deadheading, weeding, pricing, cleaning, and more as assigned. Nicki also works as a Garden Bud at THRIVE*ability: A Community Garden Project, supported by STARability and the City of Naples Parks and Recreation.
“At STARability, we feel blessed for the opportunity to make successful employment matches that benefit both the business and our STARs,” said Madison McNally, STARability’s Chief Program Officer. “Our partnerships with organizations such as Driftwood are vital to our mission of providing all individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities with access to programs, resources and opportunities to lead meaningful and productive lives.”
Driftwood Garden Center is family-owned and operated, with two locations in Naples and Estero. They are a full-service nursery offering custom landscape design, water gardening, florist, pottery, and over an acre of shade houses full of every plant or flower imaginable. The team at Driftwood takes pride in supporting other local businesses and charities, donating their time, goods and services to over 200 area charities each year, in addition to STARability Foundation.
Photos courtesy of Emily Ford