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Topeka ADA Advisory Council Recognitions

May 15, 2017

Topeka, KAN - Two Topekans with a longstanding history of outstanding service to those with a disability were recognized today by Topeka Mayor Larry Wolgast and the City of Topeka's Americans with Disabilities Act Advisory Council.

Nancy Johnson and Ray Padilla were recognized for their "support of the full integration into Topeka community life for all people with disabilities … by increasing their independence, opportunity and quality of life, and equal participation in the social and economic life of the city."

"A community is judged by the way it cares for its citizens," Mayor Wolgast said. "What these two individuals have done for our community and, especially for individuals with a disability, are tremendous. They are on the frontline everyday improving their lives."

Johnson, who is nearly blind, was born with an under-developed optic nerve. She has served those with a sight disability for over 50 years in several different capacities. Short-term employment included special education instructor, typist, daycare provider, and door-to-door sales.  In 1980 she began employment as a rehabilitation teacher with Kansas Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired.  She traveled to the homes of people experiencing vision loss, helped them adjust to the vision loss and taught the adaptive techniques necessary for them to retain or regain independence and return to employment. Since 2010, she has volunteered with the Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (KABVI).  She served four years as KABVI's president, edits the organization's quarterly newsletter, provides information and referral services, and is recording secretary.

Johnson graduated high school in 1959 from the Kansas State School for the Blind, a fully residential program. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication disorders from Wichita State University, an elementary teaching certificate from Kansas Wesleyan, and a master's degree in education from University of Phoenix.

She serves on the Kansas Council for Developmental Disabilities, the Kansas Advisory Committee for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the State Plan for Independent Living Transportation Work Group, and Topeka Metro's Advisory Committee for Accessible Transportation Services.

Ray Padilla provides education, support and direction to individuals struggling with severe and persistent mental illness. He has worked in the mental health field for over 40 years, giving much of his free time volunteering for patient-related services.  He works with consumers who have volunteered for 16 years at the Topeka Public Library, Midland Care and the Topeka Civic Theater & Academy. Programs he and clients participate in together include the library's "Red Carpet Program," which delivers books to those homebound and sorting playbills at the Topeka Civic Theory or Academy.

Padilla said consumers who volunteer improve their self- esteem by giving back to their community and at the same time help to decrease the stigma of mental illness through their excellent service. "When a consumer is recognized for their service, that's what I'm most proud of and you can see it in their face when an employee of the organization they volunteer for gives them positive feedback for a job well done."

Ray and his wife have raised more than $5000 for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in the last four years volunteering their time at two fundraisers through Valeo Behavioral Health Care in Topeka. Ray helped brainstorm and produce the first NAMI Walk fundraiser in Topeka.

Ray has also volunteered for 12 years for the Senior Olympics.

Ray holds a degree in Human Services from Washburn University and is a licensed Mental Health Technician. He worked 25 years at Menninger Clinic before its move to Houston and has worked at Valeo ever since Menninger moved to Houston.

The Topeka ADA Advisory Council is an advisory group to the City Council. The 10-members are nominated by the City Council and appointed by the Mayor. The mission of the Topeka ADA Advisory Council is to support the civil rights of and full integration into Topeka community life for all people with disabilities. The functions of the advisory council fall primarily within the scope of the ADA Title II, State and Local Governments category. Topeka is mandated by the federal government under the ADA to have an ADA advisory council.

The presentation of certificates was the first ones presented under an ADA Advisory Council program to recognize individuals for their exemplary contributions to those with disabilities.

Allyn Lockner, advisory councilmember, told of the importance of the recognition program.

"We look into the community and spot these individuals, elevating them for recognition, in hopes others in the community will step-up," Lockner said. "And in the end, our community will be better."

 

Ray Padilla, Mayor Larry Wolgast

Ray Padilla, Mayor Larry Wolgast

Nancy Johnson, Mayor Larry Wolgast

Nancy Johnson, Mayor Larry Wolgast

Mayor with honorees

Mayor with honorees

Members of the City’s ADA Advisory Council, honorees and the Mayor

Members of the City’s ADA Advisory Council, honorees and the Mayor