Virginia House of Delegates Presents Joint Resolution in Honor of Melwood’s 60th Anniversary
February 14, 2023
For 60 years, Melwood has broken down barriers for people with disabilities through expanding access to meaningful employment opportunities and promoting more inclusive communities
Upper Marlboro, Md. – This year, Melwood, a leading employer, advocate and preferred provider for people with disabilities, celebrates sixty years of service in Virginia, DC and Maryland. Since 1963, Melwood has advocated for a world in which people with disabilities are fully included by spearheading innovative programs that empower people with disabilities to live, work and thrive in their communities.
Delegate Elizabeth Bennett-Parker (District 45) introduced a resolution on February 13, 2023 in the Virginia House of Delegates, commending Melwood for six decades of employment, training, support services, and advocacy on behalf of Virginians with disabilities. Melwood has partnered with Virginia leadership on key legislation to increase economic opportunities for people with disabilities for decades.
Melwood was founded in 1963 by a small group of parents and community supporters who decided to teach plant care to young adults with disabilities. Many considered these young adults to be unemployable, but Melwood’s founders had a goal that was almost unheard of – jobs for people with disabilities. Today, Melwood is one of the largest employers of people with disabilities in the mid-Atlantic region, employing nearly 1,000 people with disabilities and providing meaningful job opportunities across a wide variety of industries.
“Throughout Melwood’s history, our organization has been ahead of its time in combatting harmful stereotypes and discrimination,” said Larysa Kautz, CEO of Melwood. “For sixty years, Melwood has been driving change and opening doors to opportunities that had been closed for centuries. We will continue to look for new ways to amplify the contributions and perspectives of people with disabilities, and we appreciate the strong partnership of the Virginia General Assembly to ensure that Virginians with disabilities are represented in the laws that so directly impact their lives.”
The need for accessible employment for people with disabilities remains high. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Labor, one in four adults in the U.S. lives with a disability, while less than 20% of individuals with disabilities are employed. To help close this divide, Melwood offers career exploration, job training, and coaching programs that ease the transition into the workplace for employees with disabilities. Melwood also partners with employers to create pipelines for talent, break down barriers in the hiring process, and train leaders and managers on how to create a workplace where everyone can be successful.
In addition to its career services, Melwood also supports programming for people of all ages living with and without disabilities. Some of Melwood’s programs include the abilIT technical career training program, Camp Accomplish for children with and without disabilities, Operation Tohidu® counseling services for veterans with service-related trauma, the Building Paths skilled trades training program, the Workforce Innovation and Skills Hub (WISH), and more. To learn more about Melwood and the ways you can help support its many programs, please visit melwood.org/ways-to-give.
Melwood appreciates the thoughtful recognition from Delegate Bennett-Parker and the resolution’s co-patrons, Delegates David Bulova (District 37), Eileen Filler-Corn (District 41), Charniele Herring (District 46), Patrick Hope (District 46), Paul Krizek (District 44), Alfonso Lopez (District 49), Michelle Lopes Maldonado (District 50), Kathleen Murphy (District 34), Kenneth Plum (District 36), David Reid (District 32), Irene Shin (District 86), Mark Sickles (District 43), Richard (Rip) Sullivan, Jr. (District 48), Kathy Tran (District 42) and Vivian Watts (District 39), as well as Senators Adam Ebbin (District 30), Barbara Favola (District 31), Janet Howell (District 32) and Scott Surovell (District 36).
Melwood is one of the largest employers of people with disabilities in the country, employing more than 1,600 workers – nearly 1,000 of whom are people with disabilities. Melwood offers job placement, job training, life skills for independence, and support services to more than 2,500 people each year in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Melwood also has an inclusive summer camp program for children and provides employment and support services to veterans and active-duty military members who have experienced service-related trauma or injury. For more information, visit www.Melwood.org.
Vice President of Government and Public Relations