Label Shopper manager exemplifies Spirit of ADA

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BRATTLEBORO — For Label Shopper Manager Heather Howe, being recognized for reflecting the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act was a nice way to let people know how the business contributes to the community.

"We're not just a clothing store," she told the Reformer.

On Tuesday, Howe was presented with the 2017 Spirit of the ADA Award for Brattleboro at the Putney Road business. These awards are being given to employers throughout Vermont this month.

Eligibility for the award has to do with criteria on recruitment, outreach, hiring, accommodation and support, according to the Governor's Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities. The committee has been around since the early 1960s.

Committee Chairwoman Donna Curtin said her group's charge is to advise the governor on ways to create equal employment for all Vermonters.

"We do that in the way of sharing employment issues that we're hearing from the community and by partnering with business and government and people with disabilities," she said. "We've been giving these awards out for four years and we try to give them out statewide so that each community is really able to be reflected in the work that they are doing. We are really, really impressed with what is happening in Brattleboro. Each year, they've been really fun. And your legislators turn out and really are supporting the efforts."

State Sen. Becca Balint, D-Windham District, and state Rep. Laura Sibilia, I-Windham-Bennington, were among those in attendance for the award presentation.

On receiving the award, Howe told the Reformer, "It feels amazing."

Cindy Del Gatto, senior business account manager at Creative Workforce Solutions, called Howe "a coach, mentor and guider to individuals who come from all walks of life with all types of employment needs."

"They could be highly skilled, they could be entry-level high school students to mature workers," Del Gatto said. "Heather opens her door and her heart to them, guides them with a gentle hand to help them become the best they can be — either to stay here as an employee or to move on to other things."

Howe told attendees, "I could not do this without my team."

Label Shopper has six employees including Howe.

"I have an amazing team of employees that help out with each individual that comes through these doors," she said, thanking her crew "very much" for all that they do.

Del Gatto read reasons behind Howe's nomination, which were presented on a plaque.

Howe "makes it a practice to welcome individuals for informational interviews and work experiences," Del Gatto said. "Heather understands that the same people who struggle on interviews can be some of the best employees. Heather provides job training for individuals to improve skills that can create opportunities for employment."

At the Southern Vermont Career Expo in Brattleboro last week, the Label Shopper provided tips on dressing for job interviews.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or @CMaysBR.

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