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ABVI’s Diaz Named 2020 Peter J. Salmon Award Nominee

Jan 28, 2020

ROCHESTER, NY -- The Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI), a mission of Goodwill of the Finger Lakes, has selected Destiny Diaz as its 2020 Peter J. Salmon Employee of the Year.

As ABVI’s Peter J. Salmon Employee of the Year, Diaz will accompany ABVI leadership to the National Industries for the Blind (NIB) National Conference being held in Washington, D.C., and will be considered for the national award.

NIB established the award in 1968, naming it after the late Dr. Peter J. Salmon. He was one of the nation's outstanding advocates for people who are blind. Salmon was instrumental in the passage of the original legislation that created the AbilityOne Program. Nominees must not only demonstrate successful on-the-job performance but also for other positive activities, both at work and in the community.

Destiny’s Story

Destiny Diaz first encountered ABVI as a child while participating in the Winter Chill and Summer Sizzle programs. These programs gave her the opportunity to interact with children who were like her. She went roller skating and rode bicycles, her favorite activity as a child.

Outside of ABVI, Destiny had a different experience on a daily basis. Her daily life was a struggle. Destiny was born with an eye disease that made her legally blind and her eyes look different. This led to her being the subject of bullying. According to Destiny, when she started attending public school after several years at a private school, the bullying intensified.

The bullying was difficult enough by itself, but Destiny also had a hard time adjusting to public school. She had a hard time making friends. The learning experience was different for Destiny, too, because the teachers did not understand how she learned and did not have the necessary equipment to help her. It led to her almost failing the second year she was at the school. Yet, Destiny persevered. She achieved her goal of graduating high school in 2015.

“It felt really, really good. It felt like I could accomplish a lot more,” said Destiny.

Nine months after graduating high school, Destiny found herself again at ABVI. This time she was in the sewing division. She said she had never sewn before taking up this job. Destiny has grown in the position garnering recognition from her supervisors for her punctuality, flexibility in moving from job to job within the department, her ability to exceed production goals, and the quality of her work.

Since coming to the sewing division five years ago, Destiny has found it to be fun work and she enjoys the people she is working with. She has a strong desire to stay in the division and to grow with the department. Destiny has the goal of advancing to the line lead position. She would also like to be a supervisor one day.

Another thing that Destiny has done while with ABVI’s sewing department is to assist in translating for her coworkers who only speak Spanish. Destiny’s skill in this area comes from being an advocate and primary care giver for her grandmother, with whom she lives. It has inspired another dream – to become a licensed interpreter. Destiny has had the opportunity to speak with several interpreters because her grandmother has many appointments and she needs interpretation. These opportunities illuminated the path Destiny would need to take to achieve this goal. It would involve a great deal of work, and Destiny admits it seems difficult. She made it through high school, though, so she thinks she could do this, too.

That “can do” attitude is what people experience whenever they interact with Destiny. It is the same attitude she showed when she was younger and rode her bicycle when everyone else said she should not because of her visual impairment. Her grandmother told all of those people that bike riding was Destiny’s favorite hobby, and she could not keep her from doing it. Today, even after her vision loss has caused her to stop pedaling, Destiny still has an active lifestyle, participating in beep baseball and as a member of the Rochester Rolling Thunder blind bowling league.

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Destiny Diaz
Destiny working in ABVI's sewing department