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Communication Director

Shopping in Stuart Always a Pleasure

By Stephanie Rogers

After relocating to Florida from Washington D.C. in 2015, Jose Vallecillo’s number one priority was finding a job. And with the assistance of Florida’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation with a job coach from Helping People Succeed, plus support from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), Vallecillo was able to find and keep the perfect job for him at Publix Super Market at Cornerstone at Stuart shopping center.

Vallecillo, 57, has a disability and receives services through APD to help him succeed at work. Vallecillo has been a valuable customer service team member for six years where he bags groceries, assists customers by loading groceries in their cars, as well as returns and sanitizes carts. When asked what he enjoys most about his job, he said “I get to meet a lot of interesting people.”

“Jose is a very dedicated team member. He has adapted well to procedure changes, never calls out, and even picked up extra shifts during the height of the pandemic”, says Debra Athos, Vallecillo’s employment support with Helping People Succeed.

Vallecillo loves working because he is able to save money to do what he enjoys most. “I need the money because I do a lot of traveling”, says Vallecillo. In addition to traveling during his free time, he also spends time volunteering in his community and competing in bowling with Special Olympics.

When asked what advice he would give someone with a disability looking for a job, Vallecillo said, “There are a lot of opportunities out there.” He even recommended that they look into working at Publix and said, “Publix is a very good company to work for. There are a lot of opportunities to work your way up in the company.”

APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn and work in their communities. The agency annually serves more than 55,000 Floridians with autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, Phelan-McDermid syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more information about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit or call toll free 1-866-APD-CARES (1-866-273-2273).