News & Information > News Releases

October 9, 2019

CONTACT: Melanie Mowry Etters
Communication Director

Determined to Succeed

By Melanie Mowry Etters

TAMPA, FL – Renee Taylor wasn’t sure what career path she wanted to follow after leaving school. Her mother convinced her to volunteer at St. Joseph Hospital-South in Riverview. She tried a few positions in different areas and found she was the most successful in the cafeteria. Taylor learned the responsibilities of a variety of cafeteria jobs and demonstrated she was a hard worker and eager to do well.

After a year of volunteering in her position, Taylor applied for a paid position as a Food Service Representative. Taylor went through the interview process and, due to her volunteer experience, she was the only candidate who had complete knowledge of the responsibilities of the job and the skills to perform them, so she was selected. Her supervisor, Food Service Coordinator Wilma Hodby, said, “If Renee wants to be paid then she should be because she sure is doing the work.”

Taylor said, “I like working with food. It’s the first job that I wanted to do because I am helping people. Also, the people I work with are nice. It’s a good job.”

Taylor has a developmental disability and receives services from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD). October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and APD is highlighting its customers’ workplace achievements.

Taylor has a great relationship with her supervisor she calls Ms. Wilma. “Ms. Wilma is very good. She tells me what I need to do. She also lets me know suggestions to improve my work,” said Taylor.

Hodby said, “I am really proud of Renee. She has stepped up and is excelling. She recently celebrated one year of employment. I was telling her that it’s good to take more classes to better yourself, and she called me her Work Mom. I like that.”

Hodby says that Taylor shows great teamwork because when she completes her tasks, she asks others how she can help them. With her variety of skills, she can step in to offer a hand when needed.

Taylor says her paycheck goes straight to the bank. She is saving the money and hasn’t decided what she plans to spend it on just yet.

When asked about her future working at the hospital, Taylor said, “I’ve been thinking I would like to try being a cashier.” She is always willing to learn more.

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).