April 17, 2007
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—On Friday, Mar. 30, in the Sunderland Public Library, the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation awarded Deborah Omasta-Mokrzecki, the manager of dining services and student dining in Amherst College Dining Services, a Certificate of Recognition for her work with mentally retarded and developmentally disabled people. The ceremony was part of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (MR/DD) Awareness month, where the department provides information and support for improving the quality of life of people with developmental disabilities. Laura Stein, an Amherst College junior from Rockport, Maine, was also recognized.

A resident of Hadley, Mass., Omasta has for five years worked with her staff and managers at Valentine Hall, the college’s central dining facility, to partner with Riverside Industries to hire food service attendants, food servers, salad servers, dishwashers and meal checkers/cashiers. Omasta-Mokrzecki is consistently praised for her vision and sensitivity in her work with Riverside. “If this was a screening of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ starring Deborah Omasta-Mokrzecki, it would be revealed that she dramatically changed the lives of at least 15 people served by Riverside Industries by giving them a chance to work,” a representative for the company stated. “Deb’s willingness to work in a collaborative style with Riverside is an absolute joy.”

The Department of Mental Retardation is dedicated to creating, in partnership with others, innovative and genuine opportunities for individuals with mental retardation to participate fully and meaningfully in, and contribute to, their communities as valued members. Its Website is at www.mass.gov/dmr/.