Statewide award honoring people with disabilities given to Colum -, GA News Weather & Sports

Statewide award honoring people with disabilities given to Columbus man

Edilberto "Eddie" Santiago receives the award (Source: WTVM) Edilberto "Eddie" Santiago receives the award (Source: WTVM)

A trio of agencies has chosen a local man for a statewide award honoring Georgians with disabilities. 

The winner of the Working Wonders Award is a hearing impaired man from Columbus who's succeeded despite his challenges. 

Edilberto "Eddie" Santiago has been deaf since birth. He was not able to find a job until he was introduced to a company that focuses on hiring those with disabilities. 

Santiago is hearing impaired but tells us that won't stop him from leading a life as close to normal as possible. 

He was able to speak with us through his interpreter Thursday night. 

"I have to let them know I'm deaf, I don't really read lips well. So we'll get out paper and pencil and write to each other," Santiagos said. 

Santiago is employed through PowerWorks Industries, an affiliate organization of Goodwill Southern Rivers. The company provides jobs for people with disabilities through contract custodial and ground maintenance services on Fort Benning. 

Santiago has been working with the company for two years. 

"My dad encouraged me to see about getting a job and so it's really been nice to have that success working," said Santiago. 

Because of his hard work, the 27-year-old was recognized with the statewide "Working Wonders Award," picking up his award in Atlanta last week. 

"I'm just really happy. It's like Wow! I work so hard and it's really paid off. It was such a surprise to get it," said Santiago. 

"The award recognizes people with disabilities who work  and who are valuable to their team members and valuable to their employer," said Bridgette Russell, Goodwill Southern Rivers Communications Specialist. 

His award comes in time to help bring awareness to National Deaf History Month, which is celebrated from March 13 to April 15.

Santiago, in the meantime, is staying where he's at and hoping to keep inspiring others through his normal life as he continues custodial work.

"I really am thankful for the people here for the people at PWI and how they've helped me. I really am thankful for that," said Santiago. 

Power Works also helps to employ those with documented disabilities with custodial work on the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, GA. 

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