Habilitation Center
22313 Boca Rio Road
Boca Raton, Florida 33433
Phone: (561) 483-4200
Fax: (561) 483-1194
Public Relations

Habilitation Center Achieves AS9100 Certification

Posted on Monday, March 11, 2013

/PRNewswire/ -- The Habilitation Center (www.habcenter.com) announced today that they had attained certification to AS9100 Revision C Quality Management System (QMS) for aviation, space and defense organizations. Certification to this high standard demonstrates the Center's commitment to continuous improvement in production quality, customer satisfaction and delivery performance.
The AS9100 quality standard is based on ISO 9001 which added stringent requirements specific to the aviation, space and defense industry. Among other changes, revision C brings the standard in line with ISO 9001:2008 and expands the scope of coverage to include land and sea based systems to defense applications. The requirements for quality management are second to none. Manufacturers, suppliers and service organizations succeeding in this highly competitive market are those who regard quality management as a key business driver. The Habilitation Center is now registered in the Online Aerospace Supplier Information System (OASIS). The Company’s registration number is 14539. The certifying body, National Quality Assurance USA (NQA) completed its audit in November 2012 and awarded its certification to the Habilitation Center on December 11, 2012.
The Habilitation Center is a turnkey contract manufacturer dedicated to providing high tech manufacturing opportunities to men and women with special needs. The Habilitation Center was honored to receive the “Manufacturer of the Year Award” from the South Florida Manufacturers Association. A NISH/Ability One affiliate, this 501 (c)3 non-profit organization was founded in 1976. Serving over 250 adults with disabilities, the Center operates in a state-of-the-art environment and is sophisticated in turnkey logistics and supply management, engineering and production. The organization is flexible enough to support a high mix, low to high volume product with the ability to change priorities based on customer need thereby providing a variety of solutions. Utilizing an ERP system and seasoned professionals, the Center is able to provide expertise in planning, purchasing, inventory management and production control to ensure on time product delivery.
Areas of expertise include: Electronic and mechanical assembly, cable and wire harness solutions, repair, recycling and refurbishment, kitting and warehousing, product test and contract packaging. The Company has diverse experience in a variety of market sectors including electronics, aerospace, pharmaceutical, telecommunications, government and industrial.
Please call (561) 483-4200 to learn more about the Center and its Manufacturing Services or go to www.habcenter.com.

Certificate of Commendation

At the Dec. 4 Board of County Commissioners meeting, Chairman Steven Abrams presented a certificate of commendation to Bill Ferris recognizing his 40-year career in the field of human services, including 27 years as executive director of the Habilitation Center in Boca Raton. Pictured with them (l-r) are Habilitation Center board members Louis Labadini, Ruth Feigl, Steve Pollart, Associate Executive Director Bob DiRocco, and Phyllis Kennedy.

Boca Habilitation Center Spotlights Plant Nursery

April 24, 2012

The Habilitation Center in Boca Raton is well known for the exemplary vocational training programs and support services it's been faithfully providing adults with cognitive, emotional, and physical disabilities since 1978. What many don't realize is that its seven-acre Plant nursery, which is both a dynamic training operation and a vital enterprise, is one of the largest bedding plant nurseries in Palm Beach County, with annual production approaching 1 million plants.
The Nursery recently hosted its Second Annual Open House in an effort to enhance awareness of the operation and its impressive array of stunning plants and to introduce existing and prospective customers to a new and exciting line of colorful plants for the Florida landscape.
Among the many participants were Andrew Britten, director of Propagation and Technical Services with Total Growth Solutions- a division of Costa Farms; Earl Poppell, National Accounts Manager with S & G Flowers, which is the largest plant brokerage in the world; Doug Parkinson from Euro-American Propagations; and Bill Schall, Commercial Horticulture Extension Agent in Palm Beach County. Guests included the 2012 class of Leadership Boca, sponsored by the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, who were touring the Center that morning as part of their Human Services Day.
Bill Smith, the Nursery's talented manager and resident green thumb, said the event was a sterling success and expressed his gratitude to all who participated. "This was a great opportunity," Smith said, "to introduce new, exciting, colorful, and hardy bedding plants to the landscape market and to thank our many loyal customers for helping us to become the fastest growing premium annual supplier in South Florida."
Please call (561) 483-4200 to learn more about the Center and its Plant Nursery or go to www.habcenter.com.
  BOCA RATON, Fla. -

Workers at the Habilitation Center in Boca Raton are producing high-tech electronics and horticulture and winning awards at the same time.

Dominique Mous assembles hundreds of cellphone shields every day.

"I love my job," she said. "It's a good job."

Mous works on the assembly line at the Habilitation Center. She's one of more than 200 mentally or physically handicapped workers producing electronics and circuit boards for Motorola, Sony and Tyco.

Last year, sales totaled more than $3 million, and the quality of work done there once earned the firm a manufacturer of the year honor.

Executive Director Bill Ferris said his workers pay attention to details.

"They take tremendous pride in the work they're doing and pay great attention, great detail to quality assurance," Ferris said.

Just outside the assembly area, Tom Harwood wheels some of the 1 million bedding plants grown there.

"I love being outside," he said. "I love working with plants because it gives me something to do."

The center supplies commercial customers and 33 cities, including Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Miami Beach and Coral Gables, with flowering plants.

Harwood and the other workers earn about the same as private businesses pay, and also gain a sense of worth.

"(It) makes me feel good inside," he said while loading plants for delivery.

The center's goal is to help people like Mous, Harwood and others in the program reach their full potential. In the past 33 years, it has helped men and women from Broward and Palm Beach counties do just that.

Copyright 2011 by Post Newsweek. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



rowing a flower is a delicate matter. The soil, the water. The wait.

But at a 6-acre garden at the very tip of Palm Beach County's southern border is a special place with special people who bring to life tens of thousands of flowers a year–a rather amazing feat considering how easy it is to kill one pot of pentas in a hot Florida second.

Impatiens. Plumbago. Salvia. Crotons. Lantana. Petunias.

"People come in here, and they're just blown away," says Bill Ferris, the executive director of the Habilitation Center. "We're one of the biggest bedding nurseries in Palm Beach County and probably a very well-kept secret."

When Ferris came to this place that gives daily advice and life purpose to about 225 mentally and physically handicapped adults, the nursery operation was selling "a few hanging baskets."

Twenty-six years later? They sell about a million bedding plants each year to more than 30 commercial customers.

Downtown West Palm Beach. Mar-a-Lago. Trump International Golf Club. The Breakers.

All that color in all those places comes from here.

"We like giving back to the community and what we offer the community is spectacular color," says nursery manager Bill Smith.

But it's the story behind the story that made us drive down one recent morning and take a peek. Here, the clients–many from the kind of hardscrabble homelife that goes along with a lifelong disability–do all the nursery work, reporting to duty each morning, taking breaks inside the comfortable air-conditioned main offices, arguing, laughing, persevering when they know they must.

They show up every day just like the rest of us poor working slobs, which might be harder yet when you have autism or Down syndrome or cerebral palsy.

Smith says it's all about...Well, it's about that thing that we try to teach our kids from Day One: Sticking with it.

"What we're asking these people to do is make sound judgments," Smith says. "If you can stress that the work is important, you find that people are willing to go out there and progress."

Bob DiRocco, the center's associate executive director, says they try to place clients in a job they're going to enjoy.

"We believe in choice," DiRocco says.

But it was a lack of choice that helped to create this center back in 1978, when a group of frustrated parents and social workers got fed up because there were no day programs for the mentally and physically challenged.

"Group homes were starting about then, but unfortunately there weren't a lot of day programs," says Ferris, the executive director who's been here since 1985.

The grass roots group started out on a small campus that has eventually grown to this 11-acre facility. The annual budget is $4million, which comes from Florida's share of the Medicaid Waiver program, the state Department of Education, its own manufacturing and nursery operations and donations.

Ferris said they've worked hard to market themselves to the community, although social stereotypes are a hard notion to dismiss.

After all, how can a grown woman with an IQ of 35 manufacture an important part for a sensitive electronic device?

Well, with the right direction and structure, with the right supervision and encouragement, she just can.

Eventually, businesses began catching on, Ferris said.

The majority of work at the Habilitation Center goes on in the manufacturing side of their operation, Ferris' undeniable pride and joy because of the sheer volume and intricacy of what they do, where tables of workers perform contract work for such electrical giants as Motorola and Tyco.

A smaller team of about 25 workers are stationed outside, plugging, planting, wheeling, tending, worrying about wind and rain and sun–and what's for lunch.

"After you're here a while, the differences go away," says DiRocco, the associate director. "They're just regular people after you get to know them."

Regular people, talking about the Miami Dolphins(Goodgrief), the rain(Goaway), and how they're good and ready for this hot weather to break.(Enoughalready.) Timothy Bell, 34, a mentally challenged client who landed a nursery job a while back has this to say about his nursery co-workers.

"They're nice," he says, simply.

And then he gives that special Timothy Bell smile–the one everyone on campus knows and loves.

The one he's used, time and time again, to coax a thousand little flowers into life.

The nursery is not open to the public, but for information about programs, donations or wholesale purchases,visit habcenter.com, or call(561)483-4200.
emilyjminor@aol.com

TD Bank Charitable Foundation Supports the
Habilitation Center's Manufacturing Services Operation

Andi Allen, Assistant Vice President and Store Manager of TD Bank on Powerline Road in Boca Raton, and Bill Ferris, Habilitation Center Executive Director, display enlargement of check recently awarded to the Center by the TD Charitable Foundation in support of the agency's Manufacturing Services operation.

County Commission Recognizes Habilitation Center
for Meritorious Service

Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams presents Bill Ferris, the Center's Executive Director, with a Proclamation on behalf of the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners on September 13, 2011 in recognition of the agency's 33 years of meritorious service to the community and its recent acquisition of ISO 9001:2008 registration. The Commission declared October 1, 2011 as Habilitation Center Day in Palm Beach County. Pictured from R-L: Linda Cooke (Director of Manufacturing Services), Bill Ferris, Steve Abrams, Bob DiRocco (Associate Executive Director), and David Louden (Quality Assurance Engineer).

The '70s were great for all sorts of reasons, and not just disco. Post-it notes. An MRI. The floppy disc.

All those came our way that decade.

And so did the Habilitation Center in Boca Raton, perhaps the most heartwarming creation of all.

"It was really a grassroots effort," says Bill Ferris, executive director of the suburban Boca-based nonprofit organization. "There was a group looking for meaningful day programming for adults with developmental disabilities and they began in some very cramped quarters–or so I am told."

And so, since 1978, the Habilitation Center campus has grown in both staff and campus size, now providing vocational training and daytime programs for 225 disabled adults living with emotional and physical disabilities ranging from autism and Down syndrome to cerebral palsy and other conditions. The center employs 50 people, including specialists in mental health, engineering, marketing and horticulture.

The center bought 11 acres back in 1980 and built the sprawling suburban complex that now helps to train clients for possible outside employment, Ferris explains. It also provides them a venue in which to become productive contributing members of society.

A Monday through Friday non-residential facility, the Habilitation Center has two main vocational programs. The oldest is the manufacturing center, where clients and staff–including at least one full-time engineer–work with companies like Motorola and Tyco to make sophisticated mechanical parts.

The Habilitation Center's other business enterprise is its seven-acre nursery, which provides bedding plants and flowers to some of South Florida's most brightly landscaped landmarks. "We're probably a very well-kept secret," says Ferris, about the nursery business that sells annuals and perennials to venues in 33 cities including Mar-a-Lago and The Breakers in Palm Beach, as well as Boca West Country Club in Boca Raton. The center operates on an annual $4 million budget, which comes from Florida's share of the Medicaid Waiver program, the state's Department of Education, its own manufacturing and nursery sales, and donations, Ferris says.

"More than 20,000 Floridians with with developmental disabilities are sitting at home today twiddling their thumbs because they have nothing to do," says Ferris, who explains the center always wants to increase its client list, but has limited resources.

If you want to help, volunteer hours and tax-deductible donations are in always needed. And they can use it–times are tough. "We are obviously facing the deepest cuts in our history," Ferris points out. "We've never seen cuts like this and I've been here 25 years."

The Habilitation Center is located at Center 22313 Boca Rio Road in Boca Raton. For more information, call 561-483-4200 or visit habcenter.com.

The BOCA RATON OBSERVER
Reprinted with permission from The Boca Raton observer ©2011