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FALL 2012

NATIONAL NEWS FOR AbilityOne PRODUCING & AFFILIATED CRPS NORTHWEST REGION AND NATIONAL NEWS Products Connection . . . 2 Each 14-by-33-foot LED flag rendition, located in Times Square, New York, N.Y., consists of 110,460 LEDs; 260 LEDs on each printed circuit board; 416 circuit boards; eight printed circuit boards; and 52 troughs.

Building a Legacy: The Herkimer ARC Times Square Flag Project By Joan Wishod Reardon, director, Public Relations, Herkimer ARC


alk to Suzanne Bakiewicz, director, National Business Development, Herkimer Industries (HI) in Herkimer, N.Y., and you will quickly realize she agrees with the old adage: “if there’s a will, there’s a way.” That is… a Wil Kuhnlenz. Kuhnlenz, NISH director of Business Development, Partnership and Alliances, and the NISH team were important advocates in helping to bring together partners to complete a project to place LED American flag renditions in Times Square—all within a very tight timeline from August to December 2011.

The challenge: to provide the landmark Times Square Armed Forces Recruiting Station in New York City with a new face—a modern, more accurate portrayal of the American flag—and to increase energy efficiency of the facility. The project required electrical engineering design, creation and installation of two 14-by-33-foot LED American flags affixed to each side of the 520-square-foot walk-in station, which is the single most successful station in the country, playing an important role in the recruiting effort for the Armed Forces.

AbilityOne Design Challenge University Winners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Northwest Region News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Hosts AbilityOne Day 2012 . . . 9 Challenge Enterprises Hosts Group of Inventors . . . . . . . . . 10 QWE Scoop . . . . . . . . . 12

“Wil Kuhnlenz and the entire NISH team are an outstanding group to work with,” said Bakiewicz. “Their many years of background knowledge and experience in exceeding the expectations of Federal agencies provided unparalleled support for this project.” The partners involved in the American flag project included the Herkimer ARC, AbilityOne® producing nonprofit agency Herkimer Industries, Fiberdyne Labs Inc., Intercontinental Development Corporation, NISH, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Armed Forces. Herkimer ARC President and CEO Kevin Crosley commented, “This is a story about building a legacy. These flags are on display at one of America’s No. 1 tourist attractions.1 Nearly 38 million sightseers revel in Times Square’s bright lights each year. We were able to partner with Fiberdyne Labs, an 8(a) for-profit business that produces custom LED signs and lighting. 1

Herkimer continues on page 8

Chesapeake Center Increases Productivity . 14 Job Squad and Christopher O’Dell . . . . 17 Revised 404 Collection Form Expected . . . . . . . 20

Products Connection 

Tell the Products Sheriff As a reminder, please use the “Tell the Products Sheriff” e-mail address: TPS@, to obtain responses to specific Products questions and to comment on Products issues and concerns. E-mails are responded to within three business days and selected responses (minus agency and personal information) will be printed in future Products Connection issues.

Products Statistics

Oct. 1, 2011 to Aug. 15, 2012 Federal Opportunities Sole Source Notices


Sources Sought Notices


RFI 5 M&Ds Sole Source Notices


Sources Sought Notices


Commercial RFIs 2 Number of FTEs Added


Total PL Line Extensions/ Commercial/M&D 182.97 Number of Price Changes Processed 150* Number of Allocations Processed 145 *As of July 10

Cost vs. Price — What’s the Connection?


avid A. Reed, CPA, a former government contracts auditor for 29 years, joined the NISH staff in 2011 as director of government contracting compliance. Reed, who has extensive experience in costing and Federal regulations, provided training on direct and indirect costs at the NISH National Training and Achievement Conference in May. In this article, Reed highlights growing trends related to cost and pricing in the government marketplace and the importance of understanding the relationship of cost and price.

The relationship between cost and price cannot be overstated. By definition, price = costs + profit (or net proceeds). Even in those instances where price analysis/market research is adequate to support a fair and reasonable price determination, CRPs need to ensure they are accurately identifying the actual costs to produce the product or provide the service. As government customers subject CRP proposals to more scrutiny, CRPs will be required to provide rational explanations of their cost estimates consistent with the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR). The most pertinent of these regulations can be found in FAR 15.404 and FAR 31.7/ OMB Circular A-122. FAR 15.404, Proposal Analysis, specifies the procedures to be used by government contracting personnel for analyzing proposals submitted by CRPs. With an increasing trend of using cost analysis, which entails reviewing individual cost components and profit, CRPs will be expected to not only provide more detailed cost data, but also to explain how this data complies with applicable FAR cost principles. In addition to estimating direct costs, developing and applying indirect cost rates used in the proposal will also be of particular concern. Contracting officers consider indirect costs a prime target for potential price reductions, which means CRPs should understand exactly which costs are truly indirect, and how these costs

2  •  Fall 2012  •  PRODUCTS CONNECTION  •  CRP Connection

should be effectively managed and controlled if they have any hope of appropriately recovering them on AbilityOne® contracts. The applicable cost principles that define indirect costs and the methods for allocating them to contracts are contained in FAR 31.7/OMB Circular A-122, Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations. Pricing Memoranda 2 and 3, published by the U.S. AbilityOne Commission™, specifically address these cost principles. For product manufacturers, the concepts of overhead and G&A (general and administrative costs), both of which meet the definition of indirect cost, should be clearly understood. Recent experience indicates that contracting officers are asking more and more questions about proposed indirect costs and they are challenging the bases over which these costs are being allocated. CRPs have total discretion in deciding how to define and allocate indirect costs, but the selected methodologies must comply with the principles prescribed by FAR 31.7/A-122. CRPs must also recognize the importance of maintaining an accounting system that appropriately and consistently segregates direct and indirect costs, and allocates costs equitably to all benefitting contracts and functions within the organization. The AbilityOne Program is facing tremendous challenges in today’s environment of government fiscal constraints. CRPs are being asked for additional support for their proposed prices. A more in-depth understanding of the FAR cost and pricing principles is necessary to ensure CRPs are making appropriate business decisions and recognizing that negotiated AbilityOne contract prices may not allow for the recovery of all costs. For more information on direct and indirect costs and accounting system requirements, contact David Reed at or (678) 838-5407.

National Connection 

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CRP Connection  •  NATIONAL  •  Fall 2012  •  3

Northwest Region Connection

News From the NISH Northwest Region

Tending to our Seed Corn


t is a time of great economic challenge in our country, including our Federal, state and local governments. Our customers under the AbilityOne® Program are facing very difficult decisions in the face of dwindling tax dollar investments combined with growing mission expectations. In the short term, this means a very hard look at the ongoing AbilityOne contracts in all of our community rehabilitation programs (CRPs). In too many cases, this will also represent some reduction of employment for the individuals we are dedicated to serve.

This is a reality that we must face head on with our greatest degree of professionalism. This reality also presents an opportunity. As our customers struggle to meet their difficult fiscal and programmatic challenges, they need, more than ever, dedicated, skilled, reliable partners at

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the table. The AbilityOne Program offers the contractual flexibility like no other acquisition model to team with customers and solve problems. NISH and AbilityOne CRPs need to help our customers develop the best product and service solutions possible within today’s constrained budgets. The way in which we approach this effort is similar to how farmers worked tenaciously to save and preserve their seed corn for future growing seasons. They know that their seed corn must be preserved and nurtured during times of stress. Their future wellbeing and growth wholly relies upon how they care for their seed corn today. The critical relationship we jointly hold with our Federal customers is our precious seed corn for the future. The things we do today to sustain and encourage our customer relationships will come back to us when the growing season begins anew. In Partnership, Rick Van Hoose

Join us for the 2012 Northwest & Pacific West National Council of Work Centers Conference

October 9 - 11, 2012 Portland, Oregon

Hilton Portland & Executive Tower 921 SW Sixth Avenue Portland, OR 97204 NISH Pacific West Contact: Alicia Pagan (925) 543-5101

NISH Northwest Contact: April Murray (206) 272-3535

Northwest Region Connection

AbilityOne in The Heartland: Creating Jobs for People with Disabilities in Rural America


he world’s view of what constitutes the United States is­­, for better or worse, influenced by Hollywood, Los Angeles and New York—glitzy cities populated by movie stars and tycoons, business executives, traffic, big business, money, noise, corporations and commerce.

This impression is punctured on any flight from coast to coast. What do we see when we look out the window (excluding the takeoff and landing)? We see open rural land—crops, rivers, forests and mountains. That is actually what the United States is, in great part. The University of Montana’s Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities observes that 97 percent of total land mass in the United States is rural; 21 percent of total U.S. population (or 59 million people) live in rural America. Of those 59 million people, nearly 11 million (or 19 percent) have disabilities. Although a few rural states are experiencing economic “booms”—i.e., North Dakota, attributable to the discovery of new sources of petroleum—these “boom” industries do not address the serious longstanding lack of employment opportunities for people with disabilities living in rural areas. The economy is changing, but the barriers faced by people with disabilities in America’s Heartland remain formidable.

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As a means of creating change, the NISH Northwest Region and the National Council of Work Centers invited CRPs to a regional conference, AbilityOne® in the Heartland: Creating Jobs for People with Disabilities in Rural America, Aug. 21–23 in Rapid City, S.D. In addition to providing opportunities to exchange ideas with colleagues in our industry. Conference topics included: • Creative Financing • Toolkits for Business Development • Leadership Skills for Crew Leaders • Social Franchising A conference recap will be included in a future newsletter. If you have questions, please call April Murray, senior office administrator, NISH Northwest Region, at (206) 272-3500.

Northwest Region Connection

Damage Control: The Art Of Managing “Ohhhh Nooooo!!!”


n our nonprofit realm, success in meeting our mission of providing employment opportunities for people with disabilities is fundamentally dependent on excellent contract performance—completely fulfilling the requirements of the Statement of Work with strictly minimal deviation. The customer trusts that the contribution to his or her mission that your organization performs will not contribute to the anxiety level they experience from other sources. To maintain that view, you’ve developed and implemented fully defined processes, schedules and supervision in your operation.

However, you also have in your operation “the human element” in which variation, or at least the potential of variation—positive and, unfortunately, negative—is always present. We can generally rely on this potential variation of “the human element” to be unpredictable and surface at the most inopportune times, finding their way through the checks and balances we’ve implemented to minimize such occurrences. Suppose your last inspection of the night­—after your crew has left for home—reveals that a caustic hard floor product was inexplicably spilled on the white cashmere rug in the Base Commander’s Reception Room. How should we react to the situation? Following our “Ohhhhh noooo!!!!!!!!” (or words to that effect) we should try to start with the specific, and then move our focus to the system in general. Is it possible for the damage to be instantly corrected? This is the best possible outcome (other than the spill not occurring) which, unfortunately, seldom occurs. If, on the off chance we can correct the damage, we may wish to leave a note for the customer briefly explaining what happened and how it was corrected.

However, more often than not, the damage cannot be instantly erased and will be noticeable to the customer the next work day. What then? In this case, we need to communicate with the customer in person if possible briefly apologizing for the accident, outline how and when the damage will be repaired and assuring the customer it won’t happen again. We shouldn’t be excessively profuse with our apologies; our goal is to have our customer move past this out-of-the-ordinary incident. After that, our focus should turn to our processes and procedures. How did this happen? Does our training need to be more thorough? Do we have persons assigned to suitable tasks? Do we need to adjust supervision or schedules? Do we need to review our processes? Although everyone in an organization needs to be accountable for job performance, excessive blame and personal correction is counter-productive. Any negative feedback should be limited to specific behaviors and/or under-performed tasks, delivered with the understanding that such are “opportunities for improvement” coupled with the confidence that the person can and will improve. If no such confidence exists, we likely need to change assignments. We can’t expect perfection, either from ourselves or in the people we manage. We can and should, however, expect incremental growth and improvement in both ourselves and the people we manage. After all, it’s all part of being human…

CRP Connection  •  NORTHWEST REGION  •  Fall 2012  •  7

National Connection 

Markus Irvine, one of the three veterans with disabilities who worked on the LED project, was inspired by his work on the LED panels and circuitry during the creation and construction of the flags. He has since enrolled in an electrical engineering program at a local college to continue developing his skills in this field.

Herkimer continued from page 1

The project employed six people with disabilities, including three veterans. The flags were fabricated with materials made in the United States—many from the state of New York. This venture is a good illustration of a collaboration that creates partnerships and employment and honors our nation’s Armed Forces. When you put all these facets together, you have a very special project.” Markus Irvine, one of the three veterans with disabilities who worked on the project, said, “As a veteran, I feel great pride in this project, and I hope it brings pride to the people who see it. Someday, while walking through Times Square with my two daughters and son, I’ll show them the American flags and say, ‘Daddy helped to build these.’ I know they’ll be proud.” While Fiberdyne Labs spearheaded the design and engineering for the project,

Herkimer Industries also provided project management, de-installation at the New York City site, fabrication, installation and testing, and final site cleanup. People with disabilities were also instrumental in the success of the project, performing cutting and assembly of wiring harnesses for each flag, which consists of 110,460 LEDs per flag; 260 LEDs on each printed circuit board; 416 circuit boards on each flag; eight printed circuit boards; and 52 troughs per flag. Flag creation was performed at Herkimer Industries and the Fiberdyne manufacturing plant in Frankfort, N.Y. Veterans also assisted with the onsite fabrication, assembly and material handling in New York City. Some of these tasks included disassembly and removal of existing fluorescent bulbs, ballasts and components; assembly and installation of wiring and conduits to the LED units from the provided electrical panels; installation of

8  •  Fall 2012  •  NATIONAL  •  CRP Connection

the LED systems on ledges/trays that match the stainless steel interior; and testing and site cleaning services. “Herkimer Industries and Fiberdyne Labs make a great team,” Crosley said. “We finished and installed the project ahead of schedule. The building and installation of the Times Square flags has become the single most exciting project we’ve worked on in the Herkimer ARC’s history. I think the legacy of the flags will carry on for many years to come, and this project will lead us to additional meaningful work opportunities for the people we support.”

National Connection 

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Hosts AbilityOne Day 2012


ollaboration was the word of the day on April 16 at the first-ever WrightPatterson Air Force Base AbilityOne® Day. The Enterprise Sourcing Group (ESG), NISH and NIB hosted a one-day training conference to provide government acquisition personnel insight into the AbilityOne Program and display the diverse capabilities of the community rehabilitation program (CRP) community. Carl Shofner, director, ESG, Air Force Materiel Command and Dr. Steve Butler, executive director, Air Force Materiel Command, kicked off the day’s events with words of support for this inaugural event and asked the audience to embrace the opportunity to learn more about AbilityOne and how to collaborate with CRPs on future contract opportunities. The ESG is responsible for strategically sourcing goods and services throughout 71 installations. Marie McManus, Air Force key account manager, NISH, was instrumental in building this relationship and opening new doors for the AbilityOne Program at WrightPatterson.

A highlight of this event was Nathan Short sharing his story with the participants. Short is a wounded warrior and a member of NISH’s Speakers Bureau. Short was injured while on active duty in Iraq. His heroic story touched the individuals in the room as they listened to him and followed his journey. Short shared how difficult it was for him after returning home on a medical discharge. Fortunately, through the AbilityOne Program, he found himself and learned to utilize the skills acquired in the military. Short discussed his experi-

The training sessions focused on the benefits of partnering with the AbilityOne Program and clearing up any misconceptions people may have about the Program. Bob Chamberlin, president and CEO of NISH, and Scottie Knott, chief operating officer, NIB, joined Zeich on a senior leader panel to field questions from the contracting personnel. This session was received extremely well as it sparked great conversation and created a safe environment to discuss important topics and share best practices.

Nearly 200 people attended the training and exhibit show. Along with the training session, 18 CRPs hosted booths in the exhibit area displaying their At the first Wright-Patterson AFB AbilityOne Day, 18 CRPs hosted booths in the exhibit area, displaying their capabilities in various product capabilities in various product and service lines of business. and service lines of business. The session attendees took full advantage of the opportunity to tour the The day wrapped up with guided tours of ences working for PCSI on its Tinker Air booths and interact with the CRPs. It was local CRPs for interested attendees. This Force Base and his promotion to quality a great way to expose individuals to the was a great opportunity for people to see assurance manager. Many individuals diversity of the AbilityOne CRP network firsthand individuals with disabilities at commented on Short’s speech as it truly and highlight the abilities of people with work. Goodwill Easter Seals of the Miami displayed the success and purpose of the disabilities. Kimberly Zeich, deputy Valley, TAC Industries, Greene, Inc. and AbilityOne Program to provide products executive director of the U.S. AbilityOne Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Commission™, provided a general overview and services for Federal customers while Visually Impaired all hosted tours at their building integrity for veterans and others of the AbilityOne Program and how facilities. This inaugural event has paved the with significant disabilities through government personnel can benefit from way for future collaboration and partnering employment opportunities. working with CRPs in the program. activities.

CRP Connection  •  NATIONAL  •  Fall 2012  •  9

National Connection  Connection 

Challenge Enterprises Hosts Group of Inventors


hallenge Enterprises of North Florida Inc. recently hosted a meeting of the North Florida Inventors and Innovators Group. Formed in 2010 and chaired by Bob Hawkinson, vice president of TLC Inc., the group’s membership has grown to more than 70 entrepreneurs, inventors and engineers who meet monthly to exchange ideas and develop new product solutions ranging from marketing to production.

“Challenge Enterprises of North Florida implemented an extraordinarily creative idea by inviting a group of inventors to their facility,” said Dana Ferguson, senior team manager for NISH Products in the NISH South

Katie Vineyard, COO of Challenge Enterprises, gives a tour for the North Florida Inventors and Innovators group of Challenge Enterprises’ manufacturing project for BAE Systems.

Region and key speaker at the event. Attendees of this out-of-the-box meeting learned about the CRP’s capabilities and core competencies, as well as about each other’s needs. The group also was interested in learning about the AbilityOne® Program and how it works. As expected, the inventors group presented itself as an enormous opportunity for new commercial manufacturing jobs. The number of products this group had patented and were ready to put on the market was remarkable. “You could feel the energy in the warehouse with this dynamic group of visionaries,” said Nancy Keating, CEO of Challenge Enterprises of North Florida. Many members had been pursuing the production of their products for many years, and some products were already in the

10  •  Fall 2012  •  NATIONAL  •  CRP Connection

marketplace and needing additional assistance in manufacturing. Hawkinson, the group’s founder, stated, “The fact that Challenge Enterprises is willing to work with people and go through the bumps in the road to get to where they are going is a strong suit.” “A lot of people have ideas but don’t know what to do with them,” Hawkinson added, “and that’s what this group is about.” Based in Jacksonville, Fla., North Florida Inventors and Innovators Group meets once a month, taking tours of other plants and bringing in guest speakers to give more insight to their members. Entrepreneurs come together to find connections, share resources and exchange ideas. “This group was able to see firsthand the capabilities of Challenge Enterprises and make initial determinations on how they could partner to manufacture, assemble or package their products. Reaction to the event has been very positive, and it appears that many people with significant disabilities may soon have additional opportunities for employment as these ideas turn into projects,” said Ferguson. Since the initial meeting and tour, formal meetings have taken place with Solutions Unlimited, Aero-Fast Bicycle Company, Bull Gator Archeology Equipment and Weed Recede to potentially springboard into production projects. “This was a great opportunity for the private business community to partner with a NISH organization,” said Doug Conkey, chairman of the board of County Commissioners for Clay County. “The ultimate goal is to make dreams come true as NISH helps provide opportunities through organizations like Challenge Enterprises to get innovative products into the Federal marketplace. The biggest highlight of the day is that this process provides enhanced opportunities for a workforce with disabilities to get meaningful employment. This is truly a win-win situation.” If your agency would like more information about how to reach your local Inventors Group, contact United Inventors Association of USA or visit the organization’s website at

National Connection 

QWE Scoop A Quarterly Message

NISH Modifies Criteria for Annual CRP Certificate of Achievement NISH modified the criteria for the annual CRP Certificate of Achievement to Jan Williams, QWE Director include participation in the Employee Research System (ERS) and the Quality Work Environment (QWE) initiative. This change is already in effect and will impact the certificates issued this fall. A summary of the Certificate, the ERS and QWE initiatives, and supports available to begin participation will be addressed in this article. The Certificate of Achievement is a way for NISH to recognize CRP excellence in performance. Bob Chamberlin, NISH president and CEO, personally signs each Certificate of Achievement and he feels strongly that the Certificate of Achievement reflects a sign of excellence and remains relevant to the current environment and reflective of the most significant developments in the AbilityOne® arena. The additional requirements for participation in ERS and QWE are indicative of the importance of those two initiatives and of the forward thinking of CRPs that are going above and beyond to truly demonstrate excellence in their operations. ERS is a database where CRPs submit employee level payroll data. It has already provided valuable information that was not available prior to its formation. Before ERS, NISH relied on anecdotal data, but now there is statistically significant data about AbilityOne employees to support those anecdotes. Having accurate

12  •  Fall 2012  •  NATIONAL  •  CRP Connection

information is critical to educate the public and Members of Congress on the benefits and scope of the program. QWE is an initiative created by the U.S. AbilityOne Commission™ (The Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled operates as the U.S. AbilityOne Commission) and one that NISH wholeheartedly supports. By implementing QWE, a CRP takes an extra step to systematically approach the issues surrounding employees in the AbilityOne Program. QWE is simply a goal setting process and CRPs decide what goals they want to implement. Before October 2011, the Certificate of Achievement was based on agency ratio, satisfactory performance, on-time deliveries, timely submission of the Quarterly Employment Report and annual form 404 report, and timely payment of commissions. CRPs now have to also meet the criteria for ERS and QWE participation. To meet the ERS criterion, CRPs must be signed up to participate and submit data for at least two quarters during the fiscal year. This requirement applies to CRPs with greater than 50 AbilityOne employees performing direct labor. To meet the QWE criterion, CRPs must be signed up to implement the initiative, have completed their self-assessment and submitted a Strategic Action Plan. This requirement applies to CRPs with greater than 25 AbilityOne employees performing direct labor.

QWE Scoop continues on page 13

National Connection  QWE Scoop continued from page 12

Information about ERS and QWE has been shared in a variety of formats including in-person trainings, the ERS data workgroup, webinars, the NISH annual conference, and the regional NCWC conferences, to name a few. In light of the changes to the Certificate of Achievement, a joint ERS and QWE “traveling roadshow” will be done at locations across the country so the information about how to participate will be brought “to a neighborhood near you.” These sessions will be more than presentations;

Sizzlin’ CRPs The following CRPs recently completed their QWE self-assessment: Asian Rehabilitation Services, Inc. Los Angeles, Calif.

Fedcap Rehabilitation Services, Inc. New York, N.Y.

ASPIRO, Inc. Green Bay, Wis.

Foothill Vocational Opportunities Pasadena, Calif.

Bridges BTC, Inc. Rockledge, Fla. Challenge Enterprises of North Florida, Inc. Green Cove Springs, Fla. Coastal Enterprises of Jacksonville, Inc. Jacksonville, N.C. DART Ridgecrest, Calif. Davis Memorial Goodwill Industries Washington, D.C.

Garten Services, Inc. Salem, Ore. Goodwill Community Services, Inc. Phoenix, Ariz. Goodwill Industries of Kentucky Louisville, Ky. Goodwill Industries of South Florida, Inc. Miami, Fla. Goodwill Industries of South Texas Corpus Christi, Texas

CRPs will be able to talk to other CRPs that participate in ERS and QWE. The traveling roadshow is in development. Once identified, dates and locations will be posted to the Institute for Economic Empowerment’s website. For more information on ERS and QWE, visit

Goodwill Industries of Southern California Panorama City, Calif.

Lincoln Training Center South El Monte, Calif.

Seneca-Cayuga Arc Waterloo, N.Y.

MacDonald Training Center, Inc. Tampa, Fla.

Shasta County Opportunity Center Redding, Calif.

Navigations, Inc. Battle Creek, Mich.

Skils’kin Spokane, Wash.

Northwest Center Seattle, Wash.

Skookum Bremerton, Wash.

On Our Own Services, Inc. Houston, Texas

STEPS Farmville, Va.

Helena Industries Helena, Mont.

Peninsula Services Bremerton, Wash.

SVRC Industries, Inc. Saginaw, Mich.

J.P. Industries, Inc. Tucson, Ariz.

Pueblo Diversified Industries, Inc. Pueblo, Colo.

Tehama County Opportunity Center, Inc. Red Bluff, Calif.

Lake Region Corp. Devils Lake, N.D.

Rappahannock Goodwill Industries, Inc. Fredericksburg, Va.

The Arc of Hilo Hilo, Hawaii

LifeROOTS Albuquerque, N.M.

Rauch New Albany, Ind.

Lillie Rice Center, Inc. Walla Walla, Wash.

San Diego Outsourcing Systems, Inc. San Diego, Calif.

Goodwill Specialty Services, Inc. Omaha, Neb. Great Plains Enterprises, Inc. Las Vegas, Nev. Gulfstream Goodwill Industries, Inc. West Palm Beach, Fla.

Ka Lima O Maui Wailuku, Hawaii

Thomas-Grady Service Center Thomasville, Ga. UCP of Central Arkansas Little Rock, Ark. VGS, Inc. Cleveland, Ohio

CRP Connection  •  NATIONAL  •  Fall 2012  •  13

National Connection 

Chesapeake Center Increases Productivity By Leslie Orndoff, Article reprinted with permission from


young woman sits down with an effusive smile. She looks slightly reluctant to begin her story, yet when she does, her smile remains bright and her confidence seems to build. “I started working at Chesapeake Center in 1996,” she begins. “I lived in the Chesapeake Center apartments and worked at Cadmus.” It wasn’t long before she met her husband, fell in love and had a baby. Her story sounds typical, even unextra– ordinary, but for the fact that she has a disability.

She struggles with both bi-polar disorder and a learning disability, which resulted in poor work performance and attendance. After the gentle encouragement and reassurance of the staff at Chesapeake Center, she has made tremendous strides in both her confidence and desire to achieve. She now attends work regularly, is on the way to owning her own home, has gotten her driver’s license and is working toward getting her GED. Hers is an inspirational story, which perhaps would have turned out differently if it weren’t for the work of this nonprofit dedicated to changing the lives of people with disabilities. Chesapeake Center is a complex of buildings that sit quiet and unassuming on Dover Street. Cars drive quickly past, occupants unaware of the large-scale operations taking place inside and the magnitude of its impact on the community. Since 1966, its main focus has been to assist individuals with disabilities reach independence through providing opportunities in employment, housing and community activities, among others. “Similar to other nonprofits, [Chesapeake Center] began when a group of concerned parents, whose children with disabilities had graduated high school, got together,” says President and CEO Donna Harrison. “At that time, people with disabilities couldn’t stay in school until they were 21, so the parents approached local store owners to see if they would be willing to offer employment.” Rowen’s Stationary was one of the first businesses to allow a small group of young adults to work, breaking down boxes and taking out the trash.

This arrangement came to the attention of Mrs. Alton Brown, a local philanthropist. “She was intrigued by the families,” continues Harrison. “She purchased the property on Dover Road, and they started approaching local businesses to see if things could be brought to the Center.” The group offered chair caning, started a toy business and did whatever odd jobs came their way. As the years passed, the state of Maryland began to fund organizations like Chesapeake Center. The support provides funds to hire staff and run vans throughout the county to pick up people and bring them to work. “We pick up people as far away as Tilghman and the borders of neighboring counties,” says Harrison. “We receive funds from Caroline and Dorchester, so we pick up people there as well.” Currently, the Center serves approximately 200 adults with various disabilities. They work at any number of tasks including: stuffing toys in bubbles for vending machines; breaking down and recycling computer hard drives; stuffing envelopes for bulk mailers; constructing crab mallets, disposable emergency stretchers called dispo-a-boards and canes with a specialized footprint. A food service area provides two meals and a snack for Center employees and sells baked goods throughout the community. Chesapeake Center manages three recycling sites throughout Talbot County and sells the aluminum cans collected from not only its property, but also from the adjacent site. “Nothing is wasted here,” says Vocational Director Lisa Korell. “We have an outlet for everything.” One of the largest ongoing jobs is a U.S. Navy contract, cutting and sewing special cleaning cloths. The sound of the room in which the cleaning cloths are made is a noisy symphony of sewing machines and specialized cutting equipment. Here a large workforce cuts, sews, trims and inspects cloths destined for Navy subs and ships all over the world. “In the 10 years I’ve worked as vocational director, we’ve only had one quality control issue,” says Korell. It is a source of pride as well as a testament to the facility itself. Given the opportunity, people with disabilities flourish and are as productive, if not more than, their counterparts without disabilities. Chesapeake Center continues on page 15

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National Connection 

There are some who come to Chesapeake Center not to work, but to learn valuable life skills and make friends through the Day Habilitation Program. “Some people don’t want to work a full day, and that’s fine,” continues Korell. “They’ll work a half day then come and relax or do a craft.” Others may spend the entire day there, staying occupied, engaged, earning a sense of accomplishment. Often times those who start in the Day Habilitation Program move on to work in the facility.

Chesapeake Center not only employs people on site, but also works to place people in the community. “When we approach potential employers,” says Korell, “we like to focus on what they can do, not what they can’t.” Currently, five people from the Center are placed in jobs throughout the community. “The Chesapeake Center feels like a family environment,” says the young woman with bi-polar disorder. Her life’s course was changed because of the nonprofit staff’s efforts. Had it not been for that family style support and gentle pressure to push herself to achieve, her story—along with the stories of many others—would have had less than a happy ending.

© 2012 Lockheed Martin Corporation

Chesapeake Center continued from page 14


ACHIEVEMENT At Lockheed Martin, we take on some of the most complex challenges imaginable. So we depend on a diverse supplier base to provide the widest range of abilities and perspectives. The AbilityOne∏ Program gives us access to a wealth of talent, and helps us deliver innovative solutions to our customers.

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Job Squad and Christopher O’Dell: Succeeding with the Ticket to Work Program


hen Christopher O’Dell finished high school in rural West Virginia, he looked forward to gaining independence and having a job of his own. But, he was also apprehensive about an unknown future. O’Dell worried that with a disability, a special education certificate and little work experience, his employment prospects would be limited. Still, depending on a Social Security Supplemental Security Income (SSI) check left few choices, and a need for purposeful employment ultimately led him to pursue work in spite of these concerns. “I got tired quickly of sitting at home, and even though I was nervous at first, I decided to [find help],” he says.

Courage A transition specialist at school referred O’Dell to Job Squad, an AbilityOne-producing nonprofit and provider of employment opportunities and support services for job-seekers with disabilities. When considering employment, it is important for anyone

who receives Social Security disability benefits to consult an expert and learn how work can affect these benefits. With help from his family and a benefits counselor at Job Squad, O’Dell explored his opportunities. He learned that rules called Work Incentives make it easier for adults with disabilities to enhance their job skills through education, training and work experience, while receiving healthcare and cash benefits from Social Security. A combination of Work Incentives Learn about Work Incentives in the Social Security Red Book, the official guide to Work may allow O’Dell to continue Incentives. receiving all or part of his SSI check while working. Some of these Work Incentives, known as “Special SSI Payments for Persons Who Work,” the “Earned Income Exclusion,” “Property Essential to Self-Support,” and “Impairment Related Work Expenses” can help him receive some cash payments from Social Security while he tests his ability to work. Job Squad continues on page 19

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Job Squad continued from page 17

In addition, Medicaid coverage can continue even if his income is too high to receive SSI cash benefits. Finally, O’Dell learned that if he stops working because of his disability within five years, Social Security may be able to start his benefits again without a new application. Because each person’s circumstances are different, it is important to understand which rules apply to your employees and what these rules will mean for benefits when working. Work Incentives supported O’Dell as he built confidence, and helped give him the courage he needed to pursue long-term employment.

Teamwork O’Dell’s counselor also told him he would be a good candidate for Social Security’s Ticket to Work Program. The Ticket Program is voluntary and exists specifically to help people with disabilities progress toward financial self-sufficiency. It is a good fit for those who would like to improve their earning potential and who are committed to preparing for long-term success in the workforce. Social Security disability beneficiaries 18 through 64 qualify. With the help of state Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies and specialized providers known as Employment Networks (ENs), the Ticket Program offers people with disabilities improved access to meaningful employment. Job Squad is one of over 1,000 ENs, including a number of AbilityOne® Network members, that offer a range of free employment support services, including rehabilitation, career and benefits counseling, resume writing, interview skills workshops, referral to vocational training or continuing education, job placement services, job-coaching and other types of ongoing employment supports. An EN can offer one or many of these services, and different ENs may specialize in serving select populations. Program participants may speak with several providers before finding a good match, and can choose any EN that meets their needs. As a nationally recognized leader in customized and supported employment, Job Squad was well equipped to meet O’Dell’s needs. Job Squad worked with O’Dell and his family to develop an Individual Work Plan, a roadmap to help him meet his employment goals. After assessing his skills and training potential, Job Squad placed O’Dell in a job as custodian for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal Justice Information System in 2008.

In the early weeks of his job, O’Dell had a difficult time adjusting. He described it as “really hard work, until you get used to it.” But, Job Squad worked with him until he was comfortable in his duties and he now enjoys his routine. Individualized training, a job coach and other supports helped him become confident in his ability to succeed at work.

Promise O’Dell is conscientious in performing his five weekly shifts from 3 p.m. to midnight, and is excited about his work. According to Travis Klein, director of Human Resources at Job Squad, O’Dell often volunteered for the challenging midnight shift, and has grown as a team player. “He takes a lead in orienting new employees and strives to promote teamwork with his crew at the FBI building,” he says. FBI employees enjoy having Job Squad employees like O’Dell on site. They contribute to a positive morale, and Travis hopes that contract expansion opportunities will soon allow Job Squad to promote O’Dell into a supervisory position.

Pride O’Dell has seen tremendous improvements in his life since he decided to participate in the Ticket to Work Program. At 26, he is now a devoted father with a family of his own; proud of what his independence has allowed him to achieve. He has been selfsufficient for four years, and feels free of the limitations imposed by relying on SSI. As O’Dell talks about fishing with his son, spending time with friends and co-workers, purchasing an all-terrain vehicle, or completing payments on the car, his satisfaction with life after Social Security is clear. He looks forward to a better future for himself and his family with confidence. O’Dell is glad he decided to participate in the Ticket Program, suggesting other young people should take a chance on their future and “…go for it!” Ticket to Work and Work Incentives helped O’Dell find his path to self-sufficiency. To learn more about using Ticket to Work at your nonprofit, visit www. or call the Ticket Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 (V) or 866-833-2967 (TTY/TDD).

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Revised 404 Information Collection Form Expected for Fourth Quarter FY12 As mentioned in an earlier NISH Public Policy Update and in keeping with the Paperwork Reduction Act, the U.S. AbilityOne Commission™ submitted a request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to add three new questions to the 404 data collection form and revise the certification signature block. The information will enable the Commission to accurately measure veteran participation in the AbilityOne® Program. The complete proposed form can be found on the NISH Extranet. The new questions are 6E, 7H and 7I. The CRP signature block revision clarifies that the form is subject to the False Claims Act. NISH plans to update the QER with these revisions. NISH is coordinating the requisite information technology updates with NIB and the Commission to include the additional fields/questions. Pending final approval by OMB, these revisions will go into effect Sept. 30, 2012 for FY12 data collection. Questions? Please contact


2012 Call for Nominations will open in September.

Don’t miss out! The first 50 CRPs to nominate will receive a $200 training voucher. 20  •  Fall 2012  •  NATIONAL  •  CRP Connection

ceSS c u S All ted n A W eS Stori

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CRP Connection is published quarterly by the NISH Corporate Communications Department. To submit questions, comments or story ideas, please e-mail or call (571) 226-4660. To request additional copies of CRP Connection, or to add or remove your name from the CRP Connection mailing list, please e-mail or call (571) 226-4660.

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North West CRP Connection Fall 2012  

CRP Connection is a quarterly newsletter designed exclusively for NISH’s community rehabilitation programs (CRPs). The publication includes...